Fritz Henßler

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Fritz Henßler

Friedrich Wilhelm Henßler (* 12. April 1886 in Altensteig , † 4. December 1953 in Witten ) was a German politician of the SPD , a resistance fighter against the Nazis and mayor of the city of Dortmund .


Fritz Henßler was born on April 12, 1886 in Altensteig, Württemberg, the 14th of 15 children of a dyer. He attended the Protestant elementary school there until he was 14. He then completed an apprenticeship as a printer and typesetter . At the age of 20 he went on a journey and reached Münster in 1908 , where he worked as a typesetter. A year later he left Münster for Dortmund, where he was a typesetter in the Crüwell printing house. In April 1911 he joined the editorial team of the Dortmunder Arbeiter-Zeitung , a month later he became a political editor. When the editor-in-chief Ernst Mehlich was drafted into the military at the outbreak of the First World War, Henßler took over his post.

In August 1916 Fritz Henßler himself was drafted into the field artillery on the western front. He returned to Dortmund in 1918 and immediately took over the editorial management of the Dortmunder Arbeiter-Zeitung, renamed Westfälische Allgemeine Volkszeitung . As editor of the social democratic party organ, he regularly took part in meetings of the city council group.

In September 1927 Fritz Henßler married Ella Richter († 1991), who had worked in the SPD district office since 1920.

After the National Socialist “ seizure of power ” in 1933, he was taken into “ protective custody ” for ten weeks and, with the SPD ban in June 1933, removed from all his public offices. He made cautious contacts with the social democratic resistance. On April 25, 1936, he was arrested by the Secret State Police and sentenced to one year in prison after a year in pre -trial detention in the Steinwache . Since the prosecution had failed to prove high treason , the law against the formation of new parties served as the basis for the judgment. He was not released from pretrial detention, but was interned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp on June 7, 1937 . He spent eight years there before being sent on the death march towards Mecklenburg on April 20, 1945. Fritz Henßler was able to escape, although seriously injured, and hid in Schwerin until May 2, 1945 . He never publicly described the circumstances of his imprisonment, he limited himself to the brief statement "Nine years imprisonment, eight of them in concentration camps, usual concentration camp treatment."

In the post-war confusion he returned from Schwerin to Dortmund in June 1945. There he immediately got involved again for the SPD. In addition, he campaigned for the rebuilding of the trade union movement on behalf of the British military government , receiving support from August Schmidt (IG Bergbau) and Heinrich Sträter (IG Metall). Also together with Sträter and Paul Sattler , he received the license for the Westfälische Rundschau in early 1946 , which first appeared on March 30, 1946.

Years of diverse parliamentary activities followed at local, state and federal level as well as in the joint assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community . On November 23, 1953, Henßler collapsed at a conference of officials in Bochum. He died on December 4, 1953 at the age of 67 in the deaconess hospital in Witten. His funeral sparked great sympathy among the Dortmund population.

Political party

On May 1, 1905, he joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the German Metalworkers' Association . He volunteered in the SPD and in 1908 became chairman of the electoral association for the Münster-Coesfeld constituency. In 1920 he became chairman of the SPD sub-district of Dortmund, and shortly afterwards chairman of the SPD district of Western Westphalia. After 1945 he headed the party headquarters of the Western Westphalia sub-district. At the first SPD post-war conference in Wennigsen, he led the negotiations. From 1947 he was chairman of the committee for company and trade union issues and was also chairman of the state committee for the coordination of party work at the state level.


In the local elections in 1924 he became a member of the Dortmund city council, where he was elected head of the city council in 1925 as the successor to Ernst Mehlich, who had died in a railway accident. He took Ernst Mehlich's children into his care. Fritz Henßler, whose positions were usually the official ones of the majority SPD , advocated the welfare and welfare system in local politics. In addition, during his term of office there was brisk municipal construction activity in Dortmund, such as the Westfalenhalle and the Volkspark with the Rote Erde stadium . From 1929 to 1933 he was a member of the Westphalia Provincial Parliament .

On September 14, 1930 Henßler moved into the Reichstag for the constituency of Westphalia-South , where he campaigned for the interests of the Ruhr area. He remained a member of the Reichstag until 1933.

After the end of National Socialism, Henßler immediately became politically active again. He was appointed to the appointed Landtag in 1946 and remained in the North Rhine-Westphalian Landtag, which had been elected since 1947, until his death in the following years . Since the end of 1946 he was parliamentary group leader of the SPD. He was a member of the Zone Advisory Council from 1946 to 1948.

Henßler was also involved again in local politics. He refused a first offer from the British occupying power for the office of Lord Mayor of Dortmund, but from October 29, 1946 he finally took it over, as Herbert Scholtissek's successor , and did it until his death in 1953.

With the federal election in 1949 , he moved to the German Bundestag a directly elected in constituency Dortmund I . On July 16, 1952, he was sent to the European Common Assembly . The long-term consequences of his imprisonment in the concentration camp increasingly weakened his health. In 1953 he decided not to run for the Bundestag again, and he also turned down the second party chairmanship in the SPD alongside Erich Ollenhauer for health reasons.


The Fritz Henßler Vocational College and a municipal youth and meeting center of the city of Dortmund are named after Fritz Henßler. The SPD parliamentary group awards the Fritz Henßler Prize every two years to organizations that are committed to civic coexistence.


  • Günther Högl, Hans-Wilhelm Bohrisch (ed.): Fritz Henßler 1886–1953: “The person always far behind the matter” - social democrat, member of the Reichstag and Lord Mayor of Dortmund . Klartext, Essen 2003, ISBN 3-88474-472-0 .
  • Martin Schumacher (Hrsg.): MdR The Reichstag members of the Weimar Republic in the time of National Socialism. Political persecution, emigration and expatriation, 1933–1945. A biographical documentation . 3rd, considerably expanded and revised edition. Droste, Düsseldorf 1994, ISBN 3-7700-5183-1 .
  • Karin Jaspers / Wilfried Reinighaus: Westphalian-Lippian candidates for the January elections in 1919. A biographical documentation , Münster: Aschendorff 2020 (publications of the Historical Commission for Westphalia - New Series; 52), ISBN 9783402151365 , p. 86

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Günther Högl: Henßler, Friedrich Wilhelm (Fritz) . In: Hans Bohrmann (Ed.): Biographies of important Dortmunders. People in, from and for Dortmund . tape 3 . Klartext, Essen 2001, ISBN 3-88474-954-4 , p. 97 ff .