Paul Camille by Denis

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Paul Camille by Denis
His first railway construction, the Ludwigseisenbahn : special stamp for the 100th anniversary, 1935

Paul Camille Denis , who had been by Denis since 1852 (born June 26, 1795 at Les Saales Castle near Montier-en-Der , Haute-Marne department , † September 3, 1872 in Bad Dürkheim ), was one of the leading engineers in the early days of the railway in Germany and participant in the Hambach Festival .


Paul Camille Denis was the son of the forest clerk Pierre Denis (born November 24, 1752 in Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais , † January 22, 1816 in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse ) and his wife Marie Anne Etienette († 1850 in Fontainebleau ), born de Porte. In addition to Paul Camille, they had three other children,

  • Albert
  • Elise (remained unmarried)
  • Jules (born June 13, 1813 in Mainz)

The family probably moved in 1799 to the area on the left bank of the Rhine, annexed by France in 1797, where their father, Pierre Denis, who leased his French estate, became forest inspector of the Département du Mont-Tonnerre . He was in charge of the chief forest inspection in Mainz , one of two chief inspections for the annexed area on the left bank of the Rhine. The family also moved to Mainz, where it can be verified for the first time in 1801. Pierre Denis acquired the village of Wooghaus in the municipality of Neuhofen at the auction of goods from former church and aristocratic property and sold his goods in France. In 1810, Pierre Denis became a city councilor in Mainz.

Paul Camille Denis married Henriette Reine Vauterau († 1868 in Munich) in 1821, daughter of a domain inspector in Saarbrücken . The marriage remained childless.


Paul Camille Denis attended elementary school and grammar school in Mainz until 1813. Then he went to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. In 1814/15 he studied at the Paris Polytechnic School , where André-Marie Ampère was one of his teachers . After the school was closed during the restoration in 1816, he returned to his family in what was now the Bavarian Palatinate .



Paul Camille Denis began on June 15, 1816 as an intern at the state building administration, which had just become royal Bavarian on April 30, 1816 . At first he was a "construction conductor" in Germersheim . The eight construction conductors who were active in the Palatinate (Bavaria) at that time mainly dealt with road construction and hydraulic engineering on the Rhine . April 17, 1818, he was commissioned by King I. Maximilian for "Inspections engineer" (building inspector) in Kaiserslautern appointed. At that time there were two building inspectors in the Bavarian Palatinate. Denis stayed in Kaiserslautern until the end of 1822, where, among other things, he built the central prison and the rectory of St. Martin . He was then transferred to Speyer , to Zweibrücken on October 24, 1826 , where he received a first-class engineering position. The main focus of his activity was road construction.

Railway construction


Paul Camille Denis' commitment to the railroad began with a study trip that he embarked on in 1832. He visited Belgium , England and the USA , all countries in which at that time railways were already operated with steam locomotives or, as in Belgium, were just being built. In England he also met George Stephenson . In the fall of 1832 he arrived in New York , where he visited canals and railways. This led him to take a clear position in favor of the new means of transport on the question of “canal or railroad”, which was fiercely discussed in Germany - and especially in Bavaria. In 1833 he went back to England, extended his vacation again and returned to the Bavarian civil service in March 1834. He was appointed technical ministerial commissioner with the task of examining the design for the construction of the Ludwig-Danube-Main Canal . However, he did not get involved in the construction project because - as it later turned out: rightly - he assumed that it was about 50% underfunded.

Nuremberg – Fürth

The only surviving passenger car from the original stock of the Ludwig Railway , which was created under the direction of Denis.

The Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft was actually looking for an English engineer for their project for a railway from Nuremberg to Fürth. An English specialist turned out to be very expensive. Corresponding negotiations with George Stephenson failed. The director of the Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, Georg Zacharias Platner , was made aware of Denis by the latter in an exchange of letters with the Hofbaudirektor Leo von Klenze and was also able to ensure that the state, albeit hesitantly, for only short periods of time, but repeatedly, was exempted. In the meantime, on March 12, 1835, Denis was appointed District Engineer of the Munich Building Inspection, District I. He was able to complete the building project and take part in the inauguration on December 7, 1835, but then had to return to Munich immediately to take up his duties there again. In December 1836 he was entrusted with the management of the Munich Building Inspection, District II.

