Prisoner of Note – Ernst Thälmann, Communist Party Leader

The communist party continued to investigate the murder of party leader Ernst Thälmann. In the 1932 German elections, Thälmann lost to Hitler. When Hitler came to power, he lost no time in arresting Thälmann in 1933.

Henry begins reading from an old letter:
‘This is dated 1962. They sent this to my mother in Krakow because they didn’t have my address in the U.S.’
Dear Frau Zguda,
We have noticed that your son, Henry Zguda, born 1917 in Krakow may have something he can tell us about the death of Ernst Thälmann because he was a prisoner in Buchenwald at the same time.  He may know something.  We would be very thankful if you would give us the address of Henry Zguda.
He was the communist party head in Germany, and you know, after the war the communists were in charge.  There was a whole procedure and investigation.  They had a judge and a trial.  They wanted an investigation to find who killed him.  They had a judge and a trial. But I never responded. I was never a communist and now I am free. I don’t care about Thälmann.
I’d certainly never heard the name before. 
Ernst Thälmann (1886 – 1944) rose to the head of the German communist party beginning in the early 1920’s – in contention and competition with the Nazi party. Nazis and communists both appealed to the same populations or fan base – those on the poorer, non-churched, non-connected side of society – which was millions.  He also tried to align closely with the Soviet communist party. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1933 and spent eleven years in solitary confinement in various prisons. In August 1944 the Germans brought him to Buchenwald, where he was shot to death in the courtyard of the crematorium, his body shoved down the window chute to the basement, just one short elevator ride from the immediate cremation.  
In Europe he is considered one of the most famous victims of executions at Buchenwald, and rose to the status of communist ‘martyr’ especially in East Germany. A brief look at Wikipedia shows a monument to him in Berlin, an Ernst Thälmann statue in Weimar and many cities who named streets after him. In 1972 a small Cuban island was named for him, Cayo Ernesto Thaelmann. 
I’d be curious to know if those streets are still named after him, since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.  I’m certain he has no place in US history books since his name is synonymous with Communist history.* However, in Germany he is considered a historical figure. And . . . . the historical deficit of not explaining the role of communists to Americans – is Americans don’t really know, care or understand why Hitler started arresting his primary ‘competition’ as early at 1933 – namely communists. Thus the beginning of the concentration camp system began in 1933 with the arrest of communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

*The role of communism or Thälmann seems to have little place in a massive reference book – The Holocaust Chronicle. Whether it is intentional omission, or simply never entered the thought process of the dozens of authors and fact checkers, their premise again is that ‘the word Holocaust came into common usage to describe the catastrophe that befell the Jews during the war years.’ The scope of Polish history covered in this blog or mention of the horrible plight of Soviet POWs or any that is Henry’s story as that of a Polish political prisoner is therefore completely omitted from that huge ‘comprehensive’ reference book.