Fritz Henßler

After 1945, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek took over several libraries of abolished Nazi institutions. These had been ceded to the Bavarian government by the American occupying power before. The thus acquired books served to replace losses due to the war, but at the same time also books stolen during the National Socialist regime thus came to be incorporated into the holdings of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. One example of such an item is a brochure formerly owned by the social democrat Fritz Henßler, which came to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in 1949.

Fritz Henßler  (data set in the common authority file, GND)

Fritz Henßler was born in Altensteig in the Black Forest in 1886, where he completed an apprenticeship as book printer after going to elementary school. He became member of the Social Democratic Party SPD already at the age of 19 and committed himself to the labour movement. As of 1910, Henßler lived and worked in Dortmund, first continuing working as a typesetter, later as a member of the editorial staff of the Dortmunder Arbeiterzeitung (Dortmund workers' newspaper). After the First World War, he was elected to the Dortmund city council for the first time, where he was chairman of the social-democratic group of city councillors as of 1925. He was the party chairman of the SPD for the region of western Westphalia as of 1929 and member of the Reichstag for his party as of 1930.

Due to his party-political activities, Fritz Henßler was taken into "protective custody" by the National Socialist rulers for several weeks already in 1933 and was removed from all his offices. After his release from custody, he cautiously took up contact with the social-democratic resistance and helped organising its activities in Dortmund. Arrested again in 1936 and sentenced to a one-year prison sentence, he was not released after completing his term, but locked up instead in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. After eight years of imprisonment in Sachsenhausen he managed to escape in a badly wounded state from the death march of the concentration-camp prisoners to the west in April 1945. A few weeks later, Henßler arrived back in Dortmund.

After the end of the NS regime, Henßler took up his work for the Social Democratic Party again immediately. Due to his outstanding position within the party, he became the party chairman in Westphalia, as well as member of the regional parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia as of 1946. In the same year, he was elected Lord Mayor of Dortmund. He became member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party in 1949 and of the European Parliament in 1952. Henßler died already in 1953, due to the consequences that the long-term imprisonment in the concentration camp had had for his health.

The booklet owned by Henßler is the publication "Die Kulturbedeutung des Sozialismus" (the cultural importance of socialism) by the Austrian politician and social philosopher Max Adler (1873 – 1937). A handwritten entry dated 1927 indicates Henßler's ownership. It cannot be ascertained any longer when exactly the book was taken from him. Two further stamps give important clues as to the process of confiscation, however: The stamp of the "Reichsinstitut für die Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands" (Reich institute for the history of the new Germany), a pseudo-scholarly NS research establishment, shows that the book was incorporated in the institute's library after confiscation. Large holdings of socialist literature were collected there among other things. After the end of the Third Reich, the books of the Reich institute were put at the disposal of the broadcasting station Radio München of the US armed forces, whose stamp can likewise be found in the book. The book collection of the radio station was later given to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich as a donation in 1949.

On 7 September 2015 the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek restituted the work to the City Archive of Dortmund, where parts of Fritz Henßler’s personal papers are preserved.

The restituted title continues to be shown in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue. It has been provided with a corresponding note of provenance, which is displayed under "mehr zum Titel" (more title information). It can be searched in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue by inputting "BSB-Provenienz: Fritz Henßler“ using the "Einfache Suche" search option. Since the City Archive of Dortmund has permitted digitization, a digital copy of the book is accessible online.

BSB-Provenienz: Fritz Henßler  (display in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue)
Max Adler: Die Kulturbedeutung des Sozialismus  (digital version)

City Archive Dortmund