Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Baum Group

The Nazi propaganda exhibit was set afire by the Baum group,the antri Bolshevik exhibit and 500 Jews in Berlin were arrested in repraisal. Hlla Hirsch belonged to hte Baum group. Two hundred fifty were shot and the rest sent to Sachsenhausen.Hirsch and her immediate group of 12 were tried on December 9,1942,and 9 were sentenced to death and Hirsch to just three years due to extenuating circumstances. Herbert and Marianne Baum led the group founded in 1937 consisting of young Jewish communists and fervent left wing Zionists.The Baum group produced and distributed anti Nazi pamphlets and :

  • arranged educational events for isolated Jewish youth in Berlin

  • offered moral support and camaraderie.

  • they committed a daring act an attempt to burn down an anti-Bolshevik propaganda exhibit called Das Sowjetparadies (The Soviet Paradise). (QUOTE)

  • Note the film made of this historical happening andf discussed in a previous post. Flammen- 1942 Berlin In 1942 had in Berlin, the German capital, a group of anti-fascists the National Socialist exhibition of hate "Das Sowjetparadies" (the soviet-paradise) set into fire. The resistance group consisted primarily of young Jewish Communists.Their head was Herbert Baum a forced laborer in the Siemens Company. He was murdered during the preliminary investigation, and 21 members were condemned to death. Survivors remember their murdered friends and comrades.(QUOTE)

  • Most members of the two groups were sentenced to death and beheaded. Herbert Baum died in his cell according to the Gestapo but the group maintained he was murdered.Two other women sentenced to death were reprieved.

  • the sole survivor was Richard Holzer, who managed to flee to Hungary, where he was recruited into the Jewish forced-labor companies on the eastern front. (QUOTE). He was captured by the Soviets and provwed his identity and returned to Germany after the war.

  • The majority of the women members were between ages 10 and 13.Most were friends and lovers of male members of the group.They sought community support and solidarity, friendship and love.Many ame from disbanded Jewish or other youth movements after the Kristallnacht pogrom of Nov 1938.Jewish youth movements were contacted by Baum since '34 for the main pool of resources.

  • In the middle of 34 Baum performed "the Trojan Horse Tactic" infiltrating toher groups to draw members for his own group.

  • The Brussells Congress of the German Communist party, note their party rationale and present using of Jewish youth groups to provide camouflage.They expelled Jewish members from the Communist underground cells as their protection. This served as a context of the Jewish youth groups as recruiting pools. The first group organized around the end of 1938 when Jewish youth groups were outlawed. Many of the Jewish youth movements left Germany but for those who did not leave,the Baum group became a city of refuge.


1942: The "Final Solution"


poster advertises the anti-Bolshevik Nazi propaganda exhibit that was displayed
in the Berlin Lust-garten. The exhibit, entitled The Soviet Paradise, was
designed to demonstrate the superiority of Nazism over communism. The Nazi
propaganda machine worked tirelessly throughout the war years to bolster the
regime's military campaigns. The exhibit was particularly repugnant to the Baum
Group since most of its members belonged to Communist and other left-wing
Photo: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz / United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Hirsch belonged to the Baum Group. On May 18, 1942, Hirsch and other members of
the group set fire to an anti-Bolshevik exhibit on display in Berlin.
Gestapo arrested 500 Berlin Jews in reprisal for the attack, shooting 250 of
them and sending the rest to the Sachsenhausen, Germany, concentration camp.
Hirsch and the others in her immediate group, 12 altogether, were tried on
December 9, 1942. Nine were given death sentences. Hirsch was sentenced to just
three years in prison due to "extenuating circumstances."
Photo: Bildarchiv
Preussischer Kulturbesitz / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo
Baum Gruppe
Named after its leaders, Herbert and Marianne Baum,
the Baum Gruppe (Baum Group) was diverse in its membership but unified in its
opposition to the Nazis. Founded in 1937 and composed mainly of young Jewish
Communists, the group also included fervent, left-wing Zionists. Most of the
members were in their early 20s.
The Baum Group produced and distributed
anti-Nazi pamphlets, arranged educational events for the increasingly isolated
Jewish youth of Berlin, and offered moral support and camaraderie. In May 1942
members engaged in a daring anti-Nazi act, an attempt to burn down an
anti-Bolshevik propaganda exhibit called Das Sowjetparadies (The Soviet
Herbert, Marianne, and about 25 other members of the group were
caught, tortured, and either killed or sent to concentration camps. Five hundred
Berlin Jews not associated with the group also were arrested in reprisal and
sent to camps or killed

