Carl Wallmann

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Idealizing portrayal of the "robber chief Rose" from the 19th century

Heinrich Christian Carl August Wallmann, called Räuberhauptmann Rose (born June 10, 1816 in Helmstedt , † probably as an emigrant in the United States ), was a well-known German robber in the Brunswick-Prussian border area in the first half of the 19th century.


As the illegitimate son of his widowed mother Johanna Elisabeth Rose, he was listed in the court files under the maternal surname Wallmann . The father has remained unknown. Against this background, Carl Wallmann was denied the opportunity of vocational training at the time.


In the 1830s and at the beginning of the 1840s, Carl Wallmann, known as Rose, was up to mischief in the Helmstedt area. He made use of the close proximity of the border between the Duchy of Braunschweig and the Prussian province of Saxony by evading the respective law enforcement authorities by fleeing across the border. From 1834 he was evidently the leader of the already existing gang. The group of perpetrators involved here was mostly between 20 and 30 years old and lived under unfavorable social and economic conditions. Rose and his gang are part of a modern criminal type; in this way, mugging or brutality against people was avoided. In the place of violence, more cunning and skill were required. The gang member Eduard Stodtmeister had specialized as a blacksmith's journeyman to use his learned trade and to open even the most complicated locks. Accordingly, Rose is actually not to be seen as a robber in the conventional sense, but rather as a leader of a very "successful" gang of thieves .

In view of his sensational thefts and the audacity of his actions, Rose aroused astonishment and admiration among the people. This went so far that popular tradition admired his deeds to be compared with those of Robin Hood . The local police forces were often treated with mockery. The saying ascribed to him “I ick't take the Rieken, jew ick't the poor!” Had little in common with reality. He has seldom shown himself to be noble. The victims were predominantly wealthy (landlords, merchants, higher officials), but contrary to popular belief, “little people” were not spared either. Several church break-ins were also recorded.

The following is a short excerpt from his extensive series of burglaries:

The fences were located outside of Helmstedt in Magdeburg , Gardelegen , Calvörde , Weferlingen and Grafhorst . Most of the booty was deposited in Harbke with the gang member and master baker Carl Bokelberg, whose sister Friederike was in a relationship with Rose.

After denunciation in the summer of 1841, the robber captain was arrested several times, but also tried to escape successfully. The border forest Lappwald often served as a refuge . In the meantime, 100 thalers were offered for his capture . On February 10, 1843, Rose was finally arrested in Harbke at his girlfriend's house. In autumn 1845 the trial took place before the ducal high court in Wolfenbüttel . Rose made a full confession. The trial was no less extensive, as 52 accomplices were also accused, of whom 126 crimes - mostly gang theft - were charged. On December 23, 1845 the judgment was announced. Carl Wallmann, called Rose, was sent to prison for 15 years. In 1848 an amnesty was given by Duke Wilhelm of Brunswick and he was deported to the USA. At that time, people liked to use the comparatively inexpensive forced emigration to North America to get rid of incorrigible habitual criminals. The travel expenses were borne by the public purse.

Nothing more is known about Rose's fate in the New World .

Nevertheless, a certain veneration of the robber captain Rose has been preserved in the population of the region concerned. His deeds were transfigured and after a short time more positive legends grew up around his criminal past.

The figure of the robber captain Rose served for some time as an advertising emblem for the Elm-Lappwald tourist association .


  • Gunther Hirschligau: ... the most honest of the robbers and thieves. Novel about the robber chief Rose. Dr. Ziethen Verlag, Oschersleben 2002, ISBN 3-935358-52-0 .
  • Joachim Lehrmann : Gangs of robbers between Harz and Weser. 1st edition 2004, pp. 230-233, ISBN 3-9803642-4-0 .
  • Hans-Ehrhard Müller: Helmstedt - the history of a German city. 2nd edition 2004, pp. 640-645.
  • Mechthild Wiswe : Social Reality and Myth - A Helmstedter burglar gang around 1840. In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch Volume 74, pp. 129-146, Braunschweig 1993.
  • Bernd Stephan: Money or Life! Gangs of robbers between Harz, Upper Lusatia and the Ore Mountains. Bussert & Stadeler Verlag, Jena and Quedlinburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-942115-06-3 .