Dorothea Dressel collection

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 1995.A.0186
1 Jan 1930 - 31 Dec 1986, 1 Jan 1930 - 31 Dec 1947
Level of Description
  • German
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium


oversize folder




Biographical History

Dorothea (Dora) Dressel (1897-1993) married Fritz Dressel in 1916, and was active politically in Munich during the years following World War I. When her husband, a leading member of the Communist Party in Bavaria, protested the violence of the SA in Munich, she was arrested and held as hostage in the weeks prior to her husband’s arrest, being detained in the Stadelheim prison in Munich. She was ultimately released and survived the war, living until the age of 96.

Fritz Dressel (1896-1933) was born in Welsberg/Oberfranken, and after his schooling, apprenticed as a carpenter. During his service as a soldier in World War I, he was severely wounded, and returned to Munich. Following the war, he became a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and was active politically, serving as a district leader for the party in southern Bavaria, and eventually serving as chair of the KPD delegation in the state parliament (Bayerischer Landtag) from 1928 until the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933. As the Nazis began targeting political opponents in the months following their rise to power, Dressel was arrested in May 1933 and imprisoned at Dachau, where he was tortured. On 7 May 1933 he succumbed to his wounds, although his death certificate listed the cause of death as suicide, this finding was disputed by his widow. One of his fellow prisoners and KPD leaders, Hans Beimler, subsequently escaped from Dachau and reported on what had happened to Dressel, in one of the first published accounts of the treatment of prisoners in Dachau. Source: Weber, Hermann and Herbst, Andreas (editors). Deutsche Kommunisten. Biographisches Handbuch (Berlin: Karl Dietz Verlag, 2008). As found on the web site for the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED Diktatur (, accessed July 2015.

Archival History

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


The Dorothea Dressel collection was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1994 by her granddaughter, Friederike Holbrook.

Scope and Content

The Dorothea Dressel collection contains documents primarily concerning Dorothea Dressel’s husband, Friedrich Dressel, who was a member of the Communist party and was killed in Dachau in 1933. Records include correspondence concerning Friedrich’s death, and post-war correspondence, including a letter from the writer Oskar Maria Graf. Other items include a death and marriage certificate, photographs, and newspaper clippings. The Dorothea Dressel collection contains material primarily related to her husband’s death in 1933. The correspondence contains a letter from Fritz’s parents, asking Dorothea if the newspaper reporting his death was true. Another two letters concern Fritz’s gravesite, while other letters are of support from the United States, and a response from Dorothea thanking them for care packages. Also included is a letter from exiled German writer Oskar Maria Graf, who had known the Dressels prior to his emigration from Germany. Other items include a marriage and death certificate, and photographs of Munich, including a street that was named after Fritz Dressel, as well as photographs of his family and his grave site. The news clippings contains several various articles, as well as a newspaper account reporting Fritz’s death as a suicide. Also included is a receipt for the cash that was found on his body at his death.

System of Arrangement

The Dorothea Dressel collection is arranged as a single series.


Corporate Bodies



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.