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Hitlers RivalErnst Thälmann in Myth and Memory$
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Russel Lemmons

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813140902

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813140902.001.0001

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“We Are Building upon the Foundations Created by Ernst Thälmann”

“We Are Building upon the Foundations Created by Ernst Thälmann”

Chapter:
(p.110) (p.111) 3 “We Are Building upon the Foundations Created by Ernst Thälmann”
Source:
Hitlers Rival
Author(s):

Russel Lemmons

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813140902.003.0004

By mid-summer of 1944, Ernst Thälmann had outlived his usefulness to the Nazi regime. It was clear that Germany was losing the war, and Hitler wanted to leave no possible successor behind him. Thälmann was executed in the early hours of August 18 and cremated at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Efforts to keep Thälmann's death a secret failed and word of the events spread quickly throughout the camp. Hitler's regime refused to take responsibility for the death of the celebrated political prisoner, claiming instead that Thälmann was killed by an Allied air raid. The KPD leader's death provided German communism with its most significant antifascist martyr. His death sparked a mass antifascist movement throughout Germany. The Thälmann myth played an important role in the creation of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), the result of an effort to combine to KPD and SPD. Thälmann's death was celebrated more forcefully than his life.

Keywords:   Buchenwald, Antifascism, SED

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