Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen

Wooden box with a double bottom

“... so I have to take this risk now” (Hein Schmidt, 31 Aug. 1944)

Wooden box with a double bottom by Hein Schmidt, 1944 (III 611).

Eight-page hidden farewell letter from Hein Schmidt, 31 Aug. 1944 (22.00033 (permanent loan)).

Only a few inmates exposed themselves to the danger of secretly smuggling messages out of the concentration camp. This was only possible with the support of outsiders.

Hein Schmidt, a communist prisoner from the Ruhr area, secretly made this wooden box in the Lichtenrade satellite camp.

Schmidt was a trained model maker and an active trade unionist. In May 1933 he emigrated to the Netherlands after refusing to join the Deutsche Arbeitsfont, a NS organization that took the place of the trade unions. In mid-August 1936 he was expelled for illegal activities, and a few weeks later he was arrested in Oberhausen and transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was registered as a political prisoner of conscience with prisoner number 471.

In the spring of 1944, the activities of an illegal international communist resistance group became known. Schmidt, who had been in the Berlin subcamp Lichtenrade since June 1944, was part of the group. Before he had to return to the main camp after the group was discovered, he entrusted the box he had built himself to a civilian worker, who sent it to the family. Schmidt was transferred to the Mauthausen concentration camp along with 100 other prisoners of the group with the note "return undesired". 27 other prisoners were shot in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on October 21, 1944.

Schmidt survived the Mauthausen concentration camp and returned to his wife in the Netherlands after liberation. He died on 18 June 1981.

Hein Schmidt donated the box to the memorial in 1961. The hidden farewell letter was given to the memorial as a permanent loan in autumn 2020.

All pages of the cassiber can be read here (in German). A German and English version of the transcript can be found here.