Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf in 1948 at the Rittersturz conference

Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf (born  May 6, 1893 in Neuenkirchen ; †  December 21, 1961 in Göttingen ) was a German politician ( SPD ). He was the first Prime Minister of the State of Hanover, founded in 1946, and then the first Minister President of Lower Saxony .


Bundestag election 1949: The RSF local group north demonstrates against head
Monument by Frijo Müller-Belecke in the park in front of the St. Marien Church in his home town of Neuenkirchen

After attending elementary school in his home village, he attended the Realprogymnasium in Otterndorf and then switched to the Higher State School in Cuxhaven . At the age of 16 he dropped out of school to immigrate to America . Here he got by with temporary jobs in New Jersey for about 9 months , but then returned to Germany. He now visited the Andreanum in Hildesheim , where he passed the Abitur . He then did an apprenticeship on a farm. From 1913 he studied law and political science in Marburg and Göttingen , interrupted by participating twice in World War I from 1914 to 1915 and from 1917 to 1918. During his studies he was a member of the optional black union Lunaburgia Göttingen in Miltenberger Ring . He joined the SPD in 1919 and from 1921 was personal advisor to the Reich Minister of the Interior Eduard David , then a councilor in the Prussian and Thuringian interior ministries. Between 1923 and 1928 he worked in banking and insurance. From 1928 to 1932 he was the first Social Democrat district administrator in his home district of Hadeln . From October 1932 to 1933 he was an employee in the Opole administrative district . After his dismissal from the public service as a result of the National Socialists' seizure of power in 1933, Kopf worked as an independent businessman and farmer.

Head was from 1939 to 1943 on behalf of the Nazi government as an asset manager in occupied Poland , initially with his own company together with the lawyer Edmund Bohne, then later for the main trust agency East and was "trustee of confiscated Polish and Jewish goods" and as expropriation commissioner active in the Lubliniec region . Head must have participated responsibly in the expropriation and resettlement of the Polish population.

In 1940 he married his wife Josefine in Königshütte , a former secretary of Joseph Goebbels , who left him in 1947 because of the Minister of Education, Adolf Grimme.

In 1948 the government of the People's Republic of Poland tried to hold him accountable as a war criminal for activities in occupied Poland with an extradition request to the British Control Commission . The Higher Military Court in Herford rejected this application. Since November 1947, Kopf has been on the war criminals list of the Allied War Crimes Commission. The removal from the list of war criminals led to the demand in Poland that criminal proceedings be brought against him in absentia.

In 1945, Kopf was appointed High President of the Province of Hanover by the British Military Government . As a result, he was significantly involved in the concepts for the establishment of the State of Lower Saxony, whose first Prime Minister he became on November 1, 1946. Together with Adolf Grimme and Fritz Sänger , he led the drafting of the Lower Saxony state constitution, which was passed in 1951. On a poster of the SPD from the immediate post-war period, next to a head portrait was shown as the slogan: “I am a socialist because I am a Christian”.

After his second term in office, Kopf temporarily withdrew from politics in 1955, but accepted the position of a member of the supervisory board at the Peine ironworks . In 1957 he returned to state politics as minister of the interior, and from 1959 until his death he served again as prime minister.

Kopf was often called "the red Welf", whether due to friendly connections to the Welf House is doubtful. He was not invited to the wedding in the Welfenhaus in 1951. Kopf was considered close to the people, down-to-earth and hard-drinking. He was a hunter. Numerous sayings were rumored long after his death as evidence of his popular language. The Low German saying hanging in the former Otterndorf district office: “Pus'di man nich op, bust ok blot mit'n nookten Moors oppe Welt komen” (“Don't puff yourself up, you were just born with a bare bottom “), Should come from him.

The grave of Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf in sticks

His grave is located at the Stöcken city cemetery in Hanover and until 2015 was a so-called grave of honor of the city of Hanover, whose administration decorated and tended it with flowers. In June 2015, the bodies of the city council initiated the repeal of the previous decision because head was "unworthy of the honor" .

Political offices and honors

Evaluation of behavior between 1933 and 1945

After 2010, reports on Kopf's behavior during the National Socialist era began, which was triggered in particular by the dissertation of the Göttingen historian Teresa Nentwig at the Institute for Democracy Research at the University of Göttingen. In particular, his activity as a so-called asset manager in Germany-occupied Poland was seen as involvement in the crimes of National Socialist plundering. After 1945 Kopf denied this entanglement. Head had "lied to the state parliament" on the matter, said in 2013 Kopf's future successor in office, Stephan Weil . In the Lower Saxony state parliament, politicians of all directions accused Kopf of not having been a National Socialist, but of having enriched themselves in the property of Jewish and Polish fellow citizens as property managers when they were expropriated. These new insights into head are largely based on the research results in Teresa Nentwig's dissertation.

