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Herbert Baum, 1930 self-portrait

Herbert Baum (February 10, 1912 – June 11, 1942) was a Jewish member of the German resistance against National Socialism.

Baum was born in Mosina, Province of Posen; his family moved to Berlin when he was young. After he graduated secondary school there, he took on an apprenticeship as an electrician, which he carried on with as a profession.

By 1926, he was an active member of different left wing and Jewish youth organizations, and from 1931, he became a member of the Young Communist League of Germany (KJVD).

After the seizure of power by the National Socialists he began, together his wife Marianne Baum (February 9, 1912-August 18, 1942) and friends, Martin and Sala Kochmann, to organize meetings in the Kochmann drawing-room and other members' apartments about dealing with the threat of Nazism. The circle of friends, most of whom were Jewish, designated Herbert Baum as chairman. Up to 100 youths attended meetings at various times, and topics included political debates and cultural discussion. The group openly distributed leaflets arguing against National Socialism.

During 1940, Baum was rounded up and was forced into slave labour in the electro motors works of the Siemens-Schuckertwerke (today Siemens AG). From 1941, he headed a group of Jewish slave labourers at the plant, who, to escape deportation concentration camps, went to the Berlin underground

On 18 May 1942, the group organised an arson, attacking an anticommunist and anti-Semitic propaganda display prepared by Joseph Goebbels at the Berliner Lustgarten. The attack was only partially successful and, within days, a large number of the groups' members were arrested and 20 were sentenced to death. Baum and his wife Marianne were arrested on May 22. Herbert Baum committed suicide in Moabit prison on June 11, 1942. His wife, Marianne, was executed in Plötzensee Prison on August 18, 1942.

Legacy

There is a plaque in the Weißensee Cemetery in Berlin, commemorating the Herbert Baum Group and there is also a street by the cemetery named after him called Herbert-Baum-Straße. In the Berliner Lustgarten, a monument designed by Jürgen Raue was erected in 1981, which remembers the 1942 attack. While the East German government, which established these memorials, emphasized Baum's allegiance to Communism, other historians (as well as veterans of the groups) have noted his groups' multiple political and cultural influences, and the significance of the Baum groups as an example of Jewish resistance to Nazism.

Sources

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