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Erich Gentsch

Erich Gentsch. Copyright: Bundesarchiv Berlin (BArch) Bild Y 10-6723
Erich Gentsch © GDW/PB Ilse Flügge/Eichenwald
Äneasstr. 8

Tempelhof-Schöneberg – Mariendorf

08/01/1893 in Altenburg (Thüringen)
Flucht 1934 in die Tschechoslowakei und 1937 in die Niederlande
08/24/1944 in Stuttgart

Herewith we request a review of the possibility of our mother being released from detention. She was acquitted by the examining magistrate in March and has been in protective custody since then. [...] Our father has been handed down the harshest sentence, the death sentence, and it is his utmost and last wish to see his wife once more.
From the rejected plea for clemency submitted by Hildegard Kohlmeier and Ilse Gröning, daughters of Erich and Erna Gentsch, on 27.6.1944.

Erich Gentsch (born on 1st August 1893 in Altenburg) was the third of seven children of a metal polisher. He became a locksmith and in 1910 he joined the German Metalworker's Association. One year later, he joined the SPD. In 1913, he moved to Stuttgart and was employed by Daimler. He was not called up to fight in the First World War because he had lost three fingers of his right hand in an accident. He became a member of the USPD and joined the revolutionary Spartacus group. In 1919, he joined the KPD and in 1920 he was elected to the works council. He was dismissed by Daimler a few months later. In 1921, he worked as a full-time party functionary in Silesia and in 1922 he became the trade union editor for the KPD's central press service in Berlin. Soon after, he was made editor of the Rote Fahne newspaper. When the KPD was temporarily banned following the failed communist uprising of 1923, Gentsch went to Hanover, where he worked under a false name. In October 1923, he was sentenced to seven months’imprisonment for his activities. On his release, he resumed his work in Berlin for the Rote Fahne and in 1928 he became editor-in-chief of the Volkswacht in Stettin. In 1930, he took over as head of the RGO (Revolutionary Union Opposition) in Berlin-Brandenburg. In the March 1933 elections, he was elected city councillor. But like all communists, he was unseated before the first meeting and barred from the council. He was arrested on 28.2.1933, in the night of the Reichstag fire, but released a short time later. In April 1933, he was re-arrested and in September 1933 he was released from Sonnenburg concentration camp. In June 1934, he emigrated to the Saar, where he supported efforts to prevent the region being restored to Germany. When it became part of the German Reich in May 1935, he left for Prague via Paris. In Czechoslovakia he trained immigrants living in the border areas and smuggled forbidden KPD tracts to Germany. In 1936, he took over as head of the Amsterdam branch of the KPD, in which capacity he provided KPD envoys working in the resistance in the Rhineland and Westphalia with forged Dutch passports. Shortly after the war began in 1939, he and his wife Erna, who had followed him abroad, were expatriated. When Germany occupied the Netherlands, they continued living in Amsterdam under false names. They were arrested in April 1943. The People's Court sentenced Erich Gentsch to death in June 1944. He was executed on 24th August of the same year. The proceedings against Erna Gentsch were abandoned in March 1944. She was sent to Ravensbrueck women's concentration camp where she died on 5.2.1945. Their daughter Ilse, who lived in Germany with her husband, was arrested in January 1943 and sentenced to one year imprisonment for aiding the enemy a year later.

Erich Gentsch was a city councillor; 1933 Constituency 11 Schöneberg (KPD)

Biographical Compilation

Friedmar Kemper

English Translation

Charlotte Kreutzmüller