Interview with Adi (Adolf), SA member and IG Farben worker, Germania Club, 1986.
*Special thanks to E. R. for translation help.

'In the National Socialist State, the focus for every thought and every action is the Nation; within it, and in connection with it alone, the "I" and the "We" are decided.
The National Socialist revolution comprises life in its entirety, giving us the lofty ethos of our idea of State, the brotherhood of the people, and the community of the people.
And thus it consciously determines the Nation's new life.
As for all areas of cultural life of the people, the motto of "Public Need Before Private Greed" holds good for sports too, and for physical culture in general...
...the Nation further demands a race which is hard, tough, and strong.
This vital demand has created a form of physical education which comprises not only the training of the body to fighting pitch, but also the ideological indoctrination of the mind...'
--The 1936 edition of the National Socialist Party Handbook, Chapter 35.

Thanks for letting us speak to you; I understand you were a member of the SA, can I ask why you joined and what was it like?

Adi: Of course, you know we must be quiet as we speak, it is not wise to advertise one's past in today's world. I will tell you a bit about my history first. I was born in Aachen right at the start of the first war. My father was a wireless operator for the army and served in Belgium and France. He was wounded in 1916 and sent home to teach at the signal school, so this kept him safe and he survived the war. He later worked at the theater running and operating the lights and sound system. My mother got work as a maid in 1933 at a famous hotel in Aachen, the Quellenhof. In 1932, when I turned 18, I joined the local SA [Sturmabteilung] to protect speaking events. I was a wrestler in school and liked competition. Many of my classmates who leaned to the Nazis talked me into joining them. Back then you were either a communist, a Nazi, or still believed in having a king.

My father hated the communists for what he saw them do after the war; they attacked and killed many German soldiers returning from France. They had their eyes set on a seizure of power and they fought many battles against the army and anti-communist forces around the Rhineland. My father was attacked in 1923 by a mob of them for his loyalty to the monarchy and government. He was put in the hospital, I remember visiting him and he had a bandaged head. They beat up many people who did not agree with them or opposed them. I had a friend whose father was beaten for not joining the union, and put into a coma.

So you can see I had no reason to love the communists. I saw their dark side as I was growing up. I would see their pamphlets put up all over the city, and for awhile we were considered a red city. They poured in a lot on money to win elections, and the newspapers were in their hands as well. When the Nazis started to challenge them, it was 1926. I saw a leaflet thrown in the gutter one day. It was from Goebbels and spoke of a new Germany, a national awakening, doing away with godless communists, and returning Germany to a place of pride. I liked what I read and went with my father to listen to a speaker one day.

It was a rowdy affair, with the communists outnumbering the Nazis. I wanted to fight them; they all looked so scrawny and dirty. The few SA men that were there looked like strong military men and I knew then I wanted to be one of them. I saw one SA man take three reds and throw them out of the hall and give them all a good beating. They were throwing rocks and anything they could at the attendees as we went in. I heard a man speak who later would be our Gauleiter, a man named Josef Grohé. He inspired the crowd, which was only a couple hundred I think. At the end we all gave the Hitler salute. I left with a very positive feeling, as did my father. He gave money to the coffer, the only time I saw him give money away. I was determined to join the men of the SA when I graduated and was done with school. This was in 1932, and I went to another meeting held in Aachen, this time many more people attended and the reds were kept back by the police.

[Above: Gauleiter Josef Grohé (November 6, 1902 – December 27, 1987).]

I went to an officer and asked how I could join the SA. He gave me an address which was close to the theater. I went in and was met by two tall, hard-looking SA guards. They took me to see the officer in charge. He had me do an application, and sat me down grilling me with political questions. He said they had to be very careful as communists had tried to infiltrate the SA, and then acted as agent provocateurs. He told me a story where in Köln one had been admitted and then stole money and fed intelligence to red leaders. I was told I could work, keep up studies, and get paid by the SA with a place to stay if needed. I agreed and signed the papers and I also joined the party [NSDAP, the National Socialist German Workers Party] to become a supporter. I was given a card to carry showing I was a party member. I still remember the day I received my brown uniform, but I did have to pay for it up front which I was not happy about.

Once admitted to the SA as a probationary member I had to attend drilling and marching training. I also had to attend lectures on dealing with our opponents, and this covered street fighting. I was surprised that the SA forbade any fighting at all unless attacked, and then we could defend ourselves. One man was reprimanded because he punched a red while marching and was not provoked. The SA was a very disciplined group and was structured much like the army. We had ranks and marched with precision just like on parade. We held classes for learning to defend in a fight, and also how to be role models for the party. By the time I became fully active in the SA the election was in full swing and Germany was in turmoil. We spent most of our time campaigning for the elections, which happened often with so many shakeups in the government. We had to defend speakers and help hand out pamphlets.

