Walter Kolb

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Memorial plaque on Paulskirche , unveiled on the occasion of his 100th birthday on January 22, 2002

Walter Kolb (born January 22, 1902 in Bonn ; † September 20, 1956 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German SPD politician .


Kolb was born in Bonn in 1902 as the son of the businessman Eduard Kolb and the forester's daughter Clementine Stichter from Koblenz. In Bonn he also attended high school and university . In 1920 he joined the SPD while studying law and economics . In 1922 he founded the Republican Student Cartel , which campaigned for democracy and against anti-Semitism at universities. In 1923 he was arrested by the French occupation authorities and held in custody for months. During this stay in prison, Kolb passed his first state examination.

In 1924 Walter Kolb began his first position as a court trainee, in 1931 he moved to Berlin as an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture. His political career reached its first high point in 1932 when he became the district administrator of the Landkreis Herrschaft Schmalkalden and thus at the age of 30 the youngest district administrator in the Free State of Prussia . During this time he married Anna Maria Elisabeth Trimborn.

During the Weimar Republic, Kolb belonged to the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold organization for the protection of the republic .


Because of his criticism of National Socialism , he was put into retirement in 1933, officially justified with savings measures. After initial plans to emigrate, Walter Kolb finally founded a law firm in Bonn, where he looked after people who were racially and politically persecuted and received multiple prison sentences for this. In addition to the political pressure, there was a personal blow of fate when his daughter died shortly after giving birth in 1940. In 1941 Kolb was drafted into the Wehrmacht . His son, also named Walter, was born in 1944. In the same year Kolb was linked with the assassination attempt on Hitler and arrested, although there was no connection between him and the assassins. In 1945 he managed to escape from a prisoner transport and go into hiding until the end of the war.

Lord Mayor

After the Second World War , Walter Kolb was first mayor (1945/46) and senior city director (1946) of the city of Düsseldorf . On July 25, 1946, he was elected as the first freely elected Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main after the war. On August 1, he took office as the successor to CDU member Kurt Blaum .

When I was visiting the city of my birth as a French journalist in 1947, I interviewed the mayor Walter Kolb. He was a former Buchenwald prisoner. I didn't have to 'make up' with him. We shared a responsibility for the German future. "

One of Kolb's most important tasks was the rebuilding of the city, which had been destroyed by the war, and thus the creation of living space. Among other things, he was the initiator of the restoration of Frankfurt's old town with the Römer , the Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew and the faithful reconstruction of the Goethe House. On October 17, 1946, he launched the Citizens Employment Campaign and participated in the clean-up work on the Römerberg with a jackhammer. One of the later controversial decisions, however, was that the reconstruction of the old town was limited to individual, outstanding buildings and the former old town was largely built over with contemporary residential buildings.

Be united for our city. "

- Walter Kolb

The revitalization of the trade fair and the expansion of Frankfurt Airport were also among his focal points. The first Frankfurt Peace Fair is the International Autumn Fair in 1948, a few months after the currency reform. From 1946, Kolb tried to get the US military government to clear Victory Park. This is how the Frankfurt Waldstadion (today: Commerzbank-Arena ) and the stadium pool were named, neither of which was destroyed in the war. His assertions and arguments that the stadium pool serves to prevent epidemics and that the forest stadium is an indispensable contribution to youth education were not accepted. It was not until July 1, 1950 that Kolb was able to return the stadium and stadium pool to the population. Between 1953 and 1955, Kolb had the Waldstadion expanded to become the second largest German sports arena for 87,000 spectators. He was also responsible for the establishment of influential sports associations in Frankfurt, the German Gymnastics Federation, the German Sports Association, the German Football Association and others.

In 1946 Kolb encouraged the social philosopher Max Horkheimer, who had been expelled by the Nazis, to return to Frankfurt am Main and finally overcame his concerns about returning to the perpetrators' country. In the autumn of the same year, Kolb instructed the Frankfurt City Archives (today: Institute for City History ) to collect files relating to the persecution of Jews during the Nazi era. From this arose on May 17, 1961 the Commission for Research into the History of Frankfurt Jews.

