Julius Leber

Julius Leber : Nazi Germany

Julius Leber, the son of a bricklayer, was born on 16th November, 1891. After a brief formal education he became a journalist. He developed left-wing political views and joined the Social Democratic Party in 1913.

In 1914 he joined the German Army and during the First World War was wounded twice. He was also decorated for bravery and by the end of the war he reached the rank of second lieutenant.

During the German Revolution Leber supported the rebels and helped put down the Kapp Putsch in Berlin in 1920.

Leber worked as editor of the SDP newspaper in Luebeck before being elected to the Reichstag in 1924. Over the next few years he became one of Germany's leading opponents of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor in 1933 Leber was arrested and sent to concentration camps at Esterwegen and Oranienburg as a "danger to the State". After being released in 1937 he continued to work with the resistance and joined forces with Adolf Reichwein, Claus von Stauffenberg, Hans Dohnanyi, Hans Oster, and Carl Goerdeler in an attempt to overthrow Hitler.

On 4th July, 1944, Leber was arrested and charged with being involved in what became known as the July Plot. Although tortured for two months by the Gestapo Leber refused to confess to his involvement in the failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. Julius Leber was found guilty and executed on 5th January, 1945.

Primary Sources

(1) Willy Brandt interviewed by Terence Prittle (1974)

He was a wonderful man, a modern, very active man. He would belong to what one would call the right wing of the party, but he was an activist too. People liked him, even loved him, and I was very impressed by his activism.

He came to the conclusion that if you fight for a thing that is right and honest, then you have eventually also to take the consequence, which means to give your life. Many of us felt that way during those years.