I have a funny story for you in regards to this. The reds often times liked to run up and grab pamphlets and run off. There was this man who was quite fast, he snatched many a pile of our pamphlets and we would see them burned later on. He usually tucked them in his coat and was able to run off. My comrade knew I was fast as well. He put fishing line around the top bundle of pamphlets. The mark took the bait, grabbed the pamphlets and ran off, I ran after him, seeing the line running out as well. When it slacked it jerked him around and knocked him down and I was right on top of him. My comrades were right behind me and we grabbed him, and after roughing him up a bit we took him to the police. We learned he was a Jewish man who was working for the university. He was charged with theft with a political motive and only got a small fine, but since he was identified he stopped stealing our pamphlets.

Can I ask what was it like when Hitler was elected?

Adi: It was probably one of the most memorable times of my life. We had put in long hours campaigning for the party. I was accepted for studies in chemistry and chemical engineering. I later went to work for IG Farben in their rubber development lab, making something called Buna [also known as Nitrile rubber, it is a synthetic rubber derived from acrylonitrile and butadiene. It is used extensively in the automotive and aeronautical industry due to its unusual resistance to oil, fuel and various other chemicals. Among many other uses, it is used to make automotive hoses, seals, grommets, and self-sealing fuel tanks. It is also used to produce all manner of moulded goods, footwear, disposable lab and medical gloves, adhesives, sealants, sponges, expanded foams, and floor mats. It is even used in the nuclear industry to make protective gloves. It was first introduced to the world in 1935].

However in 1932 we worked very hard to get the word out that only Hitler could unite Germany. The old idea of bringing back the King was long gone. The reds wanted a world revolution and they were violent. All over Europe they seemed to be rising up, but so did the opposition to them. They waved banners saying God is a lie; religion is the opium of the masses, and open borders for all nations. In my mind they wanted a mass of slaves with no identity, or racial pride. They do this same tactic today, but much more subtle than before. They learned from their defeat. When the elections took place in '32 Hitler kept getting more and more support. So that by 1933 he was declared the new Chancellor. I remember hearing the election results on the radio, and Hindenburg speaking. It was in January, so quite cold, but we went out and celebrated. The beer halls were packed till the early morning hours.

Not many reds showed their faces, they knew their time was up. Our commander sent out warnings that no revenge would be tolerated on former enemies and that we must now try to unite. This caused anger in our ranks I remember, as we hated the reds, and were now being told we had to unite with them. In the months after the election we were used as police helpers, some reds protested and attacked businesses and people. They were quickly arrested and sent away. There was not a lot that happened in the first year, except for the purge of traitors in the SA.

I have read about the Night of the Long Knives, AC/DC made a song title with it that I like. What do you remember of that time?

Adi: I do not remember much about that time for some reason. I was in school in 1934 and was showing less and less interest in the SA. Our duties had been cut back as victory was won. There were no issues or opponents to march against. Many of the men went in the army or new offices in the party or government that opened up. Germany was still not doing well, jobs were hard to find still but there was hope. Hitler spoke often on the radio to lay out plans for a recovery, and we all waited. 1934 was the year the party cleaned house you could say, Hitler got rid of all the lazy bottom feeders around him. It is said that Röhm, who was the head of the SA, was a homosexual and was angry at Hitler for not letting the SA take over as the regular army. I know that was his dream, he spoke to us about it one time. He said the SA was the new army of Germany and would replace the old Reichswehr.

I was not impressed with Röhm, he was out of shape, and reminded me of a lazy couch potato. I remember when he inspected our troop. I was indifferent when I read that the SA leadership had been purged. Some men were angered, as they felt the rival SS was behind it. We had mandatory meetings in the aftermath, and many left the SA as they felt it was no longer relevant, and many former communists were now coming in. There was a call to forgive and forget and amnesty for former enemies. I left the SA in 1935 as my school was taking up too much time and the SA had turned into a drinking club more than anything. We could wear uniforms for parades or special occasions but that was about it. The SA was formed to protect meetings and defend against the reds, and its time was done. I met many good comrades who went on to bigger and better things. Service in the SA counted for all sorts of credits for party offices or other areas of work. I was able to go to work for IG Farben in 1938, and was put in the office of rubber research. I was able to travel to the Far East, South America, and Africa. I kept this position through the war as I was considered essential since my work was for the war effort.

[Above: Massive IG Farben factory at Auschwitz.]

Did you burn books or vandalize Jewish businesses?

Adi: No and the books you have been reading have it wrong. In every university town in Germany students organized clubs and groups to remove books and literature that was critical of German history and culture. There was one day and night when piles of books, mainly from communist authors who questioned God, attacked Christians and Germany, and were anti-Hitler, were gathered and burned.

You see Hitler brought a wave of patriotism with him, if you did not love the land you were from then you should leave. We SA men guarded the students as they did this, so the reds would not attack them. I saw porn magazines, mainly from Jewish printers and owners, being burned as well. You know the two biggest smut peddlers here are Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner, both are Jews. As far as Jewish businesses, it is true we had to boycott them for one day, it was called a day of action. They had declared boycotts of all German goods around the world, so in turn we identified Jewish businesses and asked Germans to defend themselves and not buy from them. It was one full day of standing outside and protesting with signs, that's all we did, no businesses or people were attacked.

What did you do during the war?

