walter schulze-mittendorff bio 18

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff

18. In The Face Of Horror
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Walter Schulze-Mittendorff has to deal with the paradox situation where he was actually ready to leave Nazi-Germany, because he clearly saw what he would be faced with when he stays, viz. the direct experience of the persecution of the Jews, relinquishment of artistic freedom, and, ultimately, the war. Yet exactly from a sense of responsibility towards his Jewish father-in-law, he forgoes his emigration. The horror he is now confronted with requires strategies which make it possible to afford a life in the midst of survival, for the best possible well being for him and his wife.

Document acknowledging official use of the surname Schulze-Mittendorf for the married couple.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff sees through the Nazis and their plans, this enables him to take the first step. 1932 he officially registers the double-barrelled name he had already been using for the previous 12 years. He might have been motivated by considering the fact that ‘Schulze’ would be too anonymous a name, as it is one of the most common, and in the case that his wife should be arrested it would make it easier to find an imprisoned person whose name is rare and conspicuous.
Later on, when things get to be dangerous for his wife, he will repeatedly go straight to the authorities where he negotiates the agreement for her to be able to stay at home; costs are involved with this, the assets melt away. He tells the people on location: “Why do you speak of my wife as ‘half-Jewish’, you might just as well refer to her as ‘half-Arian’! It may be due to his daring stance that he is spared from being forced to divorcing his wife, and even when later on his marriage crumbles he will remain married, until his wife dies in 1949.

From 1941 onwards Walter Schulze-Mittendorff perpetually witnesses the criminal deportation. The Grunewald train station serves passenger transportation within the city, while the front section of the station is used for goods traffic. Track No. 17 is the first track of the goods station, and is directly accessible via a platform; all the other tracks can only be reached by stairways. The Trabener Straße runs towards the Grunewald train station, and the back of the property of the house No. 19, the dwelling of Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, is adjacent to track 17. In the last three and a half years of the war 50.000 Jews are deported and taken to the extermination camps in the east, starting from this track. The people are taken to the train station on trucks that drive along the Trabener Straße, and at the back front of the properties they are unloaded on track 17 and like cargo they are placed on the goods wagons which will take them to the death camps. To Walter Schulze-Mittendorff it was inconceivable that there are people after the war maintaining not to have registered anything of these abductions, while it was so very obvious in Berlin. Today, Track 17 is a memorial „Zum Gedenken der Opfer der Vernichtung“ (“In Commemoration of the Victims of the Extermination”).

Track No. 17 – a Memorial
“In Commemoration of the Victims of the Extermination”)

Back of the house Trabener Straße 19
View from Track 17

Mention should be made here that, aside from the main group of those who are persecuted – the Jews, who are systematically exposed to their extermination, also the Sinti and Roma, the Communists and Social Democrats, the pacifists and defeatists (these are people who speak the truth about the nefarious war which is punished with death penalty, like it happened to the siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl), the mentally and physically disabled, the homeless, the homosexuals, the prostitutes, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the astrologers, and the Swing-Youth (the young fans of American Swing-music) are targets of persecution. Many of these people are sentenced to death, or they perish in the concentration camps.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, drawing,
Victim of Fascism, Breaking Away From the Earth

For Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, the greatest danger to his life comes with the start of the Second World War in 1939. Owing to his experience of the First World War, and his subsequent clear anti-war position, it is now absolutely out of the question for him to go to war for the Nazis. Moreover, his being drafted into the army would mean he would have to leave his wife behind without protection. Since he had been involved in five more films between 1935 and 1938, he decides to agree to a contract with Terra Filmkunst GmbH, as costume designer, in 1940. This is a wise move of his because film production falls under the control of the Propagandaministerium (officially: Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda), and as a film worker he is automatically registered as indispensable on Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbel’s list whereby he is exempt from military service.
At the end of the war there is a situation where, for a moment, things are quite precarious for him. All men capable of bearing arms, between 16 and 60 years old, are now recruited to the so called ‘Volkssturm’ (Peoples' or National Militia) in one totally futile, last defiant struggle before the final downfall. An estimated 175,000 of these men who are called to the ‘Volkssturm’, are supposed to have been killed in action during the last months of the war. Walter Schulze-Mittendorff is also recruited to the ‘Volkssturm’ shortly before the end of the war. When he arrives at his division and on seeing the platoon leader, he acts very quickly and decisively. Putting his hand in his coat pocket he simulates the barrel of a gun with his long fingers, and pointing it at the platoon leader he addresses him sharply: “Unless you let me go at once, I’ll shoot you.” The platoon leader is so shocked at this he lets him get away without any argument. 
A short while after, the war is over and the reign of terror of the National Socialists, the empire of crime, has come to an end.
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