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Non-violent resistance Organisation of resistance Post-war visions Resistance in cities Transnational Resistance

European Union

„In Germany and countries occupied by Hitler, many anti-fascist groups are today still working without connections. Many valuable and skilled political people are still isolated. They’re all striving for agreement. This agreement can today only be realized with the elimination of all ideological, dogmatic and religious prejudice. The goal is to overthrow fascism in Europe.

This text was clandestinely distributed in 1943 in Berlin, by a resistance group with the programmatic name „European Union“. It was created in 1939 by several intellectuals who knew each other since the beginning of the 1930s, among them Robert Havemann, a chemist and Georg Groscurth, a doctor. The group produced anti-Nazi-leaflets, helped Jews in hiding by procuring forged ID-documents, lodgings and food, established contacts with other resistance groups and with foreign forced laborers in Germany, especially from Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and France, who became part of the group. The aims of the „European Union“ were to “overthrow fascism in Europe”, “reestablish basic individual liberties” and “create a socialist order in an united Europe”. On one of their leaflets they explained what they understood by “European Socialism”: “Socialism does not mean the eradication of the bourgeoisie, the suspension of private property and creation of a bloody dictatorship of dogmatic Marxists, [but rather the] elimination of private interests from politics and economy“ and a „liberation of the individual from economic paternalism.“ Creating a common Europe was also for other resistance groups a necessary consequence out of the terrible war.

In September 1943, most of the around 50 members of the group were arrested by the Gestapo and 13 were executed.  After the war, the communist regime in the GDR put forward the legacy of the group, and one of the surviving members, Robert Havemann, became representative in the East-German parliament. But he soon became critical towards the regime and one of the leading dissidents in the GDR. He was dismissed from his teaching position at the Humboldt-University in Berlin in 1963, harassed by the Stasi and put under house arrest in 1976, where he spent the last years of his life, until his death in 1982. Because Havemann had become a dissident, the group „European Union“ was not promoted any longer in the GDR.

In 2006, Robert Havemann and four other members of the European Union, Anneliese and Georg Groscurth, Paul Rentsch and Herbert Richter were awarded the title Righteous among the Nations from the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.


Nicolas Moll

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