Baum Gruppe: Jewish Women

Twenty-year-old Baum Gruppe member Edith Fraenkel was arrested and deported, first to Theresienstadt and then to her death at Auschwitz in 1944.
Institution: Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

by Avraham Atzili
On May 18, 1942, two anti-Nazi Communist groups set fire to the anti-Soviet exhibit, Das Sowjetparadies (The Soviet Paradise), which was held in the Lustgarten in Berlin. The larger, leading group of the two, almost entirely Jewish in its composition and led by Herbert Baum, was known as the Baum Gruppe. Damage was minimal and the exhibition was reopened the following day. Nine days later, on May 27, 1942, the Gestapo arrested an unspecified number of Jews and incarcerated them in the internment camp at the Lewetzowstrasse Synagogue. On May 28, one hundred and fifty-four of them were taken to the SS camp in Lichterfelde and shot immediately upon arrival. Ninety-six other Jews were taken out of the evening roll call that same day and also shot. The family members of the Jews who had been shot in Lichterfelde were sent to Theresienstadt in various transports. Two hundred and fifty other Jews from Berlin were deported to Sachsenhausen. Some were shot there and others sent to Auschwitz.
Most of the members of the two resistance groups were quickly captured by the Gestapo and tried and sentenced in Berlin. Except for three of the youngest women, all of them were sentenced to death. The condemned were beheaded in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison. In all, twenty-two members of the group were executed. Herbert Baum died in his cell. According to the Gestapo he committed suicide, but group members and researchers believe he was murdered. Three of the women who did not receive death sentences were sent to Auschwitz, where they perished. Two other women members were sentenced to death but reprieved, each under different circumstances. The Gestapo also arrested supporters and helpers of the group who were not themselves members, sentenced most of them to death and executed them. Of the immediate circle of young men in the group, the sole survivor was Richard Holzer, who managed to flee to Hungary, where he was recruited into the Jewish forced-labor companies on the eastern front. He was captured by the Soviets but managed to prove his identity and returned to Germany after the war.

