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Anti-Nazi Resistance: Rote Kapelle (“Red Orchestra”)

“Had anyone called them spies, they would have rejected the label; they regarded themselves as revolutionaries” — Gilles Perrault, The Red Orchestra

Of all the anti-Nazi resistance organizations in Germany, the most effective was the Schulze-Boysen/ Harnack group in Berlin, known to the Gestapo as “Rote Kapelle” (Red Orchestra). Harro Schulze-Boysen was deputy to Hermann Göring, chief of the Luftwaffe (German air force) and thus had access to Germany’s most important military secrets, which were passed along to the Soviet Union.

The group also published illegal anti-Nazi propaganda, including a fortnightly newsletter, Die Innere Front (The Home Front) in six languages. Among the leaders who worked on the newsletter were Adam and Grete Kuckhoff, who sent the telegram, shown here (left and right) to Ühr Lorke, Grete Kuckhoff’s brother, on March 27, 1940. Even at that time, when the German-Soviet non- aggression pact was in force, this secret group of Communists was preparing to oppose Germany’s war effort and to rally the German people against Adolf Hitler.

Most members of the Schulze- Boysen/Harnack group, including Adam Kuckhoff, were captured and executed by the Nazis in 1942. Ühr Lorke was conscripted into the German army and killed in battle. The Nazi provincial governor’s May 19, 1944, condolence letter to his widow is shown here (far right). Grete Kuckhoff survived the war and headed the economics ministry of the German Democratic Republic.

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