Follow-up projects

Munich-Augsburg Railway, around 1840
Kastel train station : On April 13, 1840 the first train of the Taunus Railway to Wiesbaden passed through the train station

Denis now took two months off to study the latest developments in railways in England and France. On June 24, 1836, Denis was commissioned by the Munich-Augsburg Railway Company with the preliminary planning for their main line. The execution then took place according to his planning until 1840, but he was no longer involved because there was no contract between the executing company and him in this regard. In addition, he had received other interesting offers. This included the Taunus Railway from Frankfurt to Wiesbaden , whose construction he supervised until 1840.

Railways in the Palatinate

First train station in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse on the Palatine Ludwig Railway in the middle distance

The Bavarian government recognized these successes and Denis strove back to the Palatinate, where the position of the district building council in Speyer had become vacant. He applied for it, was accepted, took over the position provisionally at the end of October 1840 and finally on March 1, 1841. There he dealt mainly with road construction. In the same year he was appointed to the royal railway construction commission, which was supposed to prepare the construction of the Bavarian main lines as state railways

Denis was there, together with Friedrich August von Pauli and Franz Joseph Dürig, under the supervision of the secret senior construction director Leo von Klenze, responsible for the entire state railway construction in Bavaria. But just a year later he returned to the Palatinate. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. But there must have been disagreements in the administration that he couldn't get through. In 1843 he planned the Cologne-Bonn Railway .

In the meantime the Palatinate Ludwig Railway Society had been founded in the Palatinate . On April 25, 1844, she commissioned Denis to review the planning for the main line from the years 1838/1839. This trunk line led from Ludwigshafen am Rhein to Bexbach , the border station to Prussia , and the long-term destination of a connection to Paris . It is the middle section of today's Mannheim – Saarbrücken railway . This was the first railway line in Germany that crossed a mountain range, the Palatinate Forest . 12 tunnels and 15 bridges were required between Neustadt and Hochspeyer alone . Denis submitted his report on August 6, 1844 and suggested building the width of the embankment for a second track that could then be laid later, and to use more powerful locomotives than originally planned in order to be able to transport heavier trains. Denis was given the task of building on September 23, 1844. On the same day, a board of directors for the railways was set up, including Denis as a construction director. He was responsible for both the construction of the railway infrastructure and the procurement of vehicles. Thanks to tenders and strict supervision of the construction sites, he was able to keep to schedules and budget. While he was building the Palatinate Ludwig Railway , the Saxon government tried to win him over to build the Leipzig – Hof railway line , but this blocked the Bavarian administration as it was needed for the construction of the railway in the Palatinate. The files also show that the construction of the Frankfurt – Hanau railway line was “supervised” .

Paul Camille Denis built the Villa Denis at the foot of the ruins of Diemerstein Castle in Diemerstein , which the Ludwig Railway Company had given him , at the same time as the railway was built from 1845 to 1849 . The property is less than a kilometer from the Frankenstein (Pfalz) train station . When he left the Palatinate in 1856 to take over the management of the Bayerische Ostbahn , he sold the property to the Mannheim banker Ladenburg, one of the major shareholders of the Pfalzbahn-Gesellschaft, who used the property as a summer residence.

On August 25, 1849, the Palatinate Ludwig Railway was opened to traffic. As a result, the company's board of directors elected Denis on October 10, 1849, as operations manager and he resigned from civil service the following year. In the following years he built further railway lines for the Palatinate Ludwig Railway:

He also built the Neustadt – Weißenburg railway line for the Palatinate Maximilians Railway Company . In addition, he planned the railway lines

Bavarian Eastern Railway

Danube bridge of the Bavarian Eastern Railway near Regensburg 1859

The Bavarian government now saw Denis as the railway expert. At the invitation of the Bavarian Trade (and Railway) Minister, he traveled to all of Germany's state railways in order to derive recommendations for the Bavarian State Railways. Finally, on July 18, 1856, he was appointed director of the stock corporation of the Bavarian Eastern Railways , which was endowed with a capital of 60 million guilders and was supposed to connect the previously almost railroad-free area of ​​northeast Bavaria to the world. The first project of the newly founded company in 1856 was the connection Nuremberg - Amberg - Regensburg - Landshut - Munich (today: Nuremberg – Schwandorf railway , section of the Regensburg – Weiden line and the Regensburg – Munich railway ). He was given an indefinite leave of absence from the Palatinate Railways.

