Bandwagoneers

Horst S. (b. 1907 in Hannover) joined the NSDAP in 1933, at the age of 26. It seems like 1933 was the breakthrough year of his life, and he had worked very hard to build up to it. From being a book dealer’s apprentice, he moved to Munich and then Königsberg, East Prussia. He put himself through one semester of university in agriculture and then eight semesters of legal study. In 1932 he got married, and the following year passed his Referendarexamen in Königsberg, got a job as Gerichtsreferendar in Berlin, and joined the NSDAP and SA. 1936 saw another step forward: at the age of 29 he became mayor of Schleiden/Eifel. The following year he joined the SS, became an Oberscharführer, and was a reader of Schwarzes Korps. In 1939, he divorced his wife and applied for a transfer. He was a welcome addition to the team in the Warthegau, where he served as the Amtskommissar of several towns.

Benjamin S. (b. 1904 in Neustadt/Thuringia) was a Nationalist before he became a Nazi. In the 1920s he had transitioned from the Jungdo to the DVP, started voting for the NSDAP in 1929. His civil service career began in 1922; by 1933 he had risen to Stadtsekretär in Wetting near Merseburg. He was part of the great wave of Mayfly Party loyalists who became Bürgermeister in August 1933 during the Great Firing of SPD mayors in Prussia. He started in Remda, then Katzhütte, and finally Ziegenrück, before the war began. It was not so much that he floated from town to town, as that he enjoyed putting an office in order but got bored once the routine set in. He had volunteered for the Polish Campaign, and noticed the land of opportunity waiting in the East. He immediately applied for an Amtskommissar posting, and was rewarded.

Hans H. (b. 1893) was born and raised in Frankfurt am Main, and led an undistinguished life as a surveyor, broken mainly by his war service between 1914 and 1918. He came to life in 1933 when he joined the NSDAP and SA, in which he became an Oberscharführer. The next expansion of political involvement came in 1937, when he joined the Reichskolonialbund and became a Blockleiter. A Lutheran, he had declared himself gottgläubig, and admitted to reading the weekly Schulungsbriefe put out by the NSDAP. In Litzmannstadt he did pretty much what he did in Frankfurt. Nothing extraordinary appears in this story until 1942, when he was caught having relations with a Polish woman, lost his job, and was thrown out of the NSDAP. There was much room for advancement for a Mayfly Beamter, but just as quickly the cord could be cut. It was much more difficult to get rid of an Old Fighter, especially a Golden Ehrenzeichenträger, SS member, Amtskommissar.

Alfred K. (b. 1901 in Landsberg an der Warthe) had to build a reputation as an alcoholic gambler. He habitually broke into the homes of women living alone to (at least attempt to) have his way with them. Perhaps, in this strange world, his saving grace was that he targeted German rather than Polish women. Never fired, all he suffered as a transfer to a different town in the Warthegau.

Felix O. (b. 1904 in Leisnig/Saxony) was rather droll in comparison with Alfred K. and Hans H.. He left school to apprentice at a small town savings bank, and in that world he remained. He worked in banks in Emden, Hannover, and Neumünster before he hit his stride as Sparkasssenleiter at the Stadtsparkasse Delitzsch in 1934. In 1937 he became Leiter of the new, united Kreissparkasse in Delitzsch. He joined the NSDAP finally in May 1937, having been an active member of the NSKK since 1933. The part of the job that most interested him was opening up new branches and training the personnel. Thus he was a good match for the Warthegau. In 1940 he got the chance to build Branch A of the Stadtsparkasse Litzmannstadt, whence he moved into the corporate office where he was in charge of personnel and advertising. He had found his home in the world of Aufbauarbeit. In 1942 he got the chance to run the Kreissparkasse in Turek, and also began serving as Block and Zellenleiter in the local NSDAP branch.

Mayfly joiners appear to have enjoyed the professional challenge aspect of service in the East, whereas the Old Fighters found an action zone for their ideology. Heinz G. (b. 1907 in Visbek/Oldenburg) was a Catholic Gymnasium graduate, civil engineer, not married, no children. He was a technical Kreisinspektor in Burgsteinfurt in Westphalia before the war. He joined the NSDAP in 1933, same year he joined the SA and became a Scharführer. By 1940 he was the civil engineer for Kreis Lentschütz, just north of Litzmannstadt. In that position he grew so frustrated that he offered his resignation. He agreed fully with the Führer’s stated goal of turning the Warthegau into the breadbasket of the Reich, but was infuriated with the methods. He would spend months planning out projects that would improve the infrastructure, only to see their budget denied. Meanwhile private companies would come in and get fat “reconstruction” contracts fully funded to do less important work. He thought he could serve the Cause more effectively working for private industry than the State, and likely make more money along the way. His request, as one might expect, was denied.

Heinz G. stands in sharp contrast to my last example, Friedrich S. (b. 1895 in Frankfurt am Main). After apprenticing with a shopkeeper in Alsace, he volunteered for the army in 1915 and was a warrior the rest of his life. After the war ended, he joined the Freikorps in the “fight against the Red Army,” was wounded, and joined the Sicherheitspolizei. At the time he joined the NSDAP in 1924, he was a streetcar conductor. He joined the SA in 1925, and the SS in 1931. In 1933 he received one of the “sinecures,” with the state health insurance office in Düsseldorf. Although it did not suit him, he worked hard at the workman’s compensation field, and passed the A-exam for his position in 1937. When war began anew in 1939, he immediately volunteered for the Army, and by December 1939 was assisting in the Aufbauarbeit in Litzmannstadt. Not surprisingly, he did not stay long with the Sozialversicheringsanstalt before he became an Amtskommissar. On top of all that, he had nine children.

