This image has been floating around a lot on the Internet, but up to now we have seen no info telling of the man and his story.
August Landmesser (1910 – presumably killed February 1944) was a worker at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. He appeared in a photograph refusing to perform the Nazi salute at the launch of the naval training vessel Horst Wessel on 13 June 1936.
He had been a Nazi Party member from 1931 to 1935, but after fathering children with a Jewish woman, he had been found guilty of “dishonoring the race” under Nazi racial laws and had come to oppose Hitler’s regime. In February 1944 he was drafted into a penal unit, the 999th Fort Infantry Battalion, where he was declared missing in action and presumably killed.
We have often been in situations where people were pressured to do this or that kind of symbolic act, and sometimes we have felt that pressure ourselves. The excuse is always, “It’s just small thing. It won’t hurt anything if you do it. So, why are you being a troublemaker? Why can’t you get along?” Yet, if it really is a small thing, then why the draconian punishment for non-compliance? In truth, something such as a Nazi salute is not a small thing at all: It is your personal seal of approval on what others stand for and practice. And, if you show approval for something that is evil, in the end you share the same eternal punishment as those who practice that evil.
It is better to resist such things and lose your life, than to go along and lose your soul.