Direkt zum Inhalt
Historisches Centrum
48 Besucher online


Keine News in dieser Ansicht.


14.08.2020 11:00

Fossilien- und Mineraliensuche auf dem Klopfplatz am Steinbruch Donnerkuhle

Geotouring bietet speziell fr jngere Kinder ab 4 Jahren Fossilien-...
15.08.2020 11:00

Tauchfahrt in die Vergangenheit

Exkursion in den Steinbruch Hohenlimburg
29.08.2020 11:00

Steinbruch-Exkursion nach Sprockhvel

Das Museum Wasserschloss Werdringen bietet in Kooperation mit...

Battle of the Ruhr

The "Ruhr Pocket"

End of war in Rhineland and Westphalia in April 1945

Part 2

Mass murders by the Gestapo and Security Police

American soldiers examine the victims of mass shooting in Suttrop in the Sauerland, 2. May 1945 (National Archives, College Park)

In the last weeks before the arrival of US troops there were murder actions by local Gestapo and Security Police in many cities and villages in the Ruhr area. These war crimes were facilitated by corresponding orders of the military supreme commander of Army Group B, General Field Marshal Walter Model, and of the leading Gauleiter and Reich Defense Commissars for this region, Albert Hoffmann.

In the Bittermark and in the Romberg Park, to the south of Dortmund, Gestapo mass shootings claimed about 300 victims. In the adjacent Hagen there were at least 50 people who (often only a few hours before their liberation by US troops) were murdered by the Gestapo. In the Warstein district SS troops murdered over 250 "east workers". Besides foreign forced laborers and prisoners of war there were also political opponents of the National Socialist regime and resistance fighters among the victims.

But also Allied soldiers were murdered. In Hagen even a Canadian Flying Officer, who had jumped with a parachute three weeks before after an air raid on Hagen, was executed in contravention to existing international conventions (Geneva conventions, Hague convention). He had been turned over to the Gestapo by the German Wehrmacht for special treatment". Many fliers were killed also by fanatical German civilians and members of the National Socialist party. For example, on 24 March 1945 four members of a British bomber crew were murdered by civilians in Bochum.

Escape of the prominent Nazis

In the Internment Camp in Recklinghausen an American officer informs arrested German civilians, 22.4.1945 (National Archives, College Park)

The leading National Socialist of the region, who shortly before the marching in of the Allies had undertaken the vain attempt to harangue the population into a fight to the last man, quickly tried to get away. The deputy Gauleiter of Essen, Fritz Schlemann, SS-Obergruppenfhrer and an eager follower of Hitlers to the last, hid with his girlfriend under the name "Fritz Selig" in his 'Gau capital'.

Albert Hoffmann, SS-Gruppenfhrer, Gauleiter of southern Westfalia and collaborator of Joseph Goebbels, tried luck far away from his former site of work, as did his Cologne colleague Josef Groh (alias Otto Gruber). In the final phase of the Second World War Hoffmann as Leading Reich Defense Commissar for the Rhine-/Ruhr area held a key position. After Hoffmann had hurriedly dissolved the NSDAP as a party in his Gau on 13 April 1945, which was unusual, he made his way to Hameln. Only in October 1945 he could be arrested and appeared as a witness at the Nuremberg Trial in 1946.

Dr. Alfred Meyer, Gauleiter of northern Westfalia and constant representative of Alfred Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories' (as well as a participant in the Wannsee Conference), committed suicide while British troops were approaching in the Weser region.

The surviving Gauleiter and their representatives, as well as the most important members of their staff, however, were mostly spared by federal German justice and could after release from internment and penal camps at the beginning of the economic miracle spend the rest of their lives as prosperous citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany. A quiet old age that countless people as victims of the National Socialist terror state did not reach.

Early post-war period

The ruins of the city Hagen in the spring 1946 (StadtA Hagen)

Already during the occupation of the Rhine-Ruhr area by American troops command authorities of the Allied Military Government were established in the cities and communities of the region. They were American commando staffs at first, but administrative competence went completely to the British military government only a few weeks after the occupation.

In the Ruhr area the Allies came upon a desert of rubble that in places resembled a moonscape. In the middle of these ruins lived the inhabitants who had remained behind or were now returning. Lodging and nourishment problems marked the daily life of these people for years to come. Although the Western Allies made all efforts to improve the living conditions, the situation seemed almost hopeless in some places until 1947/48. When, for instance, planning for the reconstruction of Dortmund began, there were serious considerations as to whether the inner city should not be erected at another place. The enormous destruction and masses of ruins often deprived the people of faith in a new beginning.

"Trmmerfrauen" (Rubble women) in the reconstruction in Hagen, summer 1946

With the Marshall Plan and the promotion of reconstruction related thereto in regard to Europe in general and the Western Zones of the former German Reich in particular, the bases for the reconstruction were created since 1947. At the same time the Western Allies had immediately after the occupation initiated a democratization program. These society-oriented measures and the introduction of a new German self-administration after democratic models then paved the way to the foundation of the German Federal Republic in 1949.

As a part of the federal land of Nordrhein-Westfalen that came into being in the immediate postwar period, the Rhine-Ruhr area had a considerable part in the economic new beginning. Despite (or exactly because of) the Allied disassembling policy and a new ordering and modernization of the industrial bases, a fast new beginning was possible here. In the 1950s, coal and steel from the Ruhr were the motors of the Wirtschaftswunder" ("Economic miracle) in the early years of the German Federal Republic.

<- back

1994 ff. Ralf Blank - all rights reserved.