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Ernst Thälmann – Shot to death in the crematorium

16/4/1886 (Hamburg, German Reich) – 18/8/1944 (Buchenwald concentration camp)

Portrait photograph of Ernst Thälmann
Ernst Thälmann (1886-1944), 1932. Photo: Agence Meurisse.

The Gestapo used Buchenwald as an execution site. According to estimates, more than a thousand men and women were executed there. The most well-known of them was Ernst Thälmann. His rise from casual labourer to prominent politician of the Weimar Republic began after World War I. In 1920 he switched from the SPD to the Communist Party (KPD) via the USPD, and in 1924 became a KPD member of the Reichstag. A year later he became the chairman of the KPD and ran for the office of President of the Reich. As party chairman, he followed instructions from the Soviet Union. After the Nazi “seizure of power”, the KPD was broken up, its members persecuted, and its chairman arrested in March 1933. Moabit, Hannover, Bautzen: after eleven years in solitary confinement, Ernst Thälmann was taken to Buchenwald and shot to death in the crematorium.

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