Free German Movement

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Free German Movement , also Free Germany Movement , was the name of some German groups in exile in various countries during the National Socialist era . The aim was to fight against National Socialist rule in Germany. Many movements were disbanded in the years after 1945, as the governments feared the influence of the communist ideology of these movements and the main movement of the Soviet-backed National Committee Free Germany (NKFD). The exile magazine Free Germany is considered the spiritual basis of the movements . Alemania libre , published in Mexico City from 1941 to 1946 .

Country organizations

The movement had different names in each country:


In northern France , which was occupied from June 1940 and in the south of France, which was occupied from 1942 - the Vichy regime - groups formed (e.g. BFDW - Movement Free Germany in the West , French CALPO - Comité Allemagne libre pour l'Ouest , also responsible for Belgium and Luxembourg ). The French Resistance officially accepted the BFDW as part of the Resistance. So-called Wehrmacht groups existed illegally in the Wehrmacht. Its activities included gathering information, liaising with the Resistance, distributing propaganda material, sabotage and acquiring weapons. Local committees existed in more than 25 cities, and local or regional committees in almost all areas until the liberation in October 1944.


Based on the model of the NKFD , the Antifascist Committee Free Germany (AKFD) was formed in Greece in August 1944 . It was constituted at the headquarters of the Greek ELAS in consultation with a Soviet military mission by former members of the Penal Division 999 , namely Falk Harnack and Gerhard Reinhardt . There was loose telegraphic contact with the NKFD in Russia. The AKFD only existed until December and was primarily entrusted with the integration of German prisoners of war and defectors as well as the recruitment from remaining Wehrmacht units. In the beginning of the Greek Civil War , ELAS also used German fighters against British troops and the nationalist militias that were allied with them, such as EDES .

Great Britain

In Great Britain the organization called itself Free German Movement . There was also the Free German Cultural Association and, for young people, the Free German Youth .


After the governments in Sweden and Switzerland had invoked the neutrality of the respective country and forbade the refugees from any political activity, it was not until January 1944 that German exiles founded the “Free German Cultural Association” in Sweden as a non-partisan federation that is roughly all political Directions of the Weimar Republic included.


The organization was officially founded at the national delegates' conference on May 27, 1945 in Zurich. The organization began in 1943 when it was illegal under the leadership of Wolfgang Langhoff. The movement produced a newspaper of the same name that was illegally distributed. The reason for this was that the “Movement Free Germany” was not officially approved until March 1945.

The first members were:

Surname function City / nationality free, interned or released
Wilhelm Abegg Central management - Presidium - State President Zurich / German Empire / Switzerland free
Charlotte von Kirschbaum Central management - Presidium Basel free
Wolfgang Langhoff Central management - Presidium Zurich / German Empire
Rudolf Singer Central management - secretary Zurich / German Empire interned
Erich Bogen Central management Friborg
Heinz Fliess Central management Zurich
Walter Gyssling Central management Zurich
Harry heart Central management Zurich
Paul Meuter Central management Zurich interned
Hans Singer Central management Zurich interned
Jo Mihaly Central management Zurich
Hans Teubner Central management Zurich interned
Leo Bauer Central Committee Geneva
Fritz Diez - representative for Carl Tesch Central Committee St. Gallen
Georg Engelbrecht Central Committee Bern
Arthur Huwa Central Committee Lausanne
Heinz Mode Central Committee Basel interned
Erich Moltmann Central Committee Hochdorf
Heinz Pechner Central Committee Geneva
Erwin Reiche Central Committee Bern
Ludwig Schmidt Central Committee Basel
Gotthard Stehr Central Committee Zurich
Walther Thiele Central Committee Muri
Michael Tschesno-Hell Central Committee Zurich


From July 12 to 13, 1943, the National Committee for Free Germany was founded in Krasnogorsk near Moscow on the initiative of the USSR .

