Otto Eulenstein was born in Berlin in 1917. He worked as a Siemens laboratory assistant and was called up to the Wehrmacht in 1938. Hoping to evade military service, he simulated a suicide attempt at the beginning of the war. Eulenstein went absent without leave from the Wehrmacht near Kharkiv in the summer of 1942, surviving incognito behind the lines of the eastern front for some time by hiding among the Russian civilian population. He also provided several other deserters with false papers. In early 1944, he and Kurt Henschel made their way to Berlin, where he was able to hide in his family home. The two men were arrested on February 12, 1944 and sentenced to death in a joint trial before a court martial in mid-June 1944. The court accused them of “shirking” the grueling defensive battles on the eastern front for several months and enjoying the “good life” in the occupied hinterland. Otto Eulenstein and Kurt Henschel were murdered in Brandenburg-Görden penitentiary on July 24, 1944.
Eulenstein’s mother and his wife, whom the Gestapo accused of having a “communist standpoint against the state,” were sentenced to imprisonment for aiding desertion in September 1944, as they had hidden the two men.
During his desertion, Eulenstein had written to his wife: “...One day the time will come when this cruelest of all wars will be over and everyone will be able to sleep in peace again...”