Gerhard Bökel

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Gerhard Bökel (born June 30, 1946 in Sontra- Hornel) is a German freelance author and former politician, journalist and lawyer. From 1978 to 1985 and again from 1999 to 2008 he was a member of the SPD in the Hessian state parliament . In 2003 he was his party's top candidate in the Hessian state elections. Since 2014 he has been active again as a journalist, in particular with publications about the German occupation of France during the Second World War .


After graduating from the Lichtenbergschule in Darmstadt in 1966 Bökel began at the University of Giessen a law degree . In 1971 he passed the first state examination and became a research assistant , followed by the second state examination in 1974. At the same time he worked as a freelance journalist from 1966 to 1974 , including for the Frankfurter Rundschau . In 1975 he founded a law firm in Atzbach (today the municipality of Lahnau between Gießen and Wetzlar) , where he worked until 1985. In 2003 he resumed his work as a lawyer at KKP - a merger of the former law firm in Atzbach with Kleymann and Partner - in Wetzlar. At the age of 70, he returned his license to practice as a lawyer in June 2016. Since then, he has focused on France during the Second World War, after having spent several semesters in Avignon at the university there, parallel to his legal work since 2011.

Bökel is Protestant . He lives in Frankfurt am Main and near Avignon .

Political offices

In 1966 Bökel joined the SPD. He gained political experience from 1972 to 1974 as first alderman for the community of Atzbach and from 1977 to 1979 as town councilor in the city of Lahn . In 1978 he became a member of the Hessian state parliament, where in 1979 he became the spokesman for SMEs for the SPD parliamentary group and in 1983 chairman of the cultural policy committee.

Since 1981 chairman of the SPD district parliamentary group in the Lahn-Dill district , Bökel was elected district administrator of the Lahn-Dill district in 1985. He held this office until 1994. During this time he was a member of the supervisory board of the energy supplier EAM based in Kassel, most recently as chairman of the supervisory board. From 1991 to 1994 he was also President of the Hessian and Vice President of the German District Assembly .

Under Prime Minister Hans Eichel , Bökel was Hessian Interior Minister from 1994 to 1999 and then Minister of the Interior and for Agriculture, Forests and Nature Conservation. At the same time he was a member of the Federal Council and the Mediation Committee . After the change of government in 1999 he became deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group and chairman of the SPD district of Hessen-Süd; from 2001 to 2003 he was parliamentary group leader and state chairman of the Hessian SPD. The then American Consul General in Frankfurt am Main, Peter W. Bodde, wrote in a confidential report in 2002: Bökel “is admired for his integrity, his good management and his team building skills”.

In the Hessian state elections in 2003, Bökel ran as the top candidate of the SPD, but was defeated by Prime Minister Roland Koch ( CDU ) with the worst result for the SPD in Hesse at the time. After that he was a member of the Hessian state parliament as a simple member of parliament until 2008. His main focus was on European and media politics. He criticized his successor Andrea Ypsilanti when, contrary to her election statement, she wanted to form a red-green government tolerated by the left in November 2008. For the "four deviants" who refused to consent to the formation of this planned alliance, he arranged for police protection for their press conference on the day before the planned election of Ypsilanti as Prime Minister by calling his successor as Minister of the Interior, Volker Bouffier.

Journalistic activity

After leaving politics, Bökel began studying and researching France during the Second World War. Above all, he dealt with the Resistance against the German occupiers and their French collaborators, as well as the resistance fighters, who were deported to the concentration camps not for racist reasons but because of their political activities. Survivors of the last transport from the internment camp “Le Vernet d'Ariège” described the six-week odyssey of what they called the “ghost train” to the Dachau concentration camp. Bökel published a bilingual publication on this drama. This was followed by a text about Ange Alvarez, a Spanish resistance fighter who was able to escape from a cattle wagon on the way to the concentration camp and who told Bökel his story in the resistance and that of his family, three of whom ended up in concentration camps.

In 2017 Bökel wrote a biography for the “Memory Book for Prisoners of the Dachau Concentration Camp” about Imam Abdelkader Mesli, who was first brought to Dachau and then to Mauthausen concentration camp. Mesli had been sent from the Great Mosque in Paris to look after the Muslim prisoners in the labor camps in Bordeaux - where he led a double life as an imam and a resistance fighter and was finally arrested by the Gestapo. The same fate befell the young resistance fighter Roger Valroff, who was also ordered to Bordeaux at the instigation of the mosque and, with his knowledge of German and Arabic, was employed as a liaison to the Todt Organization, but who worked underground with the imam. Bökel also wrote about him - together with the Parisian scientist Bénédicte Penn - a portrait for the memory book in Dachau. His book “The Ghost Train, the Nazis and the Resistance” was published in an updated version in French translation in January 2019 under the title “Le train fantôme, les nazis et la Résistance”.

In addition to readings and a. During the Frankfurt Book Fair and as part of "Leseland Hessen", Bökel reads and discusses with students in their schools, for example in Wiesbaden and Waldbröl. In southern France he accompanied groups of German schoolchildren who were on the trail of his book.


  • With the ghost train to death - En train fantôme vers le camp de concentration de Dachau (German National Library 2016 A 34385 (Frankfurt), 23828 (Leipzig))
  • Ange Alvarez, Une vie en Résistance - A life for the resistance (German National Library 2016 A 42746 (Frankfurt), 23829 (Leipzig))
  • The ghost train, the Nazis and the Resistance, Brandes & Apsel, 2017 ISBN 978-3-95558-190-9
  • Le train fantôme, les nazis et la Résistance - Témoignages et documents historiques à l'époque de l'occupation et collaboration dans le sud de la France, Brandes & Apsel, 2019 ISBN 978-3-95558-218-0


Gerhard Bökel was an active athlete . In the youth and senior classes, he was a multiple Hessian champion as a hammer thrower and lawn power athlete. He has participated in road races since 2000, most recently in the Frankfurt Marathon 2015 and the half marathons in Eschborn in 2017 and Villeneuve-les-Avignon in 2018


  • Jochen Lengemann : The Hessen Parliament 1946–1986 . Biographical handbook of the advisory state committee, the state assembly advising the constitution and the Hessian state parliament (1st – 11th electoral period). Ed .: President of the Hessian State Parliament. Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-458-14330-0 , p. 215–216 ( [PDF; 12.4 MB ]).
  • Jochen Lengemann: MdL Hessen. 1808-1996. Biographical index (= political and parliamentary history of the state of Hesse. Vol. 14 = publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. Vol. 48, 7). Elwert, Marburg 1996, ISBN 3-7708-1071-6 , p. 81.

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