Apel, Erich

BORN 3 Oct 1917, Judenbach, Thüringen - DIED 3 Dec 1965, Berlin
CAUSE OF DEATH suicide by gunshot
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Städtischer Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Gudrunstrasse, Lichtenberg (Gedankstätte der Sozialisten)

Erich Apel came from Judenbach in the Franconian Forest. His father was a mechanical engineer. In 1935 he joined the Deutsches Jungfolk, a youth organisation of the nazis, but he was dispelled because of a 'negative attitude' towards exercises that were military oriented. From 1937 to 1939 he studied at the Engineering Academy in Ilmenau. In 1939 he joined the army and he was stationed at the research facility in Peenemünde that was led by Wernher von Braun. Apel, who was not political, worked on a hydraulic system for rockets and in 1940 he was appointed assistent to the facility director. On his 25th birhday he witnessed the first launch ever of a long-distance rocket. In 1943 the allies bombed the facility at Peenemünde and his boss Walter Thiel (1910-1943) and his family were killed. Apel worked on the V-2 rocket for a company named Peterbau GmbH.

After the nazis lost power he resufed to accompany Wernher von Braun to the USA and he returned to his native Judenbach. The Soviets ordered him to work in the Soviet-Union. He became the head of a testing department. In 1953 he returned to the DDR and in 1957 he became a member of the Communist Party and in 1960 he became a member of the Central Committee. Early in 1965 he travelled to the USSR with Walter Ulbricht to discuss the terms of a new economic agreement. Later that year he was found dead behind his desk. Willy Brandt supposed that he killed himself because he didn't agree with the exploitation of the DDR by the USSR.

Related persons
• cooperated with Ulbricht, Walter


The grave of Erich Apel at the Städtischer Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (07 Aug 2019)


• Hoffmann, Joachim, Berlin Friedrichsfelde, Ein Deutscher Nationalfriedhof, Das Neue Berlin, Berlin, 2001
Erich Apel - Wikipedia

Apitz, Bruno

Published: 01 Aug 2021
Last update: 01 Aug 2021