Denis once again managed the construction of the first eastern railway line with flying colors: instead of seven years, he completed the construction in five, spent 55 million guilders on it and fell short of the estimated construction cost by 16.5 million guilders. The Ostbahngesellschaft immediately hired him as operations director. From 1862 she built the Schwandorf - Bayreuth - Eger line from the savings . Denis managed Schwandorf-Bayreuth in one year and again stayed below the cost estimate, this time with 4.5 million guilders. These construction projects also worked so well because Denis knew how to bind skilled workers and workers to himself and the project. When building the railway, he always built workers' quarters and provided sufficient living space for the operating staff. He also set up a pension fund , a health insurance fund and a railway medical service.

Also in 1862 Paul Camille von Denis was appointed chairman of the planning commission for the Mannheim - Ludwigshafen Rhine bridge by the Bavarian trade (and railway) minister .

On August 23, 1866, Denis resigned from active civil service - at his own request, he was now 71 years old. A year later he also resigned from the position of director of the Bavarian Eastern Railway.

Political commitment

In Zweibrücken, where he worked from 1826, he met representatives of the bourgeois opposition around Friedrich Schüler and Christian Culmann (1795–1837), both of whom he knew well before and who were the best witnesses at his wedding. This group included Johann Georg August Wirth , Joseph Savoye and Ferdinand Geib .

The " German Press and Fatherland Association " founded by the Democrats in early 1832 had one of its main financiers in the wealthy Paul Camille Denis. In his personal files his fortune for this year is given as 300,000 guilders . As the secretary of the "pressing and country club", August 1832 Georg Eifler , is arrested Paul Camille Denis offers 10,000 guilders for the deposit of 1848 Denis makes it the station master of Neustadt . His successor as station master was Hermann Friedrich More in 1853, who was also active in the "Press and Fatherland Association" in Grünstadt .

Paul Camille Denis is elected several times to the Palatinate District Administrator , where he was one of the Liberals . Like the entire district administrator, Paul Camille Denis also took part in the Hambach Festival , which was banned by the Bavarian government . He then went to France for his safety, but then signed the "Kaiserslauterer Protest" against the police state federal decrees of June 28, 1832 on August 1, 1832. This led to an indictment against Denis for "denigrating the highest state authorities" and trying to move him to Rosenheim in the Isar district. Paul Camille Denis responded by applying for and receiving unpaid leave on November 7, 1832 for a "technical educational trip" to England and the USA. In April 1834 he was acquitted in the criminal trial for “denigrating the highest state authorities”.

The Bavarian government prevented his election to the Chamber of Deputies of the Bavarian Estates Assembly by refusing him the vacation required for this.

In the German Revolution of 1848/1849 Denis was no longer actively involved, but sympathized with its goals. He also helped friends who were in danger of being professionally unsuccessful due to the revolution, with jobs on the railway or in railway construction.

When the management of the Palatinate Ludwigsbahn moved to Ludwigshafen in 1849, Denis and his wife also moved there. It is reported that Paul von Denis was involved there as a board member of the local church administration ("factory president") in the Roman Catholic St. Ludwig community. However, there is probably a mix-up with his deputy and successor in the management of the Palatinate Ludwig Railway, Albert von Jäger (1814–1887).

Retirement and death

In total, Denis built around 1,000 km of railway lines. After giving up his professional functions in 1866 and 1867, his wife died in 1868. He had already prepared his return to the Palatinate, where he maintained numerous friendships and personal contacts. In Bad Dürkheim he acquired two centrally located properties, had the building on one of the properties demolished and in 1868 the current Villa Denis was built. Here he spent the summers, while in the winter he lived with relatives in Strasbourg .

Paul Camille Denis died in 1872. He was buried at the side of his wife in the St. Helenen Cemetery in Schiltigheim near Strasbourg. The Karlsruhe Federal Railway Directorate looked after the grave maintenance at least until the 1980s.


Title and medal


  • One of the first locomotives in the Palatinate region bore his name. It was the number 3 of the Palatinate Ludwig Railway, a 1A1 passenger locomotive built in 1847 by Emil Keßler under the serial number 72 in the mechanical engineering company in Karlsruhe . In 1847 she was named "DENIS", in 1852, after Denis had been ennobled, in "v. DENIS “renamed. It was retired in 1879.
  • Then in 1880 another locomotive was named “v. Denis ”. This passenger locomotive, a 1Bn2, was manufactured by Maffei in Munich under the factory number 1218 and retired on September 2, 1922.