A significant characteristic of the Baum group was its youthfulness, which was particularly characteristic of the women members. In 1941, the average age of the members was twenty-two. Alice Hirsch was the youngest at eighteen, followed by Hildegard Löwy, who turned nineteen that same year. Charlotte Päch, aged thirty-two, was nicknamed “Grandma.” Only five members were over twenty-one years of age in 1933, the year Hitler came to power, while the majority were then between the ages of ten and thirteen. Most of the young women in the group were friends or lovers of a man in the group, and some were already married. Two had children. This confirms testimonies about their motivation to join a group and the references to a search for community, support, solidarity, friendship and love. Many of them came to the group from Jewish or other youth movements that had either been disbanded after the pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938 (“Kristallnacht”) or had dwindled rapidly as a result of emigration. The group comprised almost equal numbers of men and women. The small inner circle around Herbert Baum had fourteen members, seven of them women. Three women and one man were more marginal.
In the wider circle, the Heinz Joachim group, which was more like a sub-group in itself, there were seven members: three women and four men. The entire group was thus balanced so far as gender was concerned. In addition, of the twelve members who took part in the torching of the exhibit, five were women.
The main pool of human resources on which the Baum Gruppe drew was Jewish youth organizations. After Hitler’s rise to power, the leadership of the Communist youth organization instructed Baum to contact Jewish youth movements and organizations and recruit them to resistance. In consequence, Baum joined the Ring-Bund Deutsch-Jüdischer Jugend at the beginning of 1934.
From the middle of 1934, Baum assumed leadership of the Communist youth organization in the southwestern sub-district of Berlin. Even before Hitler’s rise to power, Baum managed to work in several Jewish youth movements. The core of a resistance group under his leadership came from this framework. This was where he met Marianne Cohen, his wife-to-be, and Sala and Martin Kochmann. In contemporary leftist jargon their activity was termed “the Trojan Horse tactic,” the goal of which was to recruit members by infiltrating into other organizations, some of which were close to their world view while others opposed it. Later on, after the “Brussels Congress” of the German Communist Party which took place in Moscow in October, 1935, activity in the Jewish youth organizations had another goal: to provide legal camouflage for Communist activists, since the Jewish and especially the Zionist youth movements remained legal until after the November pogrom. At that same congress, the Communists decided to expel Jewish members from Communist underground cells. This was in order to protect both the Jewish members and the cells themselves. Thus the conditions were created for the Jewish youth organizations to serve as a recruiting pool for the Jewish Communist group which was taking shape.
The first organization of the group seems to have begun around the end of 1938 and beginning of 1939. This was the time when Jewish youth movements were outlawed, though they still managed to get most of their members out of Germany. Under these conditions, the organization became a kind of “city of refuge” for members of Jewish youth movements and organizations who for one reason or another had not left Germany.
There were only a few members in Herbert and Marianne Baum’s immediate circle: Sala and Martin Kochmann, Heinz Birnbaum, Felix Heymann, Alfred Eisenstadter and Gerd and Hanni Meyer. Two non-Jewish women joined them: Irena Walther, who was friendly with one of the members, and Suzanne Wesse, a Frenchwoman who had been married to a Berlin resident and had remained in Berlin after her divorce.

At this stage, the group’s activity was mainly social and ideological. They went on outings, listened to music, held poetry readings, and participated in other, similar activities. On the ideological side, they concentrated on the study of Marxism, reading the relevant literature and holding discussions. Only in mid-1941, after war broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union, did their activity develop into active resistance to the regime. This took the form of composing, printing and distributing anti-Fascist posters and propaganda material and, finally, the attempt to blow up the anti-Soviet exhibit.
Despite the membership of several “refugees” from Zionist youth movements such as Ha-Bonim and Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir, the group’s membership in the German Communist Party was clear and absolute, even though there were differences of opinion in the group’s discussions (including one about the need and justification for the torching of the exhibit). But Herbert Baum’s leadership of the group was unassailable. Marianne Baum, his wife, comes across as a woman with important social influence in the group, but she was at the side—and perhaps even in the shadow—of her husband.

Be’er, Mark. Bletter far geshikhte. Warsaw: 1961, 27–64; Eschwege, Helmut. “Resistance of German Jews against the Nazi Regime.” In LBI Yearbook 15 (1970): 168–180; Kwiet, Konrad, and Helmut Eschwege. Selbstbehauptung und Widerstand: Deutsche Juden im Kampf um Existenz und Menschenwürde 1933–1945. Hamburg: 1984, 114–139; Loehken, Wilfried, and Werner Vathke. Juden im Widerstand: Drei Gruppen zwischen Ueberlebenskampf und Politischer Aktion, Berlin 1939–1945. Berlin: 1993, 114–117; Maoz, Eliyahu. Yalkut Moreshet 3: 79–88; Wippermann, Wolfgang. Die Berliner Gruppe Baum und der judischer Widerstand 4–10. Informationszentrum Berlin, Gedank und Bildungstatte Staufenberg Strasse 14, 1000 Berlin 30.

1 comment:

  1. For those who are interested, I have written a book about the Baum group. It is called: Berlin Ghetto: Herbert Baum and the Anti-fascist Resistance. It is being published by The History Press and is also available from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.