Post-1933, many streets in Hanover were renamed after prominent National Socialist figures or in honour of party organisations. Bahnhofstrasse became “Adolf-Hitler-Strasse”, the square in front of the Stadthalle [now the Congress Centre] became “Hermann-Göring-Platz”, and Lange Laube became “Strasse der SA”, SA Street [SA is the abbreviation of ‘Sturmabteilung’, literally ‘Storm Detachment’, the Nazis’ paramilitary wing, known as ‘Brownshirts’]. Close by was the headquarters of the regional NSDAP leaders [Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, i.e. the National Socialist German Workers’ Party or Nazi Party].
Thugs in the “Kampfzeit”, the Time of Struggle
The Sturmabteilung (SA) is the paramilitary combat organisation of the NSDAP during the Weimar Republic and plays a key role in the rise of the National Socialists by putting squads of thugs on the street and acting as “stewards” to keep public order at meetings. After the Nazi victory, rivalry develops between the SA and the Wehrmacht, the Germany Army. Consequently, in June 1934 its leaders are killed, with the help of the SS [abbreviation of “Schutzstaffel”, “Protection Squadron”], under the guise of preventing an alleged coup d’état (the “Röhm purge”).
Gauleitung: Nazi Party headquarters
The headquarters of the NSDAP Gauleitung for the south Hanover/ Braunschweig region is located roughly on the site of the present-day Allianz Tower in in Dincklagestrasse (no longer existing today). The Gauleiters are Bernhard Rust (1928-1940) and Hartmann Lauterbacher (1940-1945). Lauterbacher is the driving force behind the ghettoisation of the Jewish population into “Jewish houses”. This “Aktion Lauterbacher”, named after him, is the precursor to the deportation of the Jews to extermination camps, which begins in December 1941.
During the war Lauterbacher makes a name for himself as a fanatical National Socialist. In the final years and months of the regime he, like all Gauleiters, is assigned additional functions. In his case this means after October 1944 he also has responsibility for establishing the “Volkssturm”, a last bid militia or People’s Army consisting of squads of children and pensioners. In contrast to the local population, Lauterbacher spends the period before the arrival of American troops safe in the Gau command post. This is a bombproof bunker at Hanover’s Schützenplatz, the old parade ground next to where today the football stadium stands. Even just a week before the end of the war, from here he is broadcasting over wired radio exhortations to hold out against the onslaught. Under the slogan “Better dead than a slave” he issues threats, such as: “Those of us who are not with us (…), who raise the white flag and surrender without a fight, will die.”
Escape after exhortations to hold out
Like most of the Gauleiters he personally prefers to flee rather than fight. On 8 April 1945, he loads up his car with millions of cigarettes – allegedly intended for troops in the “Harz stronghold” – and flees to the Harz mountains. Although after the war Lauterbacher stands trial several times, he is never convicted. On the contrary, he resumes his career in the changed political climate. According to “Spiegel” [the weekly current affairs magazine], Lauterbacher works in the 1950s as a contact person for the German Intelligence Service [the Bundesnachrichtendienst, abbreviated to BND]. Between 1977 and 1981, the former Gauleiter and Deputy Reich Youth Leader is employed as an official advisor to the Sultan of Oman on youth matters.
Additional online information
Wikipedia entry Hartmann Lauterbacher
Wikipedia entry Sturmabteilung (SA)
Simon Benne /HAZ “What became of Hanover’s Nazi leaders?” [Article in German]
LEMO The Nazi regions [in German]
Further reading: Click here
Texts and images: Michael Pechel