With great personal commitment, he campaigned throughout Germany for the reconstruction of the Paulskirche . All of Germany must

… Rebuild the Paulskirche, from the outside and from the inside, in stone as in spirit. "

- Walter Kolb

The church was completed on May 18, 1948, just in time for the centenary of the National Assembly. At that time, however, the citizens of Frankfurt had completely different worries, they wanted a roof over their heads and enough food.

Kolb's vehement commitment to the capital issue of the Federal Republic of Germany was unsuccessful . The Parliamentary Council and later also the German Bundestag voted against Frankfurt in 1949. The precautionary erected plenary building for the Bundestag on Bertramswiese was given the mocking title of Kolb's bathtub . It was later expanded as a broadcasting hall by the Hessischer Rundfunk and is still in use today. Kolb was more successful with his next goal of developing the financial center of Frankfurt am Main into the economic center of West Germany. In 1947 the Bizonen-Wirtschaftsrat took its seat in Frankfurt, in 1948 the Bank Deutscher Länder was opened. This later became the Deutsche Bundesbank .

In 1950 Walter Kolb was elected to the Hessian state parliament. The bald head was considered a striking appearance because of its large body. He also became known for his habit of swimming through the Main every day in his early years in office .

On the 25th anniversary of the death of Friedrich Ebert on 28 February 1950, after was seized power away in 1933 from the cathedral monument in honor of the President by Kolb and the Hesse state premier Christian Stock consecrated. However, at the request of the sculptor, it was a new figure, although the old one has been preserved to this day.

At Kolb's suggestion and in cooperation with the Frankfurt Sports Office, the first Lohrbergfest took place in 1951 , the Frankfurt Mountain Sports Festival with purely athletic competitions for children and young people from Frankfurt sports clubs. After his death, the Walter Kolb Memorial Prize is awarded, a challenge cup. On May 31, 1953, on the occasion of the 3rd Lohrberg Festival, Kolb inaugurated the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn monument in Frankfurt on the competition area.

On March 18, 1954, Kolb was re-elected as Frankfurt Lord Mayor for a second term of twelve years. At this point, however, he was already suffering from severe diabetes and had suffered several heart attacks. After ten years in office, Walter Kolb died of heart failure . More than 100,000 people accompanied his funeral procession and proved his great popularity with the citizens of Frankfurt. He was buried in the Frankfurt main cemetery in a city grave of honor (Winning A 55a).

Posthumously, the late Walter Kolb gave the Frankfurt Social Democrats the best election result in their history in the 1956 local elections. They achieved 54.5 percent of the votes cast.

Other offices

DTB commemorative plaque for Walter Kolb at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Gym in Hamburg

In 1948 Walter Kolb brought the gymnastics festival to Frankfurt am Main, which was not called the German Gymnastics Festival again , but the modest Frankfurt Gymnastics Festival . After the Second World War, there was still a lack of a superordinate gymnastics association, but also corresponding permits from the Allies. The reorganization of the German Gymnastics Federation (DTB) was sought across the borders of the occupation zones. This was a political issue, as Directive 23 of the Allied Control Council of December 17, 1945 contradicted this goal . It dealt with the restriction and demilitarization of sports in Germany and banned all existing clubs in Germany. It was not until August 2, 1946, that ordinances were gradually created again in the US zone in order to be able to found associations at local level, which, however, did not take effect until January 1947. Superordinate associations have not yet been able to re-emerge. The newly formed German Gymnastics Working Committee (DAT) took on this challenge, Walter Kolb was appointed its chairman in 1949 and undertook various diplomatic and political advances. In 1950 the first attempt to re-establish the German Gymnastics Federation failed due to a veto by France in the Allied High Commission . On September 2, 1950, it succeeded - the founding meeting took place in the Paulskirche. Walter Kolb became chairman of the DTB, a role that he held until his death.

Kolb held the positions as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft Rhein-Main (VAG), as Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Flughafen Aktiengesellschaft Frankfurt / Main (FAG), which emerged from it in 1954, and was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe- und Ausstellung GmbH.


