TIL In WW1, artist Johannes Koelz received an Iron Cross for bravery in rescuing a comrade from behind enemy lines. Years later he fell out of favour with the Nazis, but the man they sent to arrest him was the very man whose life he’d saved, and he allowed Koelz 48 hours to escape

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

>by 1938 his name was on a party blacklist. Nevertheless, it is clear that neither the National Socialist movement nor the security services always spoke with a single voice, and a number of people must have taken great personal risks in order to ensure that Koelz was permitted to escape at the end of 1937 when the time came for him to be arrested.[5] >After the episode of the Hitler portrait commission, Koelz applied for what he assumed would be a routine visa renewal in order to visit Italy. He needed to supervise the printing of some illustrationd for his publisher.[5] He took a trip to the appropriate department of the main police station in Munich to have the visa renewal attended to. After a long wait he was invited into a little meeting room for a discussion with an Inspector Müller of the Political Police. The serious looking man behind the desk looked familiar, and he tried to recall where he had seen that face before. Then he had a flash-back to 1916 and Douaumont. His interlocutor was Corporal Müller whom he had last seen immobilised, with a leg reduced to pulp during the terrible Battle of Verdun. After determining that the injured corporal was breathing and still alive, Koelz had carried him away and, both men seem to have agreed, saved his life by doing so. Evidently Inspector Müller of the political police had recognised his rescuer. He gazed unblinkingly at Koelz for a few seconds before confiscating his passport and holding in front of him an arrest warrant on which Koelz could pick out the phrase “pacifist propaganda”. Müller then placed the documents back in his desk drawer and returned his steady gaze to the man sitting opposite him: “It will stay there for 48 hours. Good bye and Good luck, Captain”. He then stood to attention, with some difficulty on account of his wooden leg, and in silence: Koelz did the same. Koelz was then escorted to the main entrance of the police station. He made for the nearby Frauenkirche, Munichcathedral and went in to sit and sort out his thoughts. He had indeed published “some fifty satirical poems of anti-military tendency”, though it would never become obvious to him how the security serives had linked him to “Johannes Matthaeus” had managed to track back to the true authorship of the work. He reflected that possibly the “leftwing offices” of the publisher had been raided.[1][2][5] >He had forty-eight hours in which to leave the country.[3][4] Koelz had recently completed eleven paintings to complete a twelve painting Stations of the Cross series for the little church in Hohenbrunn, which had had been scheduled for consecration on 16 October 1938. He would be unable to participate in the ceremony, however. After receiving the warning from Inspector Müller he at once took his vast “Du Sollst Nicht Töten” anti-war triptych to the local saw-mill and cut it up into sixteen or twenty sections. Its anti-war message had fallen out of favour with the government and their agencies. The sections were distributed among friends and relations. Most remain lost. Meanwhile Johannes Koelz, accompanied by his wife, their teenage son, and their infant daughter and set out on foot for Austria, still a separate country at this point. During his time in the army in the early 1920s Koelz had undertaken border duty, so he knew all the crossing points and the likely locations for the stationing of border guards. Koelz was convinced that Austria would soon be incorporated into Germany (as in March 1938 it was), so they continued on, crosing illegally into Czechoslovakia. They made their home, for a time, in Prague. They found a small apartment for which they were obliged to pay three month’s rent in advance, which virtually exhausted their funds. Loelz wioth his wife and their two children lived under circumstances of severe poverty even though, despite the problematic times through which they were living, Koelz continued to receive a steady trickle of portrait commissions. It was nevertheless a time during which, as Siegfried Koelz later recalled, one pound sent by Clothilde (the middle of Claire Koelz’s three daughters, who had already escaped to England) would keep the family fed for a week.[5] Since 1933 the Czechoslovak capital had become a place of refuge for large numbers of political refugees from Hitler’s Germany, along with others who faced persecution because the German government had classified them as Jewish or “half-Jewish”.[2] In 1938 Prague, too, fell under German control. It was time to move on again: most of the political exiles fled to Moscow or Paris

pufballcat

“I am here to serve your arrest warrant. Here is the warrant. Please allow me to look and review this warrant with my back turned for oh say 120 seconds”

FuzzySoda916

Thank you for sharing that article. It was a great read. I wish it covered the period after his internment in Australia., so we would know how he got back.

sirbearus

Needs to be a lesson to everyone who thinks they want to support Nazis here. There is **nothing** you can do to make yourself “safe”. You will eventually be turned on. This is what Nazis do, they **always** turn on you.

PokingKeys

That’s as lucky as u can get

JPicaro416