Buchenwald camp bans memorial for one of its most famous victims

Ernst Thälmann was a role model for unbroken resistance to Nazi terror, even under the most brutal conditions.

Ernst Thälmann, German Communist party chairman and Comintern steering committee member, was a true internationalist. In 1926 he led Hamburg dockworkers in a solidarity strike to stop the port undermining the ongoing strike by British miners. He was shot on Hitler's personal order at Buchenwald concentration camp on 18 August 1944.

The following call for action has been circulated by the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD).


We are writing to let you know of a most serious incident: the Internationalist Alliance, a group of 38 organisations in which the MLPD takes part, has registered a memorial event for Ernst Thälmann, the wartime chairman of the Communist Party of Germany, on 17 August at Buchenwald concentration camp. Seventy-five years ago, Comrade Thälmann was executed there by the henchmen of Hitlerite fascism.

Last week, a letter came from the foundation that manages the memorial foundation at the camp, signed by Mr Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau, to say that the event in remembrance of Ernst Thälmann is banned – and this, although it had already been approved! Members or supporters of the MLPD are even threatened with “being denied access to the memorial”. Something like this has never happened before!

Letters of protest are flooding in from a broad spectrum of people, among them descendants of former jewish prisoners. They express their consternation and declare their solidarity. Tassilo Timm and Klaus Dimler (himself a son of a concentration camp prisoner and resistance fighter in Buchenwald), who registered the event, have described the action as an “excess of anticommunism”.

As the foundation attempts to justify the ban, false allegations are being made, such as that the Internationalist Alliance, in which Palestinian groups also participate, is ‘antisemitic’ – because of its completely justifiable criticism of the policies of the Israeli government.

This is all in line with the rightward lurch of the government in Germany and the anticommunist defamation campaign, which is steered by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and the paradigm shift of bourgeois ‘antifascism’ it has initiated. More and more, the great number of victims and sacrifices of the Soviet Union, the Red Army and the communists are being ignored and only the jewish victims and sacrifices are honoured.

Of course, the Internationalist Alliance will not bow to this ban. Buchenwald is a symbol of the most brutal terror of the Hitlerite fascists in the service of German monopoly capital. The camp held many political prisoners: communists, social democrats, trade unionists and other antifascists of many nationalities.

Buchenwald is unique among German WW2 concentration camps in having achieved its own liberation, under the leadership of an international camp committee led by communists, among them the father of the memorial’s notifier, Klaus Dimler.

Ernst Thälmann was a role model for unbroken resistance to Nazi terror, even under the most brutal conditions.

Dear friends, colleagues and comrades, we request that you support the protest against the ban of this memorial event!

Send protest letters to the Buchenwald foundation, and ask well-known persons to write as well.

Or write to us. We would be happy to forward letters to the foundation and the Internationalist Alliance, or organise translation.

Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation
Buchenwald 2
99427 Weimar


Internationalist Alliance



Following worldwide condemnation, the ban on this memorial event was lifted and the event went ahead as planned on 17 August 2019.