Aktion Rheinland | English version >>
April 16, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of ‚Aktion Rheinland‘. On this day the courageous act of a Düsseldorf resistance group saved the city from complete destruction, which had been intended for it by the Nazi regime in the last days of the war. Without these men, five of whom did not survive, Düsseldorf would have been completely destroyed by bombs and many people would have lost their lives. In the minds of many Düsseldorfers and unfortunately especially among the younger ones this part of the city’s history is less and less present.
A brief historical background:
In April 1945 Düsseldorf was already surrounded by Allied troops. Gauleiter Karl Florian had given the order to blow up all of Düsseldorf ’s utilities and rail- and road bridges. True to Hitler’s Nero command the Allies were supposed to find nothing but scorched earth. In this situation a resistance group consisting of Düsseldorf citizens decided to turn to the commander of the security police, Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Jürgens, who had been recommended to them as trustworthy. With his help they wanted to save Düsseldorf from being bombed to the ground.
They succeded in convincing Jürgens to issue a pass for two of them, in order to get through to the Allies and to negotiate the surrender of the city without a fight. Meanwhile, the remaining resistance fighters held the chief of police SS-Brigadeführer August Korreng at gunpoint and detained him in a prison cell. But the ‚Aktion Rheinland‘ was betrayed by policemen loyal to the regime. Jürgens and his colleagues, Theodor Andresen, Karl Kleppe, Josef Herrmann Knab and Weill were arrested. On the evening of April 16, 1945 they were court-martialed and sentenced to death, then tortured and finally shot.
Despite this the bloodless surrender of the city succeeded. The next day US tanks moved into the city without a single shot being fired.
Out of deep gratitude and with the awareness that never to forget is the first step in the fight against The Far Right, the idea to create a music project to interest young people in this important part of Düsseldorf’s history was born. Co-founders are the journalist Jeanne Andresen, granddaughter of assassinated resistance leader Theodor Andresen, associated professor for music and composer Georg Grisloff, the musician Andy Wahl and Roman Thiel, Managing Director of the Online Marketing agency ‚morgenstund‘ and proprietor of the ‚Drumming Monkey Records‘ music label.
We are planning the production of a CD sampler entitled ‚Aktion Rheinland‘ with about 20 songs from Düsseldorf bands on April 16, 2015. We would be delighted if you could also contribute to this sampler with a song on the topic of ‚Aktion Rheinland – resistance yesterday, today, tomorrow‘. The sampler is accompanied by a booklet in which the ‚Aktion Rheinland‘ is explained in detail.
This booklet will be designed in cooperation with the ‚Mahn – und Gedenkstätte Düsseldorf‘ (Memorial Düsseldorf) and the ‚Verein Geschichte am Jürgensplatz e.V.‘ (History Club Jürgensplatz, registered association).
The completed CD will then be distributed free-of-charge to schools in Düsseldorf. We are planning to produce 14,000 units. The distribution to students will be left to school management, which can possibly link it to a project week on the topic or the like.
This CD is a non-profit project, all participants are volunteers and funding will be solely through sponsorship.
In addition, we are planning a concert on the evening of April 17, 2015.
The Düsseldorf police chief, Norbert Wesseler, the Lord Mayor Thomas Geisel, the Chairman of the ‚Verein Geschichte am Jürgensplatz‘, Klaus Dönecke and the Managing Director of the ‚Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Düsseldorf‘, Dr. Bastian Fleermann have already guaranteed their support. The municipal culture office of Düsseldorf has pledged financial support.