European Union 

Physical chemist Robert Havemann and Dr. Georg Groscurth, later senior physician at the Robert Koch Hospital in Berlin-Moabit, became friends in 1933. Both opposed the Nazi regime from the outset. On July 15, 1943, together with Paul Rentsch and Herbert Richter, they founded the European Union resistance group in Berlin. Their long-term aim was to create “a socialist order in a united Europe.” As early as 1942 they had also started helping Jews in hiding evade deportation. Havemann arranged lodgings and procured forged ID documents. When Heinz Günther Wolff went into hiding with his mother in January 1943, Havemann and Groscurth arranged for both of them to stay with Hanna Stappenbeck in Schönwalde near Berlin.

Jewish businessman Walter Caro, who was living in hiding, went during office hours to Dr. Georg Groscurth, his former doctor, in the spring of 1943 and offered forged Wehrmacht ID cards and other documents for the doctor to pass on to Jews in hiding. In the summer of 1943, Frankfurt commercial artist Walter von Scheven asked his Berlin friends to help his Jewish wife Elisabeth, as in Frankfurt even Jews living in mixed marriages were being deported. Groscurth and his wife Dr. Anneliese Groscurth, parents of two sons, a two-year-old and a two-month-old infant, harbored the Frankfurt woman in their apartment in Charlottenburg.

Paul Rentsch, a dentist, and his wife Margarete, also parents of two children, helped as well. Rentsch was able to get forged ID papers for Hertha Brasch, a Jewish widow, with which she was able to hide for seven months with a seamstress in Berlin-Weissensee. The Rentsches also let Elisabeth von Scheven stay in their weekend house in the Brandenburg town of Diensdorf. Architect Herbert Richter, father of a two-year-old boy, took in Alfred and Marie Michalowitz, who had gone into hiding.

The members of the European Union resistance group also had contact with forced workers and prisoners of war. After only a short time, however, the group was discovered, and Havemann, the Groscurths, and Richter and his wife Maria were arrested. When Paul and Margarete Rentsch were arrested in Diensdorf, Elisabeth von Scheven was also discovered.

Because it could not be proven that the wives were involved in any political activities, they were released and could return to their children in December 1943. On May 8, 1944, Georg Groscurth, Herbert Richter, and Paul Rentsch were executed in the Brandenburg-Görden penitentiary. In his last letter to his wife, Groscurth wrote, “Remember that we are dying for a better future, for a life without hatred.… I die proud and unbroken.”

Robert Havemann was also sentenced to death. However, friends arranged a research job for him that was ostensibly vital to the war effort, and he survived the war in prison.

Hertha Brasch, Agnes Wolff, and her son Heinz Günther were deported to Auschwitz in early 1944 and murdered there. Walter Caro died in Auschwitz in March 1945, two months after liberation. Elisabeth von Scheven survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, the only survivor among those helped by the group.

In 2005 the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem honored Anneliese and Georg Groscurth, Robert Havemann, Paul Rentsch, and Herbert Richter as Righteous Among the Nations.

Florath, Bernd. “Die Europäische Union.” In “Der vergessene Widerstand” – Zu Realgeschichte und Wahrnehmung von Opposition und Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus, edited by Johannes Tuchel, 114–139. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2005.
Sandvoß, Hans-Rainer. Die “andere” Reichshauptstadt: Widerstand aus der Arbeiterbewegung in Berlin 1933 bis 1945, 241–254. Berlin: Lukas, 2007.