Why One Man Refused to Salute Hitler in Nazi Germany
Beginning in the 1930s, German citizens were required by law to salute Adolf Hitler, but a photo captured in 1936 showed at least one man refused to follow that order
In a sea of men extending their right arms in obedience to the Nazi leader, August Landmesser stood with him arms defiantly crossed across his chest at the launch of a naval training vessel.
Though Landmesser was part of the Nazi party, he had fallen in love with Irma Eckler, a Jewish woman. When they became engaged, he was expelled from the party and their marriage was denied under the Nuremberg Laws.
“It was particularly bad when my mother became pregnant the second time. Before I was even born, my father was taken into detention for the crime of racial disgrace,” Irene Eckler, the couple’s youngest daughter who was born in a concentration camp, said during an interview with the History Channel.
Landmesser and Eckler had tried to flee to Denmark with their first child and another one on the way, but were apprehended and detained.
After refusing to end their relationship and publicly remaining together, Landmesser was sentenced to three and a half years in a concentration camp and then was drafted into military service, where he was killed in action.
Eckler was sent to a concentration camp, where it is believed she was taken to the Bernburg Euthanasia Centre.