The Policeman Murders is an event on the then-called Bülowplatz that occurred on August 9, 1931, during which two policemen were shot.
On August 9, a referendum took place in Prussia on the premature dissolution of the state parliament. The KPD also supported this demand and had planned various events for the evening at which the result of the referendum was to be announced. One of these chosen venues was the Platz where the KPD wanted to publish the result in a slide projection in front of the Karl-Liebknecht-Haus. But a few days earlier, on August 6, 1931, the Berlin police chief declared that all open-air events were forbidden on August 9. Nevertheless, on August 9th, numerous workers came together on Bülowplatz to find out the result of the vote. According to eyewitness accounts, the police used force against those present to break up the gathering. According to various sources, one man was killed and another injured. The day before, during a violent evacuation operation, the KPD-affiliated worker Fritz Auge had been shot near the Karl-Liebknecht-Haus. The Communist Party's “party self-protection”, a paramilitary group of the party, decided to kill Paul Anlauf, the head of the police station 7, in return. (According to Ronald Friedmann, however, a motive for the act could also have been to divert attention from the bad result of the referendum with the sensational murder.) Erich Mielke and Erich Ziemer, both members of the KPD and the party self-protection, volunteered to do this. It is still unclear whether a third man was involved in the act.
On the evening of August 9, 1931, at around 7 pm, they met Paul Anlauf, or Pig face as they called him, on Weydingerstraße, where the police captain was traveling with his two colleagues Franz Lenck (a.k.a. Skull) and Richard Willig. They followed the three policemen and eventually opened fire. Paul Anlauf died immediately, Franz Lenck was able to drag himself into the Babylon, but there he succumbed to his injuries. The police sergeant major Richard Willig survived seriously injured. The two perpetrators fled in the direction of Volksbühne and threw their weapons over a fence, where they were later found by the police. In the riot that followed, the two perpetrators were able to go into hiding, but were soon officially wanted by the police. It is said that Erich Mielke bragged about the murder that same evening in a pub visited by KPD members.
The site was forcibly evacuated by police, killing two again and injuring several. The Karl-Liebknecht-Haus was also shot at. The same evening the house was cordoned off by the police and stormed by the police the next morning. The KPD newspaper, the “Rote Fahne”, whose editorial offices are in the Karl-Liebknecht-Haus, was confiscated and banned for the coming weeks.
Escape and condemnation
With the support of the KPD, the two perpetrators managed to flee to the Soviet Union the next day, thus avoiding arrest. The National Socialist judiciary had initiated criminal proceedings against the two. However, this was discontinued because the two Erichs absence.
After the National Socialists seized power, the proceedings were reopened in 1933. Several members of the KPD were indicted, some of them interrogated with mistreatment by the SA, and finally three of them were sentenced to death for the murder of the two policemen. One of the three sentences was later commuted to life imprisonment. When the Platz was redesigned, the Nazis erected a memorial for the two murdered police officers.
Erich Ziemer died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, but Erich Mielke eventually returned to Germany in 1944. The Berlin public prosecutor's office issued an arrest warrant again, but the files relating to the murder of the two police officers were confiscated by the Soviet occupying forces. Another suspect could not be proven to be involved in the crime.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new trial was opened in November 1991 against Mielke for the murders of the police sixty years earlier. The charges were based on that of the public prosecutor's office in 1934. On October 26, 1993, he was sentenced to six years in prison, but in 1995 the then 88-year-old Mielke was released on parole.