Street name in Frankfurt a. M.


  • The Paul-von-Denis school center in Schifferstadt was named after him.


in alphabetical order by authors / editors

Web links


  1. There are different details about his date of birth: In a notarial certification in 1794, the parents indicate it as December 10, 1792 (Schreiner, p. 19). There is also an entry in the birth register of the municipality of Montièr-en-Der for June 26, 1795 (Schreiner, p. 21). On the other hand, the date of June 24, 1795 is given on his tombstone (Schreiner, p. 109f). On the occasion of his retirement, the Bavarian administration assumes that he was born on June 28, 1796 (Schreiner, p. 22).
  2. Pierre Denis was initially a priest and during the French Revolution became a farmer who ran his own estate (Schreiner, p. 9ff), before he finally switched to forest management.
  3. Void is given as the place of birth (Kunz, p. 5), at least the wedding takes place there (Schreiner, p. 40).
  4. The cemetery is a listed building . See: Base Mérimée .
  5. Kunz, p. 12, speaks of a "Cross of the Legion of Honor"; Schreiner, p. 96, from a "Knight's Cross". There is only one Grand Cross here, as the second highest level.

Individual evidence

  1. Schreiner, p. 9.
  2. Schreiner, p. 31; Kunz, p. 5.
  3. Schreiner, p. 31.
  4. Kunz, p. 12.
  5. Schreiner, p. 31.
  6. Schreiner, p. 23.
  7. Schreiner, p. 26.
  8. Schreiner, p. 28.
  9. Kunz, p. 12.
  10. Kunz, p. 5.
  11. Kunz, p. 5.
  12. Schreiner, p. 34.
  13. Schreiner, p. 39.
  14. Kunz, p. 5.
  15. Schreiner, p. 39.
  16. Schreiner, p. 41.
  17. Kunz, p. 5.
  18. Kunz, p. 6.
  19. Kunz, p. 6ff.
  20. Schreiner, p. 53.
  21. Kunz, p. 8; Schreiner, p. 57.
  22. Schreiner, p. 60.
  23. Kunz, p. 8.
  24. Schreiner, pp. 60f.
  25. Schreiner, p. 61f.
  26. Schreiner, p. 63.
  27. Schreiner, p. 72.
  28. Schreiner, p. 76.
  29. Schreiner, p. 74.
  30. Kunz, p. 10.
  31. Kunz, p. 11.
  32. Schreiner, p. 74.
  33. Kunz, p. 9.
  34. Schreiner, p. 76.
  35. Schreiner, p. 87.
  36. Kunz, p. 12.
  37. Kunz, p. 10.
  38. Kunz, p. 10.
  39. Kunz, p. 10.
  40. Kunz, p. 10.
  41. Kunz, p. 11.
  42. Schreiner, p. 40.
  43. Schreiner, p. 96.
  44. Schreiner, p. 98.
  45. Kunz, p. 5.
  46. Kunz, p. 6.
  47. Kunz, p. 6.
  48. Kunz, p. 12.
  49. Schreiner, p. 87.
  50. See: Jakob Knauber : Albert von Jäger, Director of the Palatinate Railways (1814–1887) . Publishing house of the Catholic parish offices, Ludwigshafen, 1925.
  51. Kunz, p. 11.
  52. Kunz, p. 12f.
  53. Kunz, p. 13.
  54. Kunz, p. 13.
  55. Schreiner, p. 98.
  56. Kunz, p. 12.
  57. Kunz, p. 12.
  58. Kunz, p. 12.
  59. Kunz, p. 12.
  60. Kunz, p. 12.
  61. Kunz, p. 12.
  62. ^ Albert Mühl: The Pfalzbahn. History, operation and vehicles of the Palatinate Railways . Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 1982. ISBN 3-8062-0301-6 , p. 154.
  63. Kunz, p. 12.
  64. Kunz, p. 12.
  65. Schreiner, p. 84.
  66. Kunz, p. 13.
  67. Falk map of Frankfurt a. M./Offenbach a. M., 64th edition, Falk-Verlag, Ostfildern 2011.