August Landmesser, like many Germans, joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party because of Adolf Hitler’s promise to undo the wrongs perpetrated against the German people in the Treaty of Versailles. However, by 1936, he was concerned with the Nazis demonizing anyone who disagreed with Hitler – he was married to a Jewish girl. However, the population of the country at this point was disarmed, and criticizing the Nazis meant a one way trip to the Dachau concentration camp. Many of his friends agreed with him privately, but were cowed into blindly following Hitler.
On 13 June 1936, August Landmesser attended the launching of the new Kriegsmarine training ship, the Horst Wessel. Surprisingly, Adolf Hitler himself dedicated the ship. When Hitler stepped up to smash the champagne bottle on the bow, the crowd cheered wildly and saluted.
Landmesser couldn’t bring himself to salute a man who demonized his wife and daughter.
August Landmesser was caught in 1937 trying flee to Denmark with his family. They were imprisoned for “dishonoring their race”, and were never seen again.