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Erwin Planck

Birthdate: (51)
Death: January 23, 1945 (51)
Plötzensee Prison in Berlin, Germany (executed)
Immediate Family:

Son of Max K. E. L. Planck, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1918 and Marie Planck (Merck)
Husband of Cornelia Ida Planck
Brother of Karl Planck; Emma Fehling and Grete Fehnling
Half brother of Hermann Heinrich Wilhelm Planck

Managed by: Malka Mysels
Last Updated:

About Erwin Planck

Erwin Planck (12 March 1893 – 23 January 1945) was a German politician, and a resistance fighter in the Third Reich.

Born in Berlin, Erwin Planck was theoretical physicist Max Planck's and his first wife's fourth child. After his Abitur in 1911, Planck went into the military and pursued a career as an officer. In the First World War, Erwin rather quickly found himself a prisoner of the French in 1914. After he came back to Germany after the war ended, he was active on the General Staff, where he met Major Kurt von Schleicher for the first time. They would become lifelong friends.

Schleicher, who headed the political branch, called Planck into the Reich Defence Ministry in 1920 and sent him as a liaison man to the Reich Chancellery, where he also became a government advisor after he left the Reichswehr in 1926.

In 1932, he became Secretary of State under Franz von Papen, and later also Schleicher in the Reich Chancellor's Office.

After Hitler seized power in 1933, Planck left government work and went to East Asia for a year. Shortly after he came back to Germany, Schleicher was shot by the Gestapo. Planck tried in vain to get an explanation for his friend's murder.

In 1936, Planck changed career paths and went into business, becoming a leading employee at the Otto-Wolff-Konzern, a large conglomerate, in Cologne. In 1939, he took over leadership of the Berlin branch office.

In August 1939, a group including Prussian Finance Minister Johannes Popitz, Planck, and Reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht approached General Georg Thomas, head of the Defence Economy and Armament Office asking him to do something to thwart the outbreak of the forthcoming war. He agreed to write a memorandum to his superior, Wilhelm Keitel, head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht in which he stated that a war against Poland would set off a world war that Germany could not win owing to massive supply (logistics) problems. However, Keitel tried to allay Thomas's fears by telling him that the Führer was planning no such war. Such a war, of course, began the very next month.

In 1940, Planck, Popitz, Ulrich von Hassell and Ludwig Beck drafted a "Provisional Constitution" on the assumption that the West's forthcoming attack would overthrow Hitler. Even afterwards, Planck vainly stayed in the resistance against the régime and was involved in the July 20 plot. This led to his arrest on 23 July 1944, whereafter he was taken to the Gestapo's Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA). Planck was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof and executed at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

Memorial plaque

A memorial plaque to Erwin Planck and two others can be found at his old school, the Joachimsthalsches Gymnasium in the Berlin borough of Wilmersdorf, Bundesallee 1-12.

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Erwin Planck's Timeline

March 12, 1893
January 23, 1945
Age 51
Plötzensee Prison in Berlin, Germany