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Erich Mühsam was born in Berlin on April 6, 1878. While his brother Hans became a physician and his sister Charlotte married Leo Landau, a lawyer, Erich chose a different path and became an anarchist author, poet, and publisher. He was imprisoned from 1917-1918 for refusing military service, and from 1919-1924 for his role in the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic. Muehsam published many anarchist books, plays, and periodicals. He was also successful as a writer and performer in cabarets. An early critic of the Nazi regime, in 1934 he was arrested and sent to the Oranienburg concentration camp, where he was murdered on July 10, 1934.
Oranienburg concentration camp was one of the first detention camps established by the Nazis in 1933. Most of the prisoners were political opponents from Berlin, as well as homosexual men and other "undesirables." The prison was taken over by the SS in 1934. Soon after, it was closed and replaced by the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1936.
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Unknown Artist: Pocket knife confiscated from Erich Mühsam at Oranienburg Concentration Camp, Leo Baeck Institute Art and Objects Collection, 2012.064.
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