Adi: I said already. I worked for IG Farben and worked in the field of rubber research. We had many places throughout Europe working with us; one was by the camp complex of Birkenau. We had areas where plants were grown to help give synthetic rubber. Rubber was one thing we lacked in great quantity. We traded with Turkey, Spain, and used blockade runners to bring in rubber but it was never enough. We even had to use captured enemy vehicles and shot down planes to help our factories. Our synthetic rubber was essential for the home front and war effort. I was kept busy working on a large staff and thinking up ways to grow plants faster, and to tweak formulas for Buna.

I was able to get married in 1939 to a woman I met in Bolivia. She was the daughter of a German farmer I met in 1938. They had a large farm and grew crops. She came to Germany and decided to stay, so I decided to marry her. Our honeymoon was a trip to Egypt and a cruise on the Nile. During the war we even traveled, believe it or not. We went to Sweden in 1941, Spain and Portugal in 1942 and Greece in 1943. After then it was too hard to get away. In 1943 the bombings got worse and I moved us away from our town. In 1943 Hamburg was firebombed where they targeted civilians, so I wanted to keep my wife safe. She was allowed to travel with me often, but I worried when she was left alone.

Were you part of the defense of Aachen in 1944? I understood you fought in the war defending the city.

[Aachen would later be the scene of a reckoning for a traitor named Franz Oppenhoff, who was appointed mayor by the invading Allies after Aachen was occupied. He wouldn't enjoy his position for long. A Werwolf assassination squad parachuted from a captured B-17 bomber and travelled to the city and shot him on March 25, 1945. The last words the traitor heard were from his killer: "Heil Hitler!"-Ed.]

Adi: No son, that is a misunderstanding then. I was never in the Wehrmacht, and never fought. I was asked to help out in the Volkssturm, as Goebbels called it. I was in Aachen in 1944 and the city was badly damaged, so not much worth defending. The Americans came and surrounded the city before I could escape to my wife, she was further east in Siegen with my family. I was told by the military leaders that I had to help build defenses for the soldiers, so I chipped in and helped. I did not want to be called a shirker, and I saw one man arrested for running away from the front line. Rumors went around that he was shot. My main goal was to help do this, and then get away. I was not a soldier and had no interest in being one. The Americans bombed and shelled the city it seemed every minute. It was hard to sleep; I went to where my mother had worked, the hotel, to seek shelter. It was already being used and I was turned away. I protested to a military officer that I was essential to the war and needed to leave. He told me I could go but the Americans had destroyed all bridges, and were not allowing refugees to get through their lines.

I was determined to get out of the city; I was not going to die there for nothing. The war was lost, everyone knew it and surviving was all I cared about. I left for the east, and carried a white pillow case to show I was not a threat. I could hear fighting when I left so I felt it would be wise to not approach anyone until it died down. What saved me from the city was I saw an American patrol in the distance, I put up my pillow case and they saw it. I started walking to them, and one soldier came towards me. He threw me to the ground and looked around to see if anyone else was around. He got me to my feet and they took me to the lines. I explained I was a civilian only trying to make it to my family. I was searched for weapons and the SS tattoo. One soldier stole a lighter I had, and pointed his rifle at me as if not to say anything. This all happened very fast and I could hear the roar of battle in the city. They all seemed interested in heading that way.

They sent me on my way and I resumed my walk to the east. I was able to see the Volkssturm defenses near the Rhine, and in Köln. I was weary of any military units as I heard they were pulling civilians in to fight, but I never saw this. I was allowed through the city and made my way to Siegen. Even though our offices had been bombed I still had to report for work in makeshift offices. There was not much to do as we had just lost the east and all our fields. I was asked to volunteer for the Volkssturm and sent home in February 1945. I went back to Siegen and stayed until it was all over. So that was my wartime experience.

[Above: The Volkssturm, Berlin.]

Can I ask if you ever saw the camp complex where the factory was located?

Adi: Yes I did and I will only say I have no interest in the stories that some have told about what was going on there. I saw nothing that was concerning to me, there were prisoners everywhere who were used for work. The smell they spoke of was our plant. I remember seeing a letter from the town council asking if something could be done due to the smell burnt rubber makes. Our plant was 3km to the east of the Auschwitz complex, it was called Monowitz. It was a very large complex for the making and blending of Buna among other chemical production. I want you to know also not everyone was prisoners, many Polish people worked for pay.

The few times I was there I would see prisoners arrive in bus loads from the camps. I thought it odd that many were not even guarded. There was a lake by the complex; I would see prisoners out fishing in their striped uniforms. They were not watched at all and sometimes the guards joined them. Other times they had soccer matches and movie nights. I just do not understand all the things they say today, and the movies they made afterward are not truthful. My grandson had to watch a movie in school where they said people were sent there just to be killed, what sense would it make to kill vital people who are helping you? I was told even the older prisoners worked sewing camp uniforms and such. This was in 1943 when I was there, many were sent to the camps like what America did to the Japanese in the west. I can only tell you both that I saw none of that at anytime and only saw healthy hard-working people.

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