Channel Islander imprisoned in Amberg Prison:
James Thomas William Quick
By Roderick Miller
The records of the International Tracing Service indicate that Channel Islander James Quick was incarcerated in Regensburg Prison in the city of Regensburg in Bavaria, but give no date. In view of the geographical progression of Quick’s places of imprisonment, it is most likely that he had a brief stopover in Regensburg Prison soon after he left Bernau Prison on 4 September 1943 on his way to Amberg Prison. Quick made no mention of Regensburg Prison in his 1965 application for compensation for Nazi persecution, another likely indication that his stay there was quite short.
Regensburg Prison (Landgerichtsgefängnis Regensburg, Justizvollgzugsanstalt Regensburg) was built between 1900 and 1902 after the designs of architect Friedrich Niedermayer. The current Bavarian governmental website for the prison characterizes it as having been a ‘comfortable, modern, functional building’, originally designed for 253 remand and long-term prisoners in 172 cells.
Like most prisons in Nazi Germany, Regensburg Prison was used to incarcerate political prisoners and those persecuted for reasons of race and religion. During the Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews in November 1938, 244 Jewish people were temporarily incarcerated in Regensburg Prison. Hans Schlesinger, a Jewish man from Mannheim, was incarcerated in Regensburg for a month in October 1936. He was murdered in the Hadamar Killing Centre in 1941 as part of the Nazi euthanasia program. Gertud Dawartz, a Jewish woman from Hamburg, was incarcerated in Regensburg Prison from September 1943 until April 1944. She was murdered in August 1944 in Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
There were 20 major allied bombing attacks on Regensburg from 1943 to 1945, the main targets being a Messerschmitt aeroplane works, the harbour, bridges over the Donau River, and the train yards. Around 3000 Regensburg residents died in the attacks, among them foreign forced labourers and allied prisoners of war. 82% of the cities residences remained undamaged by war’s end, with 9% completely destroyed.
The dean of the Regensburg cathedral, Johann Maier, gave a public speech on 23 April 1945, asking that the city surrender with no resistance for the sake of the women and children. He and two other men were publicly hanged the next day for ‘sabotage’. Most of the bridges over the Donau were destroyed by the Nazis in a vain attempt to slow the allied advances. The 12th century stone bridge had four of its supports destroyed, but remained otherwise intact.
Regensburg capitulated without further resistance to the US 3rd Army on 27 April 1945. By June of that year, around 2200 Italian forced labourers were in allied care and returned by July to their homeland.
Regensburg Prison continues to operate into the present day. There is no memorial at the site for those imprisoned and maltreated there during the Nazi era. This is not terribly surprising, considering there is (as of February 2019) no central research facility about the Nazi era in the city, a situation that was critically appraised in 2018 with a recommendation to create a museum and research facility.
In 2001 a Turkish asylum seeker named Kazim Gülbag hung a banner outside Regensburg Prison with the words ‘I am protesting against the fascist Turkish state and the massacre in its prisons’. He then doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire, with fatal results. His wife, conducting a protest fast in an isolation cell in Istanbul, died there several weeks later.
The street on which the prison is located was renamed in 2015 in honour of the architect who designed the prison, Friedrich Niedermayer. He died in 1942, and his beliefs concerning the Nazis are not known, but his son Oskar was a spy for the German military, a Nazi Party member, and during the war commanded a division of foreign-born soldiers for the Wehrmacht in Ukraine. Oskar von Niedermayer was captured by the Soviets and sentenced to 25 years’ prison for espionage in 1945, but died of tuberculosis several years later. The role of Friedrich Niedermayer’s son as an active Nazi supporter and participant in the war in Eastern Europe was apparently not an issue in the decision to re-name the street in 2015.
James Quick went on to survive eight months in Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Like many of those imprisoned by the Nazis, he may have suffered from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of his life.
German Federal Archives: Memorial Book Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945. Link
International Tracing Service Arolsen: Catalogue of Camps and Prisons in Germany and German-occupied Territories, Bad Arolsen, 1949-1951, p. 213.
The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO 950/3595 (James Quick)
Wiener Library, London: International Tracing Service Archives
Reference numbers 33227806, 33227817 (James Quick)
Wittmer, Siegfried: Geschichte der Regensburger Juden von 1936 bis 1938, Heimatforschung Regensburg, 1988, p. 178 (in German). Reference to post-war trials and Regensburg Prison record books from November 1938 in the Landshut State Archives. Link