Memorial site in the courtyard of the former Altona court prison
Altona 'Bloody Sunday’
On 17 July 1932, 7,000 uniformed SA and SS men, some of them armed, marched through Ottensen and Bahrenfeld to Altona. A large number of police protected this propaganda march, which had been publicly advertised and was a deliberate provocation in the district known as ‘red Altona’. Members of the Communists and the Antifaschistische Aktion (Anti-fascist Action) had announced that they would oppose the march.
When the demonstration reached the historical centre of Altona, passers-by were violently attacked, leading to a fierce confrontation between the marchers and counter-demonstrators. Shots were fired, and the situation escalated when the police forcefully intervened and began firing wildly in the winding streets and alleys. 80 people were injured in this violent confrontation, some of them seriously, and 18 people were killed, including two SA members.
On 8 May 1933, shortly after the Nazis came to power, 15 people who had been arrested during the demonstration were put on trial. A special court was set up for this in the Altona Regional Court building, which is now the district court on Max-Brauer-Allee. The main charge against the defendants was the murder of the two SA men who had been shot. On 2 June 1933, the special court sentenced August Lütgens, Bruno Tesch, Karl Wolff and Walter Möller to death for the supposed ‘joint murder’ of the two SA men, although there was no conclusive evidence of their guilt. This was the first political trial conducted by a National Socialist judiciary, and it was intended to set an example. On 1 August 1933, the four condemned men were beheaded with a hatchet in the courtyard of the neighbouring prison.
It was over 60 years later, on 13 November 1992, that the Hamburg Regional Court finally reversed the men’s conviction, which had been based on dubious witness statements and manipulated evidence. The executed men were exonerated.
A plaque was installed in August 2005 in memory of the four men who were executed. The plaque is located behind the district court in the grounds of the former prison. In 2015, another plaque was dedicated to the victims of the Wehrmacht’s military justice system who were detained in the Wehrmacht remand prison that was also located here.
Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes / Bund der Antifaschisten (VVN/BdA)