Latin America

Pro-communist groups of German-speaking exiles also emerged in Latin America, such as the Free German Movement in Brazil, led by Johannes Hoffmann , or the Free Germany Movement in Mexico, founded in January 1942 under the leadership of Ludwig Renn and Paul Merker ; the first secretary was Otto Katz . The organization brought out the magazine Alemania Libre (Free Germany), a major exile magazine that influenced similar groups throughout Latin America. The editor-in-chief was the Austrian Bruno Frei . Other important members included Anna Seghers , Bodo Uhse , Alexander Abusch , Walter Janka , Kurt Stern , Paul Mayer and Leo Zuckermann . In addition, it succeeded in founding the El libro libre publishing house in Mexico, a German-language publishing house that published the works of numerous writers in exile.

The BFD Mexico organized the amalgamation of movements from Central and South American countries, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, Uruguay and Santo Domingo.

Founded as a non-partisan and non-denominational front of the German-speaking exiles against Hitler, the Mexican BFD was clearly dominated by the German Communists, which is why the ongoing war developed tensions in the movement. The Austrian exiles in Mexico, who were still heavily involved in the "Liga Pro Cultura Alemana" and the Heinrich Heine Club , which had existed since 1938 , founded an independent movement in 1941 under the name Acción Republicana Austriaca en México , the magazine Austria Libre published. Since the Moscow Declaration in 1943 at the latest , the Austrian exiles no longer hoped for a free Germany, but for a free Austria. Jewish exiles in Latin America, however, under the impression of the terrible news about the Holocaust in Europe, turned to more and more Zionist groups and increasingly distanced themselves from German exile organizations. The communist claim to supremacy of the Free Germany Movement also prevented cooperation with the Das Andere Deutschland movement, which operated in South America from Argentina and was more republican and pacifist.

In early 1943, the Latin American Committee of Free Germans (LAK) was constituted as the umbrella organization for all German anti-fascist groups and organizations in Latin America, with its headquarters in Mexico City .

United States

In the United States , the Council for a Democratic Germany was founded in 1944 .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Biographical manual of German-speaking emigration after 1933–1945 in the Google book search
  2. ^ Heike Bungert: The National Committee and the West: the reaction of the Western Allies to the NKFD and the Free German Movements 1943–1948 . Franz Steiner Verlag, 1997, ISBN 978-3-515-07219-9 ( [accessed on September 10, 2019]).
  3. Hans Modrow: The stage on which the future was rehearsed. In: AG Peace Research. January 7, 2012, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  4. Committee Free Germany in Southern France, Our Fatherland special issue for prisoners of war, 1943, article in it: "What is and what does the Free Germany Movement " ( Memento of February 11, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Burkhardt et al .: The one with the blue note 1986, p. 273 ff.
  6. DRAFD information 07-2002 Horst-Heinz Meyer: education about Nazi Germany - The Free German Cultural Association in Sweden
  7. Wolfgang Kießling: It started on Lake Maggiore. In: New Germany. January 5, 1993. Retrieved July 27, 2019 .
  8. cf. Singer, Rudolf, curriculum vitae, p. 2, 1959
  9. Employee is u. a. Heinz Mode . From 1944 to 1945 he belonged to the Free Germany Movement (BFD), and worked on the magazine of the same name.
  10. “Germany must live, therefore Hitler must fall!” The worldwide movement “Free Germany” 1943–1945. Announcement of the exhibition by the German Resistance Memorial Center .
  11. cf. Election minutes "National Committee Free Germany" Switzerland, May 27, 1945
  12. Gottfried Hamacher: Against Hitler. Germans in the Resistance, in the armed forces of the anti-Hitler coalition and the "Free Germany" movement. Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2005, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  13. ^ Project of the University of Potsdam: Exile in Mexico in the 1940s - The Free Germany Movement ( Memento from March 20, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Christian Kloyber: Austrian authors in Mexican exile 1938 to 1945 (PDF; 29 kB)
  15. ^ Latin American Committee. October 27, 2005, accessed September 10, 2019 .