Horst S. (b. 1907 in Hannover) joined the NSDAP in 1933, at the age of 26. It seems like 1933 was the breakthrough year of his life, and he had worked very hard to build up to it. From being a book dealer’s apprentice, he moved to Munich and then Königsberg, East Prussia. He put himself through one semester of university in agriculture and then eight semesters of legal study. In 1932 he got married, and the following year passed his Referendarexamen in Königsberg, got a job as Gerichtsreferendar in Berlin, and joined the NSDAP and SA. 1936 saw another step forward: at the age of 29 he became mayor of Schleiden/Eifel. The following year he joined the SS, became an Oberscharführer, and was a reader of Schwarzes Korps. In 1939, he divorced his wife and applied for a transfer. He was a welcome addition to the team in the Warthegau, where he served as the Amtskommissar of several towns.

Benjamin S. (b. 1904 in Neustadt/Thuringia) was a Nationalist before he became a Nazi. In the 1920s he had transitioned from the Jungdo to the DVP, started voting for the NSDAP in 1929. His civil service career began in 1922; by 1933 he had risen to Stadtsekretär in Wetting near Merseburg. He was part of the great wave of Mayfly Party loyalists who became Bürgermeister in August 1933 during the Great Firing of SPD mayors in Prussia. He started in Remda, then Katzhütte, and finally Ziegenrück, before the war began. It was not so much that he floated from town to town, as that he enjoyed putting an office in order but got bored once the routine set in. He had volunteered for the Polish Campaign, and noticed the land of opportunity waiting in the East. He immediately applied for an Amtskommissar posting, and was rewarded.

Hans H. (b. 1893) was born and raised in Frankfurt am Main, and led an undistinguished life as a surveyor, broken mainly by his war service between 1914 and 1918. He came to life in 1933 when he joined the NSDAP and SA, in which he became an Oberscharführer. The next expansion of political involvement came in 1937, when he joined the Reichskolonialbund and became a Blockleiter. A Lutheran, he had declared himself gottgläubig, and admitted to reading the weekly Schulungsbriefe put out by the NSDAP. In Litzmannstadt he did pretty much what he did in Frankfurt. Nothing extraordinary appears in this story until 1942, when he was caught having relations with a Polish woman, lost his job, and was thrown out of the NSDAP. There was much room for advancement for a Mayfly Beamter, but just as quickly the cord could be cut. It was much more difficult to get rid of an Old Fighter, especially a Golden Ehrenzeichenträger, SS member, Amtskommissar.

Alfred K. (b. 1901 in Landsberg an der Warthe) had to build a reputation as an alcoholic gambler. He habitually broke into the homes of women living alone to (at least attempt to) have his way with them. Perhaps, in this strange world, his saving grace was that he targeted German rather than Polish women. Never fired, all he suffered as a transfer to a different town in the Warthegau.

Felix O. (b. 1904 in Leisnig/Saxony) was rather droll in comparison with Alfred K. and Hans H.. He left school to apprentice at a small town savings bank, and in that world he remained. He worked in banks in Emden, Hannover, and Neumünster before he hit his stride as Sparkasssenleiter at the Stadtsparkasse Delitzsch in 1934. In 1937 he became Leiter of the new, united Kreissparkasse in Delitzsch. He joined the NSDAP finally in May 1937, having been an active member of the NSKK since 1933. The part of the job that most interested him was opening up new branches and training the personnel. Thus he was a good match for the Warthegau. In 1940 he got the chance to build Branch A of the Stadtsparkasse Litzmannstadt, whence he moved into the corporate office where he was in charge of personnel and advertising. He had found his home in the world of Aufbauarbeit. In 1942 he got the chance to run the Kreissparkasse in Turek, and also began serving as Block and Zellenleiter in the local NSDAP branch.

Mayfly joiners appear to have enjoyed the professional challenge aspect of service in the East, whereas the Old Fighters found an action zone for their ideology. Heinz G. (b. 1907 in Visbek/Oldenburg) was a Catholic Gymnasium graduate, civil engineer, not married, no children. He was a technical Kreisinspektor in Burgsteinfurt in Westphalia before the war. He joined the NSDAP in 1933, same year he joined the SA and became a Scharführer. By 1940 he was the civil engineer for Kreis Lentschütz, just north of Litzmannstadt. In that position he grew so frustrated that he offered his resignation. He agreed fully with the Führer’s stated goal of turning the Warthegau into the breadbasket of the Reich, but was infuriated with the methods. He would spend months planning out projects that would improve the infrastructure, only to see their budget denied. Meanwhile private companies would come in and get fat “reconstruction” contracts fully funded to do less important work. He thought he could serve the Cause more effectively working for private industry than the State, and likely make more money along the way. His request, as one might expect, was denied.

Heinz G. stands in sharp contrast to my last example, Friedrich S. (b. 1895 in Frankfurt am Main). After apprenticing with a shopkeeper in Alsace, he volunteered for the army in 1915 and was a warrior the rest of his life. After the war ended, he joined the Freikorps in the “fight against the Red Army,” was wounded, and joined the Sicherheitspolizei. At the time he joined the NSDAP in 1924, he was a streetcar conductor. He joined the SA in 1925, and the SS in 1931. In 1933 he received one of the “sinecures,” with the state health insurance office in Düsseldorf. Although it did not suit him, he worked hard at the workman’s compensation field, and passed the A-exam for his position in 1937. When war began anew in 1939, he immediately volunteered for the Army, and by December 1939 was assisting in the Aufbauarbeit in Litzmannstadt. Not surprisingly, he did not stay long with the Sozialversicheringsanstalt before he became an Amtskommissar. On top of all that, he had nine children.

January 12, 2008 in History