Baum, Herbert.

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Baum, Herbert, born 10-02-1912, in Moschin, Province of Posen; the son of a bookkeeper, and his family moved to Berlin when he was young. After he graduated from secondary school there, he began an apprenticeship as an electrician, which became his profession.

By 1926, he was an active member of different left wing and Jewish youth organizations, and from 1931 he became a member of the Young Communist League of Germany (KJVD).  After the seizure of power by the National Socialists he began, together with his wife Marianne Baum and their friends, Martin and Sala Kochmann, here standing in the middle, to organize meetings dealing with the threat of Nazism, meeting in the Kochmann drawing room and in the apartments of other members. Baum was a very convincing personality, even charismatic. Both Herbert and his wife had a certain romantic streak, which prompted outsiders to accuse them of indifference. On the other hand, it must be said that Baum also aroused extreme loyalty from his fellow members, even those who disagreed with Baum on the attack. The circle of friends, most of whom were Jewish, designated Herbert Baum as chairman. Up to 100 youths attended these meetings at various times, engaging in political debates and cultural discussions. The group openly distributed leaflets arguing against National Socialism.

In 1940 Baum was rounded up and forced into slave labour at the electromotive works of the Siemens-Schuckertwerke (today Siemens AG). From 1941, he headed a group of Jewish slave labourers at the plant, who, to escape deportation to concentration camps, went into the Berlin underground. However, Baum also made contact with non-Jewish resistance groups, including Werner Steinbrink’s group. Non-Jews had more freedom of movement than the Jews, which was beneficial for the activities of the Baum group. This contact with Steinbrink would prove to be of great value for the attack on the Soviet exposition. Steinbrink worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute as a chemical technician.  In mid-May 1942, he also made the detonating material for the arson attack on the anti-Soviet propaganda exhibition “The Soviet Paradise” in Berlin’s Lustgarten on 18-05-1942. Steinbrink was arrested a few days later, sentenced to death on 16-7-1942, and murdered in Berlin-Plötzensee on 18-08-1942, age 25.

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.

Death and burial ground of Baum, Herbert.

 

On 18-05-1942, the group organised an arson attack on an anticommunist and anti-Semitic propaganda exhibition prepared by Joseph Goebbels at the Berliner Lustgarten. The attack was only partially successful and, within days, a large number of the group’s members were arrested and 20 were sentenced to death. Baum and his wife Marianne were arrested on May 22. Herbert Baum was tortured to death in Moabit Prison, dying on 11-06-1942, age 30. The Gestapo reported his death as a suicide. His wife, Marianne, was executed in Plötzensee Prison on 18-08-1942. Listing of some of the Baum Group’s members with their dates of birth and death; they were all executed in Berlin-Plötzensee on 04-03-1943: Heinz Birnbaum (1920–1943) , Hella Hirsch (1921–1943) , Hanni Meyer (1921–1943) , Marianne Joachim (1922–1943), Lothar Salinger (1920–1943) , Helmut Neumann (1922–1943), Hildegard Löwy and Siegbert Rotholz (1922–1943) . There is some disagreement as to the manner of death of at least one of the members. Helmut Neumann was either hanged or decapitated.

Herbert Baum is buried at the Jewish cemetery Berlin Weissensee and on the back of his gravestone all victims are named. There is a street named after Hewrbert Baum in Berlin,

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