Otto Richard Bülow was born in Berlin-Britz, the son of Martha Bülow (née Hellwig) and Otto Paul Leo Bülow. He was raised by his parents. His father died in action in the First World War. He left school early and completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter.
By the time he was 18, he already had a police record for petty thieving in Berlin-Neukölln. He failed to find a position as a carpenter and periodically worked for a construction company. He is on record as frequently changing his place of residence and sometimes having no fixed abode. His last known address was in Gormannstraße in Berlin-Britz.
In the mid-1930s, with a record of alleged theft, the public prosecutors accused him of breaking and entering and misappropriating a motorcycle, and he received several prison sentences. Little is known of his life subsequently. Records show, however, that further convictions and terms in prison followed this first period in detention. The criminal police took this as grounds to hold him in “preventive detention” in January 1941 and sent him to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Following a period in the sick bay from 10 to 12 November, he was assigned to block 54. To serve his sentence, he was transferred from the concentration camp to Spandau prison on 17 January 1942.
After completing his sentence, he was sent back to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Here he was registered as “workshy” and “asocial” and given the prisoner number 35234. There are no sources on his time in the concentration camp. The camp directors recorded his death on 12 February 1943. His death notice, probably signed by the notorious SS man Gustav Sorge, gives “inflammation of the lung – pleurisy on the right” – a phrase frequently used in concentration camp records – as his cause of death.