This famous photograph was taken in 1936. German worker August Landmesser, whose wife was Jewish, refused to greet Hitler.
In this photograph, workers give a Nazi salute as the training ship Horst Wessel is launched. And only August Landmesser, instead of greeting, crossed his arms on his chest. What is the reason why the worker did not share the general enthusiasm, and how did his fate eventually develop? Let’s figure it out.
21-year-old August couldn’t find a job. And in 1931, his relatives offered to join them in the ranks of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). At that time, it was not even the ruling party. It just quickly gained momentum and popularity among the population, and two years later the Nazis came to power.
August really got a job, as the Nazis helped with employment in factories. But in 1935 August became engaged to a Jewish girl, Irma Eclair. After that, he decided to leave the party. Their family had two daughters.
Then in Germany the law on the purity of the race was passed and the persecution of the Jews began. The family tried to escape to Denmark, but they were returned. And Augustus was arrested on charges of defiling the purity of the race.
At the trial, August said that he did not know that Irma was a purebred Jewish woman (marriages with half-breeds were not so severely persecuted). The court ordered him to separate from his wife and not meet again. Otherwise, hard labor awaited him.
August ignored the court’s decision. He continued not only to live with his family, but also appeared in public. A year later, he was arrested again and sent to hard labor for two years.
After that, the Gestapo arrested his wife and sent her to a women’s camp, where she was destroyed in 1942.
The daughters – the eldest Ingrid and the youngest Irene – miraculously escaped. Affected by the fact that the father was German. The eldest daughter was raised by her grandmother, the youngest was sent to an orphanage. There she was adopted by her adoptive parents. After the war, both girls survived. The eldest worked as a saleswoman in a store, and the youngest as a teacher.
And August, after hard labor, was not allowed to go home, but sent to an engineering plant. In 1944 he was drafted, but in October he went missing. Most likely, he was killed in battles in Croatia. He was only 34 years old.
And that very photo became famous in 1991. Irene noticed her in one of the publications in the German press. At that time, the youngest daughter of the Landmessers was already 54 years old. Irene devoted her further life to collecting documents, letters, photographs. And she published a book of memoirs about the fate of her family.
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