The commercial clerk Johannes Stelling joined the SPD at an early age. From 1901 to 1919, he was an editor for the Social Democratic Lübecker Volksbote newspaper, and became a member of the Reichstag soon after it was founded. He was prime minister of Mecklenburg-Schwerin from 1921 to 1924 and also a functionary in the Reich Banner Black-Red-Gold. After the National Socialists took power, he publicly referred to the Reichstag fire as an act provoked by the Nazi government. During the night of June 21, 1933, he was taken prisoner on the orders of the Berlin SA Sturmbannführer Herbert Gehrke, and severely beaten and tortured. The SA troop took him and other victims to the former court prison in Köpenick. The SA men thought Stelling was dead and tied him up in a sack. When they noticed he was still alive, they shot Johannes Stelling and threw his corpse in the River Dahme. His body was only discovered some days later. Johann Stelling was one of the victims of the Köpenick Blood Week, in which the SA captured, humiliated, and maltreated some 500 opponents of National Socialism between June 21 and 26, 1933. Many of them were murdered in the process.