Pächter relative sentenced to four months in prison for printing a Communist newspaper in 1929

Pächter relative sentenced to four months in prison for printing a Communist newspaper in 1929

One of our Berlin relatives left a story to tell when he unwittingly got caught up in the events of May 1929, when police fought with Communists on city streets. 

Or was it unwitting? The German high court in Leipzig didn't buy his account and sentenced him to pay a fine and serve four months in prison. 

Emil Pächter ran a book printing business in Berlin's bustling graphic arts district. He may have been brought into the business by his wife's father, for it carried the wife's family name—Streisand, like the singer. 

Emil was a cousin of Isaac Wohlgemuth, one of the Pächter offspring from Tiegenhof, most of whom migrated to Berlin. I haven't learned much about his printing business except what is reported in the two articles here that somebody helpfully uploaded to Ancestry. 

Emil was not politically active but he took print jobs from political groups including the German Communist party, the KDP. He had no connection to the party's flagship newspaper, Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag), printed continuously since 1919. 

When Berlin police cracked down on the KDP after violence erupted on May 1, 1929, a publication ban was imposed on the party newspaper. In the aftermath of the street fighting that raged for three days, Die Rote Fahne could not publish. 

But some of the editors found a way around it. They put together a strike edition of the paper under a slightly different name, and used a non-political print shop to run off 16,000 copies to get out to activists and supporters. Thus was born Die Rote Sturmfahne (The Red Storm Flag).

Three issues were printed and distributed. The fourth issue was confiscated on the press when police stormed the Streisand company and arrested Emil Pächter and his employee, typesetter Emil Schuster. As the KDP newspaper had been banned under the Republic Protection Act, the crimes were violating that act and "preparing to commit high treason by supporting a subversive association."

In his four-day trial, Paechter testified that he performed a print job for the KDP but that he was unaware that it was meant to be a replacement for the annex party newspaper. 

He was convicted on the first charge and sentenced to four months in prison. The typesetter Schuster got a one-year sentence because he was also found guilty on the second charge, since he was a KDP party member while Paechter was not.