After submitting the new research results, the Lower Saxony State Parliament commissioned the Historical Commission for Lower Saxony and Bremen to provide an expert opinion on Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf's biography. In October 2013, it presented this report, in which it essentially summarizes the research results of Nentwig and confirms the allegations that were already made against Kopf in the founding phase of the state of Lower Saxony. With reference to the importance of Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf in the democratic reconstruction in Lower Saxony, the commission voted for the honoring of the first Prime Minister by naming schools, public places and streets. Instead of a renaming, the commission proposed "to present its activities in a suitable form, to honor its achievements and to disclose its obvious mistakes, omissions and offenses during the time of National Socialism" , as the commission chairman Thomas Vogtherr said on the occasion of a colloquium on the Nazi past of former members of the Bremen citizenship.

New and old name of Hannah-Arendt-Platz (formerly Hinrich-Wilhelm-Kopf-Platz) in April 2016.

On September 15, 2014, the District Council of Hanover-Mitte decided to change the name of Hinrich-Wilhelm-Kopf-Platz in the state parliament to “ Hannah-Arendt-Platz ”. The name change took place on April 2, 2015. Various other institutions, for example schools, which previously had the name Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf, were also renamed.


Web links

Commons : Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Online version of the report with the title The National Socialist Past of a Later Member of the Lower Saxony State Parliament (accessed August 13, 2013), author Stephan A. Glienke. Print version Hanover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hanover 2012.
  2. a b c Der Spiegel, No. 5/1948 of January 31, 1948, p. 3 digitized version , accessed on June 13, 2015
  3. Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf was involved in Nazi crimes . In: Süddeutsche.de, July 11, 2013
  4. ^ Lower Saxony gallery of personalities
  5. Der Spiegel, No. 18/1948 of May 1, 1948, p. 17 digitized version , accessed on June 13, 2015
  6. Der Spiegel, No. 15 of April 12, 1947, p. 1 digitized version , accessed on June 13, 2015
  7. ^ ZEIT of March 11, 1954
  8. Der Spiegel, No. 37/1951 of September 12, 1951, p. 8 digitized version , accessed on June 13, 2015
  9. Der Spiegel, No. 4/1953 of January 21, 1953, p. 25 digitized version , accessed on June 13, 2015
  10. Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, City of Hanover edition, June 13, 2015, p. 15
  11. https://www.mi.niedersachsen.de/minister/ehemalige_minister/hinrich-wilhelm-kopf-60407.html
  12. Marco Hadem: Nazi shadow over Lower Saxony. The state's first prime minister was involved in the robbery of Jewish property before 1945 / “Lied to the state parliament” , Frankfurter Rundschau , July 13, 2013, p. 4
  13. ^ Robert von Lucius: A bad address , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 301 of December 28, 2013, p. 5
  14. ^ Teresa Nentwig: Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf (1893-1961). A conservative social democrat (publications of the historical commission for Lower Saxony and Bremen, vol. 272). Rooster. Hanover 2013. ISBN 978-377-52607-2-5 . Published as a dissertation in 2012. - Teresa Nentwig's assessment of Kopf's attitude during the Nazi era has not gone unchallenged, cf. the critical review by Karl-Ludwig Sommer in: Bremisches Jahrbuch Volume 94, 2015, pp. 286–288.
  15. Klaus Wallbaum: Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf is no longer a role model . In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung November 19, 2013
  16. Klaus Wallbaum: CDU wants "Place of Lower Saxony" . In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung November 22, 2013
  17. First country father is considered burdened . In: Weser-Kurier November 20, 2013
  18. Thomas Vogtherr: The Nazi past of Prime Minister Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf and later members of the state parliament. In: The Nazi past of former members of the Bremen citizenship. Edited by the Bremen citizenship. Bremen 2014, pp. 140–147, here p. 144.
  19. Hinrich-Wilhelm-Kopf-Platz becomes Arendt-Platz In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung of September 15, 2014
  20. This place is now very appropriate In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung of April 2, 2015
  21. Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, Stadt-Anzeiger Ost, from September 17, 2015, p. 2