Kolb was a member of the Association of Religious Socialists in Germany .


Honorary grave in the main cemetery

In 1955 Kolb was awarded the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1957 the Walter Kolb oak was planted in the area west of the Paulskirche, a memorial plaque on the oak reminds of this. A school in Frankfurt-Unterliederbach in 1960 , a street in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen in 1967 , a settlement in Frankfurt-Preungesheim and in 1959 the Walter Kolb Foundation , whose headquarters are very close to St. Paul's Church, are named after him. The main ferry Höchst , which has been in operation since 1990 , also bears the name Walter Kolbs. There is also the International Walter Kolb Urban Development Prize . Since 1957, the Walter Kolb Memorial Prize for outstanding dissertations at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University has been awarded by the city ​​council and the city ​​council of Frankfurt. A portrait of the mayor by Wilhelm Runze , a Sossenheim painter, hangs in the foyer in front of the council chamber in Frankfurt's Römer town hall. A building in the Wegscheide school camp in Frankfurt is named Walter-Kolb-Haus. Sporting honors such as plaques (for voluntary workers at the association level), shields and trophies still bear his name to this day. On the occasion of his 100th birthday on January 22nd, 2002, a memorial plaque was unveiled on the outer facade of the Paulskirche.

In Morlautern , Langenfeld (Rhineland) , Ober-Roden , Reinheim Ot.Zeilhard and Bremerhaven there is a Walter-Kolb-Straße and Dr.-Walter-Kolb-Straße.


  • Call of the city of Frankfurt am Main to rebuild the Paulskirche , 1946.
  • Address and speech on the awarding of the Goethe Prize to Hermann Hesse , H. Cobet, 1946.
  • Frankfurt a. M. is building, Verlag Waldemar Kramer, Frankfurt am Main, 1947.
  • Five speeches by the mayor of Frankfurt, Walter Kolb , Verkehrs- u. Economic Office of the City of Frankfurt am Main (ed.), 1947.
  • Address by Walter Kolb on the awarding of the Goethe Prize to Fritz von Unruh in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt on August 28, 1948 , Waldemar Kramer, Frankfurt am Main, 1948.
  • Active city of Frankfurt , Verlag W. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main, 1949.
  • Frankfurt's economy is building! , Verlag W. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main, 1952.
  • The German cities and sport , lecture to the 5th general meeting of the German Association of Cities, Berlin, July 15, 1952, in: The Association of Cities. Vol. 5, 1952, Kohlhammer, 1952.
  • To the returned poet Fritz von Unruh , Verlag W. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main, 1953.
  • The rebirth of a city , special supplement of the Frankfurter Neue Presse, 1954.


  • Thomas Bauer: Be united for our city . Historisch-Archäologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main (Ed.), 1996.
  • Werner Bendix: The capital of the economic miracle . Dissertation, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz 2000/2001, p. 72.
  • Blue and major . In: Der Spiegel . No. 21 , 1948, p. 3-4 ( online - May 22, 1948 ).
  • Margot Felsch: From the top floor of the Römers - meetings with the mayors of Frankfurt Walter Kolb, Werner Bockelmann, Willi Brundert, Walter Möller, Rudi Arndt and Walter Wallmann . Verlag W. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 11 f., ISBN 978-3-7829-0252-6 .
  • Adolf Grimme: Speech by Mayor Dr. Walter Kolb on the awarding of the Goethe Prize to Thomas Mann . 1949, pp. 23-32.
  • Friedrich Heyer: Frankfurt am Main, a city in the country: With prefaces by Walter Kolb and Adolf Miersch . W. Kramer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1954.
  • Sabine Hock : Walter Kolb. Lord Mayor of the City of Frankfurt am Main 1946–1956 . Information sheet on an “Info Island” (“Frankfurt - where something new was created”) of the Walter Kolb Foundation, Frankfurt am Main 2001.
  • Sabine Hock: 1902–2002. On the 100th birthday of Walter Kolb: “Be united for our city.” Walter Kolb - Mayor of Frankfurt 1946–1956 - Flyer of the Walter Kolb Foundation, Frankfurt am Main 2001.
  • Hilmar Hoffmann : Dr. hc Walter Kolb. In: ders .: Frankfurt's Lord Mayor 1945–1995: A contribution to the city's cultural history. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-942921-89-3 , pp. 79-164.
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe University (ed.): Frankfurter Universitätsreden . Frankfurt am Main 1961, p. 21 f.
  • Helli Knoll: Walter Kolb . Arani, 1953.
  • Helli Knoll: Walter Kolb - a great Lord Mayor . Rütten & Löhning, 1956.
  • Franz Lerner:  Kolb, Walter. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1 , p. 444 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • 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. 307 ( [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 , pp. 222-223.
  • Walter Loöb: Frankfurt wants to live . Henrich, 1948.
  • Thomas Mann, Günter Mick, Albert Schweitzer, Fritz Unruh: Win peace . Verlag W. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 978-3-7829-0305-9 , pp. 65 f.
  • City administration of the City of Frankfurt am Main (Ed.): Lord Mayor Dr. hc Walter Kolb, 1902–1956 . Frankfurt am Main 1956.
  • Walter Kolb Foundation (ed.): Frankfurter Kunst at the time of Walter Kolb 1946–1956 . Frankfurt am Main 2002.

