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Joseph Zott

Geroltstr. 24

Date of death:
Place of death:
Victim group:
Politisch Verfolgte – Bürgerliche Kreise
Erinnerungszeichen (Tafel)

Joseph (also Josef) Zott was born on March 16, 1901 in Munich and grew up in a Catholic working-class family. The trained carpenter was employed by the Munich municipal authority from 1925. He married Bettina Kohrherr in 1927. The couple lived at Geroltstraße 24 in Munich-Westend. Joseph Zott joined the Bayerische Volkspartei (BVP, Bavarian People’s Party) in 1932 and its defense organization, the Bayernwacht (Bavaria Watch).
The BVP was banned on July 4, 1933, just a few months after the Nazi seizure of power. Joseph Zott remained in contact with other sympathizers and joined the Harnier-Kreis (Harnier Circle), a Catholic monarchist resistance group led by Adolf von Harnier. The members of the Harnier-Kreis met for discussions frequently in Joseph Zott’s apartment in Geroltstraße. They wrote a series of information pieces passed around within the group and signed them “the blacksmith from Kochel” after a legendary Bavarian folk hero. Joseph Zott believed that the future Bavarian monarchy should be part of a confederation of states united by the Christian faith; workers were to be given extensive participation rights. Spys informed the Gestapo (Secret Police) about the activities of the Harnier-Kreis. The leading members were arrested shortly before the start of the Second World War. Joseph Zott was taken to the police prison in Ettstraße on August 4, 1939 and then on the same day to the Wittelsbacher Palais, the Gestapo headquarters, where he was tortured and interrogated. Between 1940 and 1944 Joseph Zott was imprisoned in the Neudeck, Stadelheim, and Cornelius prison. Although the chief prosecutor for the Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court) had already completed investigations in summer 1940, he and the other eight accused first received their indictments in April 1944. On October 26, 1944 the Volksgerichtshof in Berlin found Joseph Zott guilty of planning acts of high treason and sentenced him to death and the deprivation of his civil rights “forever.” Joseph Zott was transferred to Brandenburg-Görden prison. All the pleas for clemency entered by his wife Bettina were unsuccessful. On January 15, 1945 Joseph Zott was executed by guillotine.(text Friedbert Mühldorfer, editor C. Fritsche, translation P. Bowman)