Potempa Murder

   Early on 10 August 1932, in the Upper Silesian* village of Potempa (near the Polish border), six members of the SA* forced their way into the home of Konrad Pietzuch. An unemployed Polish farm laborer and Communist sympathizer, Pietzuch was murdered in front of his mother and brother.
   Although the Potempa murder took place against a backdrop of spreading political violence, it became a national sensation. Occurring within hours of Franz von Papen's* issuance of two decrees to combat terrorism, it was followed by a well-publicized trial in Beuthen where five of nine defendants (three were tried as instigators) were condemned to death on 22 August. Packed with Nazis, the courtroom became a scene of bedlam when the sentence was announced. When the Volkischer Beobachter* published a threatening proclamation by Hit-ler,* Papen commuted the sentences (2 September) to life imprisonment on grounds that the killers had been unaware of his harsh antiterrorist decrees when they committed their crime. All were subsequently released by Hitler.
   REFERENCES:Bessel, "Potempa Murder"; Kluke, "Fall Potempa"

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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