Richard Weißensteiner

born 6 February 1907 in Pola
died 13 May 1943 in Berlin
historical former address Karlstraße 16
Stumbling stone Otto-Nuschke-Straße 16
Date of stone-laying 29 September 2006

Richard Weißensteiner was born on 6 February 1907 in Pola, which is in today’s Croatia, but which in those days was still in Austria. His parents Joseph and Ludmila Weißensteiner (née Putzel) had a total of 17 children. After Richard was forced to abandon his education at middle school as well as his apprenticeship as a lathe operator, he learned welding in evening classes and in 1922 began working in his chosen profession. From 1927 to 1928, he did his military service in Verona; two years later he went to France in search of employment.

In 1934, he moved to Fürstenwalde to live with his brother Walter and was granted German citizenship in 1936. In Berlin, he worked as a secretary and driver for his brother-in-law, a professor at the university polyclinic. He prob­ably met his future wife Johanna Stegherr in 1935 and married her in May 1937. In the same year, Richard Weißensteiner also took a job as a welder at Borsig-Werke and at Knorr-Bremse GmbH.

Richard Weißensteiner
Richard Weißensteiner

From 1939, he was a member of the “Red Orchestra”, a network of resistance groups centred around Arvid Harnack, Harro Schulze-Boysen and Hans Coppi that was one of the most important resistance organisations in the “Third Reich”. Richard Weißensteiner helped with the distribution of publications and leaflets. In September 1942, the Weißen­steiner couple hid Albert Hößler, a Soviet agent who had arrived directly from Moscow. By deciphering a coded wireless message from Moscow to Brussels, the Gestapo got hold of the names and addresses of Harro Schulze-Boysen and Adam Kuckhoff.

On 31 August, more than 100 people asso­ciated with the resistance network were captured in a wave of arrests. On 16 Septem­ber 1942, Johanna and Richard Weißensteiner fell into the hands of the Gestapo in Berlin. Johanna was released in December 1943 following her father’s inter­vention. Richard was sentenced to death and executed by guillotine in the prison at Berlin-Plötzensee on 13 May 1943.