Web links

Commons : Walter Kolb  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Biography W. Kolb .
  2. Kolb, Walter on
  4. ^ Alfred Grosser in International Politics, February 2007 .
  5. ^ Victory Park – The confiscated stadium on
  6. ^ Documents on the history of Frankfurt's Jews 1933–1945 at
  7.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Departure for a democratic future , Hessischer Rundfunk.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  8. The reconstruction of the Friedrich-Ebert-Monument 1950 ,
  9. ^ Turnverein Seckbach 1875 # Lohrbergfest Turnverein Seckbach 1875, Lohrbergfest.
  10. ^ Lohrberg, Lohrberg Festival .
  11. Guide to the graves of well-known personalities in Frankfurt cemeteries, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 7.
  12. Archived copy ( memento of the original dated June 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Walter Kolb, Frankfurter Rundschau. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. ^ Sorg, Heinrich: From the zero hour to the founding of the German Sports Confederation , in: Jahrbuch des Sports 1955/56, Frankfurt am Main, 1955.
  14. ^ Woller, Hans: Society and Politics in the American Zone of Occupation, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1986, ISBN 978-3-486-53841-0 .
  15. Augustin, Sebastian: The reconstruction of sport in West Germany and the FRG after World War II , seminar paper, Deutsche Sporthochschule, Cologne, 2005, p. 5, ISBN 978-3-638-38538-1 .
  16. OMGUS to OMGB, August 2, 1946, in: StA Nürnberg, LRA Fürth (1962), No. 106a.
  17. OMGUS to MinPrés Hoegner, August 16, 1946, in: StA Nürnberg, LRA Fürth (1962), No. 106a.
  18. ^ Bay. Ministry of the Interior to all regional presidents, November 22, 1946, in: StA Nürnberg, LRA Fürth (1962), No. 106a.
  19. Leaflet of the LRA Fürth, January 23, 1947, in: StA Nürnberg, LRA Fürth (1962), No. 106a.
  20. ^ Bay. Ministry of the Interior to all regional presidents, June 30, 1947, in: StA Nürnberg, LRA Fürth (1962), No. 106a.
  21. ^ Hock, Sabine: 1902–2002. On the 100th birthday of Walter Kolb: “Be united for our city.” Walter Kolb - Mayor of Frankfurt 1946–1956 . Flyer from the Walter Kolb Foundation, Frankfurt am Main, December 2001.
  22. ^ Heinrich Schleich: Community for Christianity and Socialism - Association of Religious Socialists in Germany EV in: Frankfurter Kirchliches Jahrbuch 1958, Frankfurt 1958.
  23. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from September 28, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Walter Kolb shield of the German Gymnastics Federation for 125th anniversaries of gymnastics clubs. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  24. Excerpt from Google Maps, 64354 Reinheim-Zeilhard. Accessed November 14, 2017 (German).