Biography Jonny Hagen




Born on 06/12/1902 in Altona,

arrested on 07/11/1935 Steintwiete (formerly Steintwiete 25)

drafted on 02/03/1943 to the battalion 999,

since November 1944 lost in Bosnia


 „Du gab’s mir ein Röschen

Du gab’s mir die Ruh‘

Du herzliebes Mädchen

Wie kamst Du dazu?


Die blutrote Rose

Bedeutet Dein Herz

Das stets mich umkoste

In Freud und in Schmerz“ 


The man who wrote these lines in 1936 while in custody at the internment facility KOLAFU was called Karl Jonny Hagen and he was my grandfather.


My grandfather Karl Jonny Hagen was born on the 12th of July, 1902 as the eighth child of the greengrocer Johann Hinrich Hagen and his wife Metta Hagen, born Dössel, in a small house located at Schmiedestr. 23a in Altona, Hamburg. After completing his education, he worked in the street trade and sold potatoes and vegetables as a merchant trader on the fish market, the hopfen market and other market stalls in Hamburg.In 1926, he became an apprentice bricklayer and started working for the Wartenberg company.  

On the 27th of May, 1922 Karl Jonny Hagen married Martha Emma Kallohn (born 6/26/1905), the daughter of Paul August Kallohn and Rose Kallohn, born Wolff. My grandmother was born at Siemensstrasse 16 (now Planckstrasse) in Altona. Her mother Rose Kallohn, born Wolff was of Jewish descent.As a Jew, she was forced in February 1940 to adopt the name "Sara" which she abandoned right after World War II again. Her husband who was purely "aryan" was put under constant pressure to separate from his wife. For my great-grandmother, as a Jew, this would have been a sure way to get deported to Theresienstadt. My grandmother Martha Hagen used to live in Altona and gave birth to two daughters Thea (born 10/28/1922) and Elfriede, my mother (born 6/24/1929)


In 1922, Karl Jonny Hagen joined the relief organization Rote Hilfe "Red Help" which supported during the times of the Weimar Republic a nonpartisan way to aid political prisoners from the labor movement and their relatives.In 1924, he left the KPD close organization (Communist Party of Germany). In 1929, he joined the KPD in a leading position within the party. In 1931, during his third year in unemployment, he became the manager of the local branch in Altona.The political activities, usually with 10-20 members, alternately took place in the members' flats. After the meeting, the members only left in pairs as the SS had already begun to patrol the streets. Martha Hagen and the other women stood together "to keep cave”.At that time (1934), he lived in the Kleinen Carlstr. 15 III (now Zeißtwiete) in Altona and moved in 1934 with his family to  Steintwiete 25 I.  His parents moved into a flat at Deichstrasse 32 II in the same year and inhabited this up to their death (1950).In the morning of the 11th of July, 1935 Karl Jonny Hagen was arrested by the GESTAPO in the flat of his family at Steintwiete 25. The neighbors who used to live in the flat above my family, had gone to the GESTAPO to inform them of the regular meetings taking place there.  At the time of his arrest, his two children, 6 and 13 years old, were present. The flat was completely laid to waste during the arrest. Beds slit, dishes thrown around. The whole event turned for his 6-year-old daughter Elfriedeinto a returning nightmare which did not let loose of her until her death. Karl Jonny Hagen was brought to Holstenglacis and remained there until he was transferred to the Emslandlager at KOLAFU.


At KOLAFU he was subjected to heavy maltreatments such as kicks, he was beaten with a leather strap and for several weeks he lay day and night in iron chains tied up on the floor. The accommodation at the investigative prison was billed with 500 RM to his family members. His wife Martha Hagen visited him there and brought him a CARE package with food. Visits by his family members were permitted only once every 3 months and only for 10 minutes. Between Karl Jonny Hagen and his wife sat a SS man.  Because everything had to happen secretly, she had hollowed out a tomato in which she smuggled a rose. As a result, he wrote her the poem shown above.  His family packed him every 10 days a package and sent it to the prison. They also had to wash his laundry and return it to him. The money which his family sent was never received.The questionings took place at the infamous "Stadthaus" at the town house bridge. On the 5th of May, 1936 the judges Ewald, Dietrich, Hansen, Horstkotte and Prosiegel of the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court sentenced Karl Jonny Hagen – because of him conspiring to high treason – to a 5 years prison sentence. Together with his friends and companions Hermann Jünemann (born 10/5/1902 in Bilshausen / District of Duderstadt), 5 years  prison, Börgermoor and Esterwegen, BB 999 and in English captivity, died on 5/14/1986 in Hamburg), Otto Schmahl (born 6/17/1905 in Tarnowitz / District of Grevesmühlen, 4 years in  prison in Esterwegen, continued to live after completing his sentence in Hamburg) and Josef Wieczorek (born  10/1/1894 in Kuznia Poland, 5 1/2 years prison in Vechta, died on 3/4/1977 in Hamburg) he was sentenced.They were accused to have helped in the "unlawful" reconstruction of the the building industry union. His activities consisted of organizing regular meetings of the union, collect  contributions and the distribution of the newspapers "Der Bauprolet" and „Der Klassengewerkschaftler“.  The association had the character of a trade union.The defendants had to bear the costs of the trial themselves. Their civil rights were revoked which was marked by an "e" on their personal identity cards. Karl Jonny Hagen served his prison sentence in a "penal prison camp" Börgermoor and Brual-Rhede up until the 14th of July, 1940. Together with Hermann Jünemann, he did the infamous heavy moor works. At night, they slept on wet straw bags. Börgermoor has become famous due to the song of the moor soldiers. My grandfather liked to sing the song. In his documents, it was stated that he had a nice voice. He liked to play the harmonium and the mouth organ.


