Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen

Come to the Anti-Fascist Action!

Responsible: Ernst Schneller, Berlin

The objects presented here, agitation material of the Communist Party of Germany from the early 1930s, obviously date from before the time of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.  They are linked via a detail to an important inmate of the concentration camp. Among the flyers and posters is the note: Responsible: Ernst Schneller, Berlin

Ernst Schneller, born in Leipzig on November 8, 1890, who initially worked as a teacher, took part in World War I as a volunteer and trained as an officer. As can be seen from his war diary, which the memorial also has, his political views changed significantly during the war. In 1920 he joined the KPD and in the following years was active as a publicist and functionary in various communist and anti-fascist alliances and actions.

As a KPD Reichstag deputy, Schneller was arrested the night after the Reichstag fire on February 28, 1933, and sentenced to six years in prison for "preparation for high treason." After periods of imprisonment in Berlin-Moabit, the Sonnenburg concentration camp, Prison II in Leipzig and the Waldheim penitentiary, he was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1939. Here he achieved great prestige among the communist prisoners and worked conspiratorially against the camp leadership with other like-minded people.

In March 1944, during an investigation into the embezzlement of valuables from murdered Jews by members of the SS, the SS discovered a radio listening station and writing utensils for disseminating news. The SS isolated Schneller, together with 160 other prisoners, in the cell block and barrack 58. 102 of them were transferred to Mauthausen, and 27, including Ernst Schneller, were shot on October 11.

The official memorial ceremony, which took place in Berlin on the third anniversary of the deaths of the murdered 27 prisoners, established a commemorative tradition that continues to the present day. In GDR times, Ernst Schneller was highly honored: schools, a barracks, a youth hostel, a recreation home, a college, streets and various military units and party organizations were named after him, a postage stamp was issued and a medal donated in his memory, there is an Ernst Schneller song and a biographical film about his life. Until the end, the claim of the GDR as an "anti-fascist state", taking over the heritage of the "fighters against fascism", was also connected with the commemoration of "the 27".

Numerous items with Schneller references in the inventory of the memorial's museum collection, including Schneller beer mugs, Schneller busts, Schneller commemorative coins, Schneller pennants, or school lunch weekly cards from Ernst Schneller schools, point to this.
To this day, an annual memorial service on Oct. 11 commemorates the murder of the 27.