The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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31 May 1933

Minutes of the general assembly of the St. Pauli Gymnastics Club

On 31 May 1933 the members of the Hamburg-St. Pauli Gymnastics Club attended a meeting with far-reaching consequences: together with two other members, Chairman Louis Nathan (1856–1935) was forced to "retire" from the club because of his Jewish origins. The minutes provide a detailed account of the proceedings.

Like sports clubs throughout the German Reich, St. Pauli made these changes to fulfill the provisions of the Directive on the Exclusion of Jewish Gymnasts and Athletes—the so-called Aryan Clause—which had been introduced by the Reich Sports Commissioner on April 25. In addition, all clubs were to be organized according to the "Führer principle." The chairman was now called "Führer"; he could only appoint additional board members after a review by a higher authority and he was required to report all the club‘s activities and plans. These rules suspended the club‘s democratic principles. As a result, all the members of St. Pauli‘s executive committee were forced, at least formally, to step down until confirmed in their positions by the German Gymnastics Association.

The Easter message by Edmund Neuendorff, head of the German Gymnastics Association, was also read at the meeting. Neuendorff took the opportunity to prepare the athletes for the new zeitgeist: "We want our blue gymnasts to achieve a status equal to that of the brown Stormtroopers and the gray Stahlhelm troops. Our ambition is to ensure that our blue companies will in no way be inferior to our German comrades from the Stormtroopers and the Stahlhelm groups when it comes to clarity of patriotic purpose, soldierly spirit and military capability."

As the minutes suggest, not everyone at the meeting was in agreement with the club‘s policies. One member said that he "took offense" at the athletes‘ mandatory "Gut Heil" salute. But as the others‘ reactions clearly show, he was in the minority.

The meeting also elected the non-Jew Curt Heinsen as the club‘s new chairman. Ludwig Nathan‘s comrades "unanimously" thanked him for his services.

Michaela Roßberg

Categorie(s): associations | Hamburg | sport
Minutes of the general assembly on 31 May 1933, excerpt from the minutes book of the Hamburg-St. Pauli Gymnastics Club, Hamburg, 1924–1939
Gift of Angela Roselius

March 1940

Ludwig Nathan died in Hamburg in 1935. The archive of the Jewish Museum holds an additional St. Pauli club document that refers to him. In March 1940 the head of the club—which now belonged to the National Socialist Reich Association for Physical Education—described the former chairman‘s work in great detail. The document does not mention that Nathan was a Jew and that he had been forced to resign as chairman because of the Aryan Clause. On the contrary—the last sentence in the document refers to a "voluntary" resignation.

The recipient of the letter was Nathan‘s son-in-law Hermann Pflieger-Haertel, who was not Jewish. We do not know why he requested an acknowledgement of Ludwig Nathan‘s work and services from the St. Pauli Gymnastics Club. Additional copies of this document are held by the Pflieger-Haertel family‘s estate.

Letter from Dieckmann, head of the Hamburg-St. Paul Gymnastics Club, to Hermann Pflieger-Haertel (copy), Hamburg, 18 March 1940
Gift of Hermann Bredl