• Deutsch
  • English

Franz Neitzke lived at Marlesgrube 22

Marlesgrube 22 (undated photo) [1]
Marlesgrube 22 (undated photo) [1]


The Neitzke family lived at Marlesgrube 22. On the ground floor there was an inn called “Jaede’s Hotel und Restaurant”. Their apartment was on the fifth floor.

(Note: The building at Marlesgrube 22 with the inn “Zum Holsteinischen Hause” as shown above was already demolished in 1904.)


Franz Stephan Paul Neitzke was born on 15 November 1893 in Stolp in Pommerania.  Today the town is located in North West Poland and has been renamed  Slupsk. He was not a member of any church or faith group. In the spring of 1900 he started school. Having finished elementary school he came to Lübeck in the summer of 1909 and became a tailor’s apprentice. After finishing his apprenticeship he stayed in Berlin for six months and returned to Lübeck in the spring of 1913. Here he lived at various addresses for the next two years.

On 29 August 1914 he was drafted and served in the Navy at Bremerhaven aboard Battleship “Prinz Albert”. In May 1916 the “Prinz Albert” sailed from Bremerhaven to take part in the Battle of Skagerak against the British Navy. But while underway a defective steam condenser caused one of the boilers in the engine room to explode.  Franz Neitzke’s legs were seriously injured  and he was sent to a military hospital in Berlin where he had to spend two years until he recovered. He had suffered several compound fractures and had to undergo numerous operations. Due to these injuries he was consequently severely disabled and therefore had to retire early at 25.

By the end of WWI, in early November 1918, he took part in the sailors’ revolt in Kiel. Among other things he was involved with distributing food reserves that were hoarded by the military to starving people. At the end of his military service on 25 February 1919 he returned to Lübeck. There he first lived with his parents at Hundestrasse 53 and from 1922 on at Marlesgrube 22.

His first wife, Henny Asmussen, died in 1932 at only 36 years of age. In 1933 he married his second wife. Gertrud Singelmann was 16 years younger than he. At 23 she earned a living by working at “Jaede’s Hotel und Restaurant” on the ground floor of the building. Their son Johnny was born on 29 January 1935.

Franz Neitzke was an active member of the communist workers’ resistance in the port of Lübeck. From 1920 on he was politically active as a functionary of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) and of the Roter Frontkämpferbund (a paramilitary organisation led by the Communist Party) and he was a member of a musical band. He also worked again as a tailor to earn a bit extra in addition to his small disability pension. At that time he was already under police surveillance.

Franz Neitzke as a musician wearing his party uniform (undated photo[3])
Franz Neitzke as a musician wearing his  party uniform (undated photo[3])

The above picture shows young Franz Neitzke as a musician wearing his communist party uniform. The picture was nearly destroyed when somebody tried to detach it from another more important picture according to the hand-writing on it to which it had obviously been glued using an egg white for glue.   

After a demonstration at the end of 1935 he was arrested by the Gestapo (the secret police) together with about 350 other like-minded people. First he was taken into custody to the Marstallgefängnis at the Burgtor (a prison near the northern city gate in Lübeck). He was subjected to several brutal interrogations by the Gestapo in the cellars of the old Zeughaus (arsenal), where Gestapo headquarters were located. 

Transport order by the Bremen Staatspolizei [4]
Transport order by the Bremen Staatspolizei [4]

In April 1936 the Hanseatische Oberlandesgericht (provincial high court) sentenced him to a four year prison term, followed by Sicherungsverwahrung (preventive detention). After having served his four year sentence he was transferred from Bremen-Ostertor Prison to Kiel Prison.

Franz Neitzke prisoner’s file card at KIEL Prison [5]
Franz Neitzke prisoner’s file card at KIEL Prison [5]

From there the Gestapo transferred him on 23 April 1940 to  the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp near Oranienburg north of Berlin where upon his   admission he was as prisoner No.19717 on 9 May 1940. He died there at 30 minutes past midnight on 1 August 1943 at only 49 years of age.

During his prison term his wife had filed a petition to divorce him. The divorce became effective on 20 August 1940. He never met his son, who had in the meanwhile turned 75 years of age, when he first learned that his father had been an eminent member of the Resistance.

References in Addition to Standard Reference Materials:

  • Imberger, Elke: Widerstand von "unten". Widerstand und Dissenz aus den Reihen der Arbeiterbewegung und der Zeugen Jehovas in Lübeck und Schleswig-Holstein 1933 - 1945, Neumünster 1991
  • Petrowsky, Werner und Arbeitskreis „Geschichte der Lübecker Arbeiterbewegung“:

    • Lübeck - Eine andere Geschichte. Einblick in Widerstand und Verfolgung in Lübeck 1933-1945
    • Alternativer Stadtführer zu den Stätten der Lübecker Arbeiterbewegung, des Widerstandes und der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung, hrsg. vom Zentrum, Jugendamt der Hansestadt Lübeck, Lübeck 1986

  • Lübeck unterm Hakenkreuz. Wegweiser zu den Stätten des Widerstandes und der Verfolgung in Lübeck 1933 - 1945 von Marianne und Günther Wilke, hrsg. von der Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Nationalsozialismus – Bund der Antifaschisten (VVN-BdA), o.O., o.J. (Lübeck 2008)

Christian Rathmer, 2010

Translation: Martin Harnisch and Glenn Sellick, 2012