Eisenblätter, Charlotte (1903–1944)
Eisenblätter, Charlotte (1903–1944)
German anti-Nazi activist who was a member of the underground organization led by Robert Uhrig. Name variations: Charlotte Eisenblatter or Eisenblaetter. Born in Berlin, Germany, on August 7, 1903; executed in Berlin on August 25, 1944; had seven siblings.
Charlotte Eisenblätter was born in Berlin as the youngest child of a large working-class family. Unable to afford a higher education, she read constantly and worked as an office messenger, then later as a secretary. At age 15, she joined the Socialist youth movement and, through her membership in its "Friends of Nature" organization, was able to hike through the beautiful German countryside on weekends and vacations. An intelligent, socially aware woman who had experienced poverty firsthand, Eisenblätter gravitated toward other revolutionary organizations close to the Communist Party of Germany, including its sports unit. Here she made many friends with whom she would retain close connections even after the rise of German Nazism.
The National Socialist seizure of power in 1933 destroyed the German Communist Party
but individual anti-Nazi resistance cells continued a precarious and increasingly risky existence. Eisenblätter joined an extensive anti-Nazi network led by Robert Uhrig (1903–1944), and, by the time World War II began in September 1939, she had become a seasoned underground activist. She fully recognized the dangers involved in such activities but persisted in her illegal tasks which included the typing and reproduction of anti-Nazi literature. Eisenblätter risked her life when in 1941 she provided room and board for Alfred Kowalke, a German Communist leader who moved to Berlin from the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
In February 1942, she was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women. Opened in 1939, by 1942 Ravensbrück had become a site of intense suffering and arbitrary death for many thousands of women from Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. By the time of its liberation in 1945, more than 92,000 women had died at Ravensbrück as the victims of shootings, hangings, and beatings as well as cold, hunger and illness due to medical neglect.
Two years later, on February 15, 1944, Eisenblätter was finally indicted for high treason and after a farcical judicial procedure was sentenced to death. Along with her colleague from the Uhrig resistance group, Elfriede Tygor , Charlotte Eisenblätter was executed at Berlin's notorious Plötzensee prison on August 25, 1944. In a moving letter to her family and friends written a day before the trial that she knew would lead to her death, Eisenblätter reminded them that her life, while not long in years, had been a rich one, particularly because of the countless hours spent in the circle of her many friends. Calling on them to "remember me in love and do not mourn me," she wished them good health so that they could one day "assist in the reconstruction of our Fatherland." She also reminded them, "as much as I love life, I will die gladly for the ideas I cherish." One of Charlotte's older sisters was not able to come to grips with her loss, consequently taking her own life upon receiving news of the execution.
Charlotte Eisenblätter's name was universally recognized in the German Democratic Republic as that of an exemplary martyr of the militant anti-Nazi working class. She was honored with a postage stamp issued by the GDR post office on September 3, 1959, to raise funds for the preservation of the national memorial at the site of the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
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——. Deutsche Widerstandskämpfer 1933–1945: Biographien und Briefe. 2 vols. Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1970.
Partington, Paul G. Who's Who on the Postage Stamps of Eastern Europe. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1979.
Zorn, Monika. Hitlers zweimal getötete Opfer: West-deutsche Endlösung des Antifaschismus auf dem Gebiet der DDR. Freiburg im Breisgau: Ahriman-Verlag, 1994.
John Haag , Assistant Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia