Johannes Höber “Taken into Protective Custody” by the Nazis, March 13, 1933

Report of Johannes Höber’s Arrest by the Nazis, Mannheimer Tageblatt, 13 March 1933

The newspaper article pictured above comes from the Mannheimer Tageblatt, one of the major newspapers of Mannheim, a city of half a million people.  Dated March 13, 1933, the article reads as follows:


The Police Report states: Over the course of the last several days the following leaders of the SPD [Sozialistisches Partei Deutschland, or German Social Democratic Party] were taken into protective custody:

    • City Division President and State Representative Ernst Kraft,
    • Division Leader of the Reichsbanner [SPD militia] Dr. Helffenstein, dentist,
    • Dr.Höber, member of the Divisional leadership of the Reichsbanner [SPD militia],
    • District Councillors Werner and Meier and neurologist Dr. Stern.

Protective custody was imposed on Mayor Dr. Heimerich at Theresa Hospital, where he is presently located.

The following individuals upon whom protective custody has been imposed have not been located: Senator Roth, State Representative Reinhold, the editor Harpuder, the editor Dr. Schifrin, attorney Dr. Kirschner, and reporter Diamant.

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933.  In the rigged Reichstag election of March 5, the Nazis received a plurality (though not a majority)  of the votes cast and declared themselves rulers of the nation.  In the wake of this takeover of the national government, state and local Nazi groups attacked the seats of government in state capitols and cities throughout the country.  On March 8, local Nazis, supported by armed Storm Troopers and SS squads, forcefully drove the elected officials of Mannheim out of the city hall, burned the flag of the democratic Weimar republic in the city’s main square, and hoisted the Swastika banner on the city hall.

Johannes Höber, 29, was a promising young member of Mayor Hermann Heimerich’s Socialist administration when the Nazis seized control of the city.  He was also an activist in the German Socialist Party (Sozialistische Partei Deutschland, or SPD) and the Reichsbanner, the Socialist Party militia formed to protect Socialists from Nazi Stormtroopers.  Johannes’ “protective custody” in the city jail lasted five weeks.  At one point, Johannes and the other Socialists asked to be released.  In response, the Nazis took them to a balcony overlooking the courtyard of the jail, where a prearranged crowd of brown shirted Storm Troopers screamed for their blood, purportedly justifying the prisoners’ continued detention.

After he had been held for some time, Johannes’ father, Rudolf Höber, a professor of physiology at the University of Kiel, travelled to Mannheim to talk to the Nazi leadership there.  Rudolf negotiated a deal under which Johannes agreed to leave Mannheim and never return in exchange for his release from “protective custody.”  He and his wife, Elfriede, and his daughter, Susanne, moved to the north German city of Düsseldorf, where they lived for five years before emigrating to the United States.  In fact, Johannes did not return to Mannheim for 28 years.

Rathaus (City Hall) in Mannheim where Johannes Hoeber worked and was later imprisoned by the Nazis

5 Comments on “Johannes Höber “Taken into Protective Custody” by the Nazis, March 13, 1933”

  1. Patrick Hennessy says:

    Astonishing entry in this edition. Thank you for the reminder of the terrifying events that transpired long before June 30th, 1934 that illustrate how sinister and expressly calculating National Socialism went to thrash political dissent.

    Thanks also for the allusion to the removal of all things Weimar-related in Mannheim. It is easy to historically overlook the fact that, in the 14 years of its existence, the Weimar Republic contened with myriad problems, including hyperinflation, political extremists on the left and the right intent on its overthrow, and lingering retribution insisted on it from the victors of World War I (amplified via the Dawes Plan). Its response: it satisfied the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles, stabilized its currency markets, constructed a rail system, passed progressive taxation, and bolstered significant cultural impact with its art, music and cinema.

    Not a bad record, that.

    Yours is a terric series.

  2. Katherine Parkin says:

    What a chilling newspaper account. Thank you for providing both the historical and personal context for this imprisonment. I concur with Patrick, a terrific series!

  3. […] part time for Johannes and Elfriede as a secretary in their small newspaper distribution business (the Nazis having expelled my father from his government post years earlier).  Because she was completely reliable, Johannes and Elfriede could leave Frau […]

  4. […] they called “protective custody” for five weeks, as previously narrated on this website here.  In the months before the takeover, Johannes had been involved in the militia arm of the […]

  5. […] matter of weeks.  My father, Johannes (1904-1977), was the first victim in our family, when he was arrested in March and imprisoned for several weeks because of his liberal politics, and my grandfather, Rudolf […]

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