Executions · Germany · Political

German teen beheaded for distributing anti-Nazi publications

October 27, 1942
Berlin, Germany
17-year-old Helmuth Günther Guddat Hübener is executed for defying the Nazi regime

Hübener, a devout member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (also referred to as Mormons), was morally against the actions of the Nazis, including the limiting of civil rights of all citizens and in particular the treatment of the Jews. Hübener, believing the whole truth of the war was being withheld by the government, then began listening to an illegal multi-language broadcasts from the BBC. (The broadcasts from other nations were strictly prohibited by the Nazi regime, who hoped to keep the public’s knowledge of the progress of the war and other such news to suit their own purposes, and offenders were punished for treason if discovered.)

While listening to the British accounts of the war and the crimes high-ranking Nazi officials were accused of, Hübener began to realize the extent of the misinformation and Nazi propaganda. His friends and fellow Mormons, Rudolf Wobbe and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, assisted Hübener, and together they took the knowledge gained from the forbidden broadcasts to type leaflets which they scattered, left in phone booths, pinned to bulletin boards, or stealthily stuck in coat pockets. Feeling the leaflets were not enough, Hübener decided to translate the papers into French, asking co-worker Gehard Düwer to assist. While discussing the translations, they were seen and reported to authorities. The Gestapo arrested Hübener and Düwer on February 5, 1942, just over a month after Hübener’s 17th birthday; a few days later, Wobbe and Schnibbe were arrested as well.

After 10 weeks of imprisonment and torture, Hübener and his compatriots were tried. During this time, Hübener was excommunicated from the church. Hübener was reportedly defiant against his judges, which his friends believed was an act done to pull attention from the others, hoping for a lighter punishment for them. His ploy apparently worked as he was the only one to receive a death sentence. At his sentencing, Hübener told the judges “I have to die now for no crime at all. Your turn is next!” Wobbe, Schnibbe, and Düwer survived the war.

Hübener was beheaded by guillotine, the youngest person executed for treason by the Third Reich.

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