Höltigbaum firing range memorial
Hamburg-Höltigbaum was a troop training area with firing ranges. In the last years of World War II, military courts in the Military District X sentenced numerous soldiers to death. The condemned men were executed in Höltigbaum firing range by firing squads from the surrounding barracks. Most of the men had been convicted of ‘desertion’ or ‘undermining military morale’. In the last four months of the war in particular, firing squads carried out executions here almost every morning. The last documented executions took place on 28 April 1945, just five days before British troops reached Hamburg.
After the war, Höltigbaum continued to be used as a training ground for the Bundeswehr (German army). When the Bundeswehr relinquished the site, a plaque was placed here on 5 September 2003 in memory of the executions. The plaque is part of the ‘black plaque programme’ of the Hamburg Cultural Authority. The Rahlstedt Peace Initiative arranged for the site to be turned into a small memorial. It is dedicated to the soldiers who refused to serve under the Nazi dictatorship and were persecuted and killed as a result. The fate of Wehrmacht deserters was overlooked for a long time. In the early 1990s, the artist Andrea Peschel erected a monument to deserters in Blankenese on her own initiative. However, the monument was removed in 2005. For the ten years that followed, the only place of remembrance for Wehrmacht deserters was the plaque in Höltigbaum. But in November 2015, the Memorial for Deserters and Other Victims of the Nazi Military Judiciary finally opened on Stephansplatz/Dammtor.
Since that time commemorates a bilingual plaque at the former Höltigbaum firing range by the Hamburg Cultural Authority as part of its ‘Sites of Persecution and Resistance 1933–1945’ programme, and a Stolperstein (stumbling stone) was laid in front of this black plaque in 2019 in memory of the soldier Herbert Klein (1922–1945).