Horst Ludwig Georg Erich Wessel (9 October 1907 – 23 February 1930) was a German street gangster and, according to some sources, a procurer of prostitutes who became a Sturmführer ("Assault Leader"), the lowest commissioned officer rank in the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. After his murder in 1930, Joseph Goebbels turned him into a martyr for the Nazi Party.
Wessel first joined a number of youth groups and extreme right-wing paramilitary groups, but later resigned from them and joined the SA, the brownshirted street-fighting stormtroopers of the Nazi Party. He rose to command several SA squads and districts. On 14 January 1930, he was shot in the head by two members of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Albrecht "Ali" Höhler was arrested and charged with his murder. Höhler was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but was forcibly taken out of jail and killed by the SA after the Nazis came to power.
Wessel's funeral was given wide attention in Berlin, with many of the Nazi elite in attendance. After his death, he became a major propaganda symbol in Nazi Germany. A march he had written the lyrics to was renamed the "Horst-Wessel-Lied" ("Horst Wessel Song"), and became the official anthem of the Nazi Party. After Adolf Hitler came to national power in 1933, the song became the co-national anthem of Germany, along with the first verse of the previous "Deutschlandlied", also known as "Deutschland über alles".