Wessel, Horst, born on 09-09-1907 in Bielefeld in Westphalia, the son of Dr. Ludwig Wessel, a Lutheran minister at the Nikolaikirche, one of Berlin’s oldest churches.
Wessel’s mother, Luise Margarete Wessel, also came from a family of Lutheran pastors. The family, with Horst as oldest of three children, sister Ingeborg and brother Werner, lived in the nearby Judenstraße, the Jews’ Street, which in mediaeval times had been the centre of Berlin’s Jewish community. In April 1926 he enrolled in the law faculty of Friedrich Wilhelm University Unter den Linden. Horst had become too radical for the German National People’s Party, and in December of that year he joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and its paramilitary organisation, the Sturmabteilung (SA) . Wessel soon impressed Joseph Goebbels (did you know), the Nazi Party’s Gauleiter, who’s ashes, like Hitler’s ashes at the end were scattered from the Schweinebrücke over the river Ehle in Biederitz.
In January 1928, during a period when the Berlin city authorities had banned the SA in an effort to curb political street violence, Horst Wessel was sent on a trip to Vienna, to study Nazi organisational and tactical methods. In May 1929, Wessel was appointed leader of SA-Troop 34, based in the Friedrichshain district, where he lived. In October 1929 he dropped out of university to devote himself fulltime to the Nazi movement. Wessel played the schalmei, shawm, a type of oboe popular in Germany, and he founded an SA Schalmeienkapelle, shawm band, which provided music during SA events.
In early 1929, Wessel wrote the lyrics for a new Nazi fight song, which was first published in Goebbels’s newspaper Der Angriff in September, under the title “Der Unbekannte SA-Mann”, Unknown. This song later became known as “Die Fahne hoch” and as the “Horst Wessel Song”. It was later claimed by the Nazis that Wessel also wrote the music, but the tune was likely taken from a World War I German Imperial Navy song and is probably originally a folk song. The song was the most important SA parade song and sung by all Nazi meetings. The Horst-Wessel-Lied was the co national anthem of Nazi Germany between 1933-
1945 until it was banned
Death and burial ground of Wessel, Horst.
In September 1929, he met Erna Jänicke, an 18-year-old prostitute, in a bar. Soon he moved into her apartment in Große Frankfurter Straße. The landlady was Elisabeth Salm, whose late husband had been an active Communist. After a few months, there was a dispute between Salm and Wessel over unpaid rent. In the evening of 14-01-1930, Wessel answered a knock on his door, and was shot in the face with a 08 Luger by an assailant who then fled the scene. Wessel lingered in hospital for five weeks until he died on 23 February. Albrecht “Ali” Höhler a criminal carpenter
and an active member of the local Communist Party branch was sentenced to six years imprisonment for the shooting, and in the prison of Wohlau. He was executed by a group of SA members with Rudolf Diels
and Prinz August Wilhelm “Auwi” von Preussen after the Nazi accession to power, on 20-09-1933, age 35. Auwi von Preussen died age 62 on 25-03-1949 in Stuttgart. The KPD, however, denied any knowledge of the attack and said it resulted from a dispute over money between Wessel and his landlady. It is possible that Salm asked her late husband’s old comrades to help deal with her recalcitrant tenant. Another version says Wessel’s murderer was a rival for the affections of Jänicke. It is also possible that the shooting was revenge by local Communists for Wessel’s alleged role in the murder of a 17-year-old Communist, Camillo Ross, earlier in the day. Horst Wessel is buried with excessive honor, more a show case, on the cemetery Nikolai in Berlin. With the fall of the Third Reich in 1945, Wessel’s grave was in communist East Berlin. The memorial was destroyed and Wessel’s remains were apparently disinterred and also destroyed. The grave site is still marked only by part of the headstone of Wessel’s father.