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Until 1933, the former Cafè Merk at Ludwigstraße was the headquarter of the KPD-O (Kommunistische Partei Deutschland-Opposition/Communist Party of Germany-Opposition). While the Nazi party members celebrated their victory over democracy on Nuremberg’s streets in January 1933, Karl Grönsfelder and his comrades hastily handed out leaflets to the public hoping to raise a general strike against the new regime. This hope left them as ADGB (Allgmeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund/main confederation of German trade unions), SPD (Social Democratic Party, strongest working class party) and KPD (Communist Party of Germany) couldn’t agree on a unified action against the fascists. When the KPD-O was banned, its members went underground. The party’s possessions, e.g., typewriters or printing presses, were hidden in a summer house at the city’s outskirts where Grönsfelder continued his – now illegal – political activism.

Groensfelder

Historical image-source: StadtAN A38 A-72-7

The mechanic and trade union activist Karl Grönsfelder (*1882) was a founding member of the Communist Party in Nuremberg back in 1919. Soon afterwards he began to criticize the party’s official politics, which aimed at dividing the trade unions unity. Along with 65 fellow comrades he left the Communist Party for this reason and founded the KPD-O (Communist Party-Opposition). Grönsfelder and his comrades of the KPD-O saw the most powerful instrument against the rise of fascism in a general workers’ strike backed by all of the working class organisations. This idea was partly rooted in the experiences of 1920. Back then, such a strike successfully stopped a right-wing antidemocratic coup d’etat (named Kapp-Lüttwitz-Putsch, after the two officers who lead this attack against the republic). But Grönsfelder’s call for unified action was fruitless, since SPD and KPD, the strongest of the working class parties, had completely opposing political strategies and were openly hostile towards each other

Risking his own safety after the ban of all the working class organisations, Grönsfelder worked in close contact with the KPD-cell in the Nuremberg urban quarter “St. Johannis”, where one of the very few antifascist underground newspapers was printed and distributed. Until April 1933 the members of KPD-O met secretly in a nearby forest to discuss their further options of resistance.

Karl and Emma Grönsfelder in 1962. With kind regards to Hans Steiger who provided the Photograph!

Karl and Emma Grönsfelder in 1962.
With kind regards to Hans Steiger who provided the Photograph!

On April 12th 1933, Grönsfelder was arrested along with his wife and imprisoned for two years in the concentration camp at Dachau. This was the beginning of the end for the attempts of the KPD-Os to resist the Nazi-regime. Until the end of WWII, members of this small Party were arrested and at least two of them were murdered in concentration camps. Karl Grönsfelder himself survived the war and engaged in the re-instantiation of working class organisations after the liberation of 1945. He worked as a committeeman in a local company and from 1947 onwards in the district board of the Communist party. He died in 1964.