Ella Trebe, née Beyer, was born on 6 November 1902 in Berlin-Wedding, the daughter of a washerwoman. She became a metal worker and joined the German metal workers’ union (DMV), after which she acted as trade union representative in the company Lewin. In 1924 Trebe joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Around the same time she also took an active role in the Rote Hilfe aid association and, from 1930, in the revolutionary union opposition (RGO). From 1929 to 1933 Trebe held a seat on Wedding district council representing the KPD. Towards the end of the 1920s, she worked for the AEG “appliances factory” in Brunnen Strasse. She became women’s leader of the Berlin union of metal workers (EVMB), an RGO organization, and periodically acted as instructor for the Berlin branch of the KPD.
When the Nazis came to power, Ella Trebe joined the “North Security Apparatus” group of the now illegal Berlin branch of the KPD. She maintained contact with people working illegally in the Teves GmbH engineering works in Berlin-Wittenau, where she was employed 1934-1936. Later she became involved in the Red Orchestra’s resistance work. She was in close contact with the resistance fighters Wilhelm Guddorf and Erwin Reisler and found accommodation for Ernst Beuthke on his return from the Spanish Civil War. Beuthke had parachuted in to the German Reich to organize resistance campaigns. His arrival coincided with that of a number of exiled Communists parachuting clandestinely into Reich territory from the Soviet Union. The Gestapo clamped down brutally on these “parachute agents” and their helpers. Ernst Beuthke was informed on and arrested. He had acted carelessly and all those who were linked to him were also arrested, including Ella Trebe. She was arrested on 9/10 June 1943 and charged with “high treason”. She was shot without trial on 11 August 1943 along with Beuthke, his family and other “enemies of the state” close to him in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
An exhibition set up in 2005 in the Sachsenhausen memorial site in Oranienburg commemorates Ella Trebe. A street not far from Berlin’s central railway station was named after Ella Trebe in 2006. A Stolperstein was laid in her memory in front of her former home in Togo Strasse 78 in 2009. The proposal to rename Togo Strasse after Ella Trebe had been raised soon after the war ended but was rejected for political reasons. A commemorative stone erected on Nettelbeckplatz in Berlin-Wedding in honour of this courageous resistance fighter was removed in the 1950s.