Etkar André

17 January 1894 – 4 November 1936





website in










November 4, 1936 - November 4, 2016

Website published on occasion of his 80th Day of Death

Etkar André

executet by the Nazis on

4th of November, 1936

“Edgar André lives. In his spirit, we march: Despite all.”



Etkar André was held in custody for 3 1/2 years during which time he was also badly tortured. When it was over, he could only walk on crutches and he had lost his hearing. The triasl began on 4th May 1936 in Hamburg. The prosecution could not present sufficient evidence of his guilt. Nevertheless, the prosecutor asked for the death sentence (according to Hitler's orders). This was imposed on him on 10th July 1936 and he was beheaded on 4th of November 1936 despite international protest. A few hours after the execution, 5, 000 Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel prisoners went on strike. In Spain from 1936-1939 voth Ernst Thälmann and Etkar André had battalions nemed after them in the International Brigade.


This 1936 German pamphlet denouncing Andre’s execution concludes:

“Etkar André lives. In his spirit, we march: Despite all.”

"From England we say: Release Ernst Thalmenn and Etkar André !"

"Free Etkar André ! Hail Thälmann!"

"Save Etkar Anré from the executioner's axe!"

"Prevent the judicial murder of Etkar André!"



Martin Andersen Nexö:

The Moscow Documents contain 118 letters to Hitler with more than 2, ooo signatures of protesters against the executions of the Communist Etkar André. André was leader of Hamburg's Red RFront Fighters' League, which was the German Communist Party's paramilitary organization, founded in 1924. It was banned in 1932 after repeated street fights with Nazi Stormtroopers. André had been arrested after the Reichstag fire, presumably using the new powers of the Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State, which gave the Nazis authorities the legal ability to - often promised - abolition of the concentration camps is seen as an unavoidable humanitarian demand. At the same time we gladly express our sympathy and support for the European amnesty conference for political prisoners in Germany, which has been called by well-known public figures from around the world. (Martin Andersen Nexö)


On this date in 1936, communist politician Etkar Andre was beheaded in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Prison for treasonous complicity in the Reichstag Fire.

A politician raised in Belgium, Andre had bolted the Socialist Party of Germany for the Communist Party in the early 1920’s, becoming a major labor leader in Hamburg. Andre was arrested within days of the 1933 Reichstag Fire as Adolf Hitler crushed official leftist opposition.

But Andre was not brought to trial for over three years — by which time torture had crippled and deafened him, and the political climate made the doubtful nature of the evidence against him scant protection in the courts. His conviction and sentence were a foregone conclusion.

The Spanish Civil War, which erupted over the summer of 1936 between Andre’s trial and execution, saw the service of a battalion in the International Brigades named for Etkar Andre.

Just days after Andre was beheaded, that battalion entered its first action — with German volunteers helping stave off fascist capture of Madrid. The unit’s hymn commemorated their namesake:




The “Etkar André” Battalion resting behind the frontline, 1936. The battalion was one of the first of the International Brigades to form, named after a prominent German KPD leader from Hamburg, who was arrested by the Nazis in 1933 and executed in July, 1936, after extensive torture, shortly before the Spanish Civil War started.

Das Batallion Etkar André

(MP3) - Erich Weinert

Als Franco Spanien überfiel,
Da stand die Freiheit auf dem Spiel,
Die unser aller ist.
Drum setzte sich die Welt zur Wehr,
Wir kamen über Land und Meer.
Pack dein Gepäck, Faschist!

Die Freiheit ist unser Gefährte.
Es kämpft in ihrem Geist
‎“Das Bataillon, das kampfbewährte,
Das Edgar André heißt”

Als vor Madrid sie standen schon,
Stand auch das André-Bataillon
Und schlug sie übern Fluss.
So hielten wir den Feind vom Land,
Mit Spaniens Brüdern Hand in Hand,
Gewehr bereit zum Schuss!

Die Freiheit ist unser Gefährte.
Es kämpft in ihrem Geist
‎“Das Bataillon, das kampfbewährte,
Das Etkar André heißt”

Es kommt der Sieg, es kommt der Tag,
Da führen wir den letzten Schlag.
Des Feindes Fahne fällt!
Und ist erst Spaniens Erde frei,
Dann kommt auch Deutschland an die Reih'
Und uns gehört die Welt.

Die Freiheit ist unser Gefährte.
Es kämpft in ihrem Geist
‎“Das Bataillon, das kampfbewährte,
Das Etkar André heißt”‎




Born in Aachen, André was a manual labourer's son. By the time he was five, he had already lost his father, and his mother, who was ill, found it quite hard to look after her three children. Belgian relatives brought them to Liège where for a while, Edgar found himself living at an orphanage. After leaving school, he took up an apprenticeship at a bookshop, where he came into contact with political literature.

In 1911, he became a member of the Belgian Labour Party, and in only two years' time, he had become the Secretary of the Socialist Worker Youth in Brussels. In 1914, he took part in the Party Congress of the Belgian Labour Party. Etkar André experienced the horror of World War I, serving for three years until it ended in 1918. He then campaigned against the war’s source, “international finance capital and militarism,” while a propagandist for the International Union of Seamen and Harbor Workers.

In the First World War, he volunteered for service in the Rhineland and in late 1918 wound up a prisoner of the French. After coming back to Germany, he went first to Koblenz, where he joined the Socialist Worker Youth and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In 1922, he moved to Hamburg. There he worked in building and at the harbour, and he became a member of the Building Workers' Alliance, and later also the Transport Workers' Alliance.

During the post-war early 1920s depression, which struck Germany especially hard owing to the war reparations exacted from it by the Treaty of Versailles, André came into sharp conflict with the SPD's policies, resulting in his resignation from the party, and his joining the KPD on 1 January 1923. He soon belonged to Ernst Thälmann's circle of friends. As a member of the KPD's Wasserkante District Leadership (1926 - 1930), he was one of the best liked labour leaders in Hamburg.[citation needed] As the Hamburg jobless workers' spokesman, he likewise stepped forward as co-founder and leader of the Wasserkante branch of the Rotfrontkämpferbund, the KPD's protection and defence organization (1924 - 1929). After attending the KPD's party school, André was, in 1931-32, active in the International Union of Seamen and Harbour Workers as an instructor and propagandist, spending much of his time in Belgium and France. His knowledge of French was a great advantage to him in this endeavour.

After Hitler seized power following the Reichstag fire, Edgar André was arrested on 5 March 1933. He was held in custody for three and a half years, during which time he was tortured. When it was over, he could walk only on crutches, and he had lost his hearing. When his trial began in Hamburg on 4 May 1936, on charges of murder, nine cases of attempted murder and public order offences, the prosecution could only present insufficient evidence of André's guilt. Nevertheless, the prosecutor requested – one assumes on Hitler's personal orders – that the death penalty be imposed. On 10 July 1936, the judge imposed just such a sentence.

While the authorities ignored the international protest movement over the case, André was taken forth and beheaded on 4 November 1936. A few hours later, Fuhlsbüttel Prison's 5,000 inmates went "on strike" in protest over André's death.

In the Spanish Civil War a short time before, the first battalion of the International Brigades was formed under the name "Etkar André".




Bredel, Willi: Etkar André : ein deutscher Antifaschist mit dem Tode bedroht. - Strasbourg : Ed. Prométhée, 1936

Uhse, Bodo: Die erste Schlacht : vom Werden und den ersten Kämpfen des Bataillons Etkar André. - Strasbourg : Ed. Prométhée, 1938

Joachim Priewe: Begegnung mit Etkar André, Ein Lebensbild, Berlin 1986.