Georg Steffen (1891 - 1946)

Georg Steffen was born in 1891 in Kagar near Rheinsberg. His Huguenot ancestors, Protestant religious refugees from France, settled in this village in Brandenburg in 1686. Since then the office of village mayor has been in the hands of the Etiennes, who later adopted the name Steffen. Georg Steffen was also the village mayor of Kagar. In 1919 he married Elise Thimm (born 1896), who came from a pious Protestant family in nearby Zühlen. The couple had two sons, born in 1920 and 1928. Georg Steffen was a farmer, but he and his wife also ran an inn and guesthouse. He was politically bourgeois-conservative. Although he rejected Nazism, Steffen joined the Nazi Party in 1933 because he thought this would allow him to retain his position as village mayor and permit him to protect the village from the grasp of real Nazis.

During the Second World War, men and women from Poland and Ukraine were forced to work on the Steffens’ farm. Georg and Elise Steffen treated these forced workers humanely. Consequently, the local Nazi party group from the neighboring village demanded in a harsh tone that the couple treat the Ostarbeiter (Eastern workers) more severely.

Susanne Meyer, a Jew in hiding, also arrived at the Steffens’ inn in the summer of 1943 for the first time, through Alois Florath, who had been a Social Democratic journalist and had withdrawn to Kagar until his death in 1944. She introduced herself as Charlotte Klose. Elise Steffen surmised her real situation, and until April 1945 Susanne Meyer continued to stay at the Steffens whenever she needed lodgings.

A few weeks after the war ended, when Susanne Meyer had long since left Kagar, Georg Steffen’s Nazi Party membership as the head of the local farmers group became his undoing. Initially he retained his office as mayor, but a short time later was arrested by the Soviets and interned in various camps. The official reason for his imprisonment was “illegal possession of weapons.” It is probable that Steffen was denounced. He was first interned in the Soviet special internment camp in Ketschendorf and later transferred on April 16, 1946, to the Jamlitz camp near Lieberose. Elise Steffen fought to get her husband released. She was able to visit him once and filed a petition for clemency, but it could not save him. Georg Steffen died in the camp in June 1946 from hunger and exhaustion.

He was never acknowledged for his humaneness in a time when that required particular courage. Elise Steffen died in 1973 in Kagar.

Kosmala, Beate. “Zuflucht für Verfolgte: Kagar bei Rheinsberg.” In Juden in Rheinsberg: Eine Spurensuche, edited by Peter Böthig and Stefanie Oswald, 163–170. Karwe (Neuruppin), Germany: Edition Rieger, 2005.
Georg Steffen
Photo: privately owned


Rescue Attempts


  • Nazi Party

    Nazi Party

    In Munich in 1920 Adolf Hitler announced the anti-democratic and racist program of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP, founded in 1919 as the German Workers Party). The party was an authoritarian organization headed by the “Führer”; it gained political significance during the economic and state crisis around 1930. From 1933 on it was the sole party. Up to 1945 around 8.5 million Germans had become “party comrades.”