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January 4: The Jewish Mayor of Berlin

January 4, 2014
Elsas.1Fritz Elsas, a deputy mayor of Berlin from 1931-33 until he was deposed by the Nazis, was murdered at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on this date in 1945. Elsas served as a host and courier for a group planning a coup against Hitler, headed by Carl Goerdeler, the former mayor of Leipzig, and was selected as the intended head of the Reich Chancellery in a new government — but the coup failed on July 20, 1944. Elsas then harbored Goerdeler before falling into the Gestapo’s hands himself in August. He was tortured and then executed without any legal proceedings at all. His wife Maria and their three children were imprisoned as well, but survived the war. Elsas had converted to Christianity in 1912 while gaining his doctorate in politics at the University of Tübingen, but to the Nazis he remained an “eternal Jew” and a political dissident. Today, the cities of Stuttgart and Berlin each have a street named after him. “A member of the German Democratic Party (DDP) from 1919 on, Elsas rapidly became one of the leading local government politicians of the Weimar period.” —Gedenkstatte Deutscher Widerstand