In our Martyrs series, we will be highlighting the life and death of the ordinary SA and SS men, as well as those from the Hitler Youth (HJ). Each post will focus on one of these forgotten martyrs, giving as much detail about how they fell as is still available.
The following report concerns the murder of 17-year-old Rudolf Eck. Any grammatical errors are due to our translation skills (or lack of them!). All images and obituaries are from original sources.
Rudolf Eck. 16.02.1907 – 05.03.1924.
“Because he was wearing a hitler suit! The accused stated in the trial that he had beaten up the 17-year-old Rudolf Eck. He was wearing a windbreaker with the swastika armband, which was still common in the SA at that time and a canvas cap with the badge of the NSDAP.”
“He had not known the dead man before, and the prosecutor asked for only three months in prison for the murderer. The court, however, went beyond that with a sentence of three years in prison.”
Rudolf Eck was born in Erfurt on February 16 1907, the son of Oswald Eck, a master machine builder and his wife. In April 1910, the family moved to his father’s home in Langeweisen, a town east of Ilmenau in Thuringia, which attracted numerous summer visitors during the 1920s.
Here Rudolf Eck attended elementary school since Easter 1913, which he left after eight years with good grades and learned his father’s profession.
Since there was not yet a local branch of the NSDAP, he joined the Jungsturm in Ilmenau, Thuringia, and as far as possible for a boy at the age of 15, campaigned in the spirit of the NS movement. Because of his zeal for service, the Bund appointed Rudolf Eck as Jungsturmwart.
Already the young man had been attacked several times by political opponents. Two days before his death, the young mechanical engineer took part in the German Day in Jena. There was an altercation in which Eck was attacked with a knife, which he took home as a trophy.
On March 5, 1924, a political promotional evening took place in the town hall of Gehren, in which he participated with his comrades.
During the event there were scuffles with dissenters. Shortly after midnight, the seventeen-year-old started on his way home. On leaving Gehren in the direction of Langeweisen, he was attacked by three left-wing opponents and beaten to the ground with a fence rail.
After the boy collapsed, the attackers kicked him. An examination revealed that one blow to the back of his head had been fatal. In the morning he was found, still unconscious from which he never woke up.
The dead man was first laid out in the mortuary of Gehren and one day later he was transported to Langewiesen. On March 8, 1924, the funeral took place with many in attendance.
In a local paper on March 7, a letter to the editor clearly assigned the crime to a political one: “On his way home, some members of the Communist Party waylaid him, attacked him under the cover of night, and in a very mean way he was knocked down by several of these cowardly murder henchmen, so that death occurred after a short time.”
“The funeral of Rudolf Eck, which took place on Saturday, was, as was to be expected, most solemn and proceeded without any disturbance. In attendance were about 3,000 participants, not all of whom the cemetery could hold.
Among them were three colour-bearing clubs from Ilmenau with their banners, as well as Young German delegations with banners from other districts. Delegations from other districts attended with banners.
The Langwiesener Kriegerverein had also joined in, and one of the local singing societies sang funeral songs. Under the impressive speech of the clergyman not an eye remained empty of tears”.
“Only The Forgotten Are Dead”
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