Political fresh start in Germany after the war was a big disappointment for Alfred Haag. At the end of his life he asks himself: Have I suffered in vain in resistance against the Nazis ?
As a representative of the Communist Party he becomes an early victim of the Nazis. In 1932 he is elected as a city councilor in his home town Schwäbisch Gmünd. Soon afterwards he becomes the youngest member of the state parliament in Stuttgart. Immediately after Hitler's seizure of power he is arrested on 10 February 1933 by the SA. They transfer him to the prison and afterwards to concentration camp Oberer Kuhberg (Upper Cowhill) near Ulm. There he meets Kurt Schumacher (a leader of the Social Democratic Party) with whom he shares detention in a clink.
In summer 1935 the concentration camp Oberer Kuhberg is shut down, most of the prisoners are released, but Haag, Schumacher, and some others are transferred to Dachau. Even in the concentration camp's penal department Haag stays upright and uncompromizing. When an SS guard once orders him to bump a subordinate prisoner off, he refuses and insists: »You can't order me something like this !« To him it stays a topmost requirement to keep solidarity with weaker ones. As the reponsible prisoner for a hut of the penal department he is secretely collecting bread for his fellow prisoners. When this initiative is detected by the guards, he loses his position and is severely punished. In 1939 Haag is moved from Dachau to the Mauthausen concentration camp, which the prisoners fear even more.
Lina Haag, herself arrested until 1939, then starts fighting for the liberation of her husband. She even manages to meet Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, and finally is successful: Impressed by her courage Himmler finally orders Alfred Haag to be released. On 1 February 1944 she is allowed to pick him up in Berlin at the Gestapo (secret police of the State). But it's only a temporary reunion of the Haag family. Despite the fact that former concentration camp prisoners normally lacked the »dignity to fight«, Alfred has to report for duty and is sent to the Russian front line. He knows very well that »this is a war without mercy right to the bitter end«, as Lina Haag later writes in her book »Eine Handvoll Staub« (A handful of dust). Haag becomes a POW in Russia. For many years his wife remainss uncertain of his fate. Only in spring 1948 she receives his first sign of life. Half a year later the family is united again.
After the war victims of the Nazi period have to fight hard for a compensation. The Federal Republic of Germany tries only to offer a flat rate arrangement. At first they deny pension claims of former prisoners. The Haag family only gets 150 Marks »compensation« for every month of Alfred's imprisonment. That's all to set them up in life again in Munich. Together with their daughter and son-in-law they build a small house and have to sustain rigorous austerity to settle their debts. It becomes very obvious to Alfred Haag that many of the former prisoners are not able to be a match for the compensation bureaucracy. He makes himself their advocate and starts to fight for his comerades or their survivors like he faught for their rights in the past. Political development of the Federal Republic of Germany is a big disappointment to him, as it seems more and more to ignore resistance during the Nazi period. Therefore he devotes all his energy to the »Union of the Victims of Nazi Persecution« (VVN). For many years he is their president in Bavaria.
Alfred Haag tries all he can to keep alive the remembrance of Dachau concentration camp as a place of political resistance and suffering. He remains a leading representative of the German Union of former Dachau Prisoners until he dies. On behalf of the International Dachau Committee in Brussels he organizes every year the celebration of liberation at the memorial site. When he is a guide for visitors to the former camp, this is still a hard tour for him despite the many years that have passed. Horrible recollections still haunt him in his dreams. His wife reports: »At night he often rouse from a bad dream and groaned«. He keeps his militant attitude against any right wing political threat until he dies. His impression remains that a real attempt to come to terms with the Nazi period has not been appreciated in Germany. He stays disappointed that his dreams of a socialist society haven't come true.
Documentation: Karin Korte