It’s a an now-iconic photo of civil disobedience: A German man standing at a rally in 1936 Hamburg refuses to give the Nazi salute.
The photo lay unnoticed for nearly 55 years, resurfacing in 1991, when one of the children of August Landmesser identified the disobedient man as her father when the photo appeared in a German newspaper.
The picture went viral last year, according to The Washington Post, when it resurfaced on a blog that was launched to help with relief efforts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The picture has resurfaced again recently on websites like Cracked, Reddit, and this author’s Twitter account, where it garnered over 900 retweets.
Landmesser joined the Nazi Party in 1931 in hopes of gaining employment and was a member until 1935, when he was expelled for marrying a Jewish woman named Irma Eckler. Landmesser had two daughters with Eckler and it cost him jail time for Rassenschande (dishonoring the race).
Landmesser is believed to have served prison time from 1938–1941, after which he was discharged to serve in the military. Landmesser, however, quickly went missing and was presumed dead.
His wife, Irma, suffered a similar fate. She was jailed by the Gestapo and died during the war. The children of Irma and Landmesser were separated.