He returned to Hamburg on July 14th, 1940. His wife Martha Hagen had separated herself from him in 1939. She lived as "a half Jew" and as the wife of a convicted political prisoner in constant fear to be deported by the National Socialists to one of the concentration camps. She was constantly thrown out of her flat, as soon as it became known that she was of Jewish origin. She had to move during the war approximately 15 times. She entered a relationship with Walter Sierau (born 9/17/1901) and expected from him her 3rd child Karl-Heinz (born 2/25/1939). The marriage was declared invalid by the National Socialists in order not to endanger the „purity of the race“. Walter Sierau was drafted in 1943 to the military in Eastern Prussia (Königsberg) and probably went from there into Russian captivity. It is not known where he lies buried. She had the marriage recognized after the war.


My great-grandmother was summoned by the Gestapo to the "Stadthaus" at the town house bridge. She feared to be deported to Theresienstadt in 1943. When her daughter Martha Hagen volunteered and went instead, she returned traumatized. She must have experienced something horrible there as her daughter reported.The name of my great-grandmother Rose Kallohn was put down on the deportation list for Theresienstadt in 1945. My family was hiding my great-grandmother during the last months. I suppose that she was hiding with the mother of Walter Sierau at the Bornkampsweg. Only because of that she was able to survive National Socialism.


I further suppose that Karl Jonny Hagen continued his activities for the resistance after his return from the Emslandlager. Unfortunately, I cannot prove this. But his close friend Josef Wieczorek was arrested once more on the 10/2/1941 and served a renewed prison sentence at the KOLAFU.


On the 23rd of January, 1943 Karl Jonny Hagen, who was up until then exempt from military service, got drafted after heavy losses on the Eastern Front - together with other politically persecuted - to serve in the "Battalion 999". They were given a "blue" conscription card and deemed just fit enough for military service.The arrangement of the trains occurred in the training area Heuberg in the Swabian Alb. With the 3rd department, he was sent to Greece fighting partisans. In Greece and also in other countries where the politically persecuted prisoners were fighting, they were further active in the resistance with the "AKFD" and „The association of German Antifaschist".  In Greece, the members of the resistance got in touch with the ELAS (Greek communists) and informed the population beforehand of the planned attacks. Thus the population of Greece could often prepare themselves ahead of the impending attack and flee. The members of the resistance tried to sabotage the war production by defusing ammunition. If this betrayal had become known, the members of the resistance would have been executed by the National Socialists.Karl Jonny Hagen wrote the last letter to his children Thea and Elfriede on the 3rd of September, 1944. His battalion leftGreece on the 21st of September, 1944 and was used in Bosnia in the fight against partisans.In November, 1944 Karl Jonny Hagen was delivered to a military hospital in Bosnia. He has been missing ever since. His mortal remains were never found. There is no grave for my grandfather Karl Jonny Hagen up until this day.


Rose my great-grandmother survived National Socialism because my family helped hiding her. She was categorized as persecuted according to the Nuremberg laws. She submitted applications for compensation to the German courts. For it she had to resign herself to unworthy medical examinations. Because she was strongly traumatized and suffered fromanxiety, it complicated the doctor visits further. From the perspective of the doctor, nobody could understand that she was afraid. No compensation was handed out or just very little.


I grew up with my mother Elfriede and grandmother Martha.

She has not left her flat for 30 years. She was traumatized by her experiences. At that time, there was still no trauma therapy.How one should cope with those experiences. Up until today, it is beyond my comprehension.



rbel Klein