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Wilhelm Leuschner

(1888 - 1944)

Wilhelm Leuschner was born June 15, 1888, in Bayreuth. He joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) while still a teenager and assumed executive responsibilities in the labor union movement. As Hessian minister of the interior from 1928 to 1933, he neutralized the National Socialists. Because of this, he was attacked after Hitler's rise to power and arrested on May 2, 1933, after the labor union movement is crushed.

Leuschner was sent to the Lichtenberg concentration camp for two years for refusing to support international recognition of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front). After his release, Leuschner ran a small business and established contacts with former political friends and the resistance circles around Beck and Goerdeler while traveling on business. He doubted the Nazi state could be overthrown, but reached out to the conspirators in the military and maintained close contact with Canaris, Oster, Olbricht, Beck, Goerdeler, and Stauffenberg. The other conspirators called him "uncle".

Leuschner was experienced in the formation of cells and underground tactics and built a network of allies throughout the Reich labor world. He tried to win over the large labor unions and associations, and reached understandings with various left and right-wing labor unions. He was to assume the office of vice chancellor in the event the assassination attempt on Hitler of July 20, 1944, should succeed.

When the coup failed, Leuschner surrendered to the Gestapo, which had already arrested his wife. On September 9, 1944, he was sentenced to death and murdered the same day at the execution site in Berlin-Plötzensee.

Sources: Joric Center