Wilhelm Lesser

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Wilhelm Lesser (born May 9, 1812 in Copenhagen , † February 11, 1889 in Kiel ) was a civil servant, railway director and politician.



After attending school in Rendsburg , Lesser studied law at the University of Kiel on April 25, 1831 , where he became a member of the closer association of fraternities . On October 27, 1832, he moved to Heidelberg University for further studies , where he became a member of the closer association of Heidelberg Germania. In Heidelberg he had contacts with participants in the storm on the Frankfurt Hauptwache on April 3, 1833. After returning to Kiel University, interrogations took place about his Heidelberg fraternity activities. In 1838 Lesser completed his studies with the examination in Schleswig law.

Activity in Copenhagen

In 1838 Lesser began his professional life as a trainee in the German Secretariat of the Pension Chamber in Copenhagen. On March 2, 1841, he was appointed general representative in the expedition office for Schleswig affairs, and on January 11, 1843, he was also appointed secretary of the Royal Railway Commission. In 1844 he became chamber councilor and head of the expedition office for Schleswig matters.

Schleswig-Holstein War

On March 24, 1848, Lesser resigned his office in Copenhagen and joined the Provisional Government in Kiel under Wilhelm Beseler as head of the Bureau for Financial Matters. After the defeat in the Schleswig-Holstein War and the conquest of Schleswig by the Danes, he lost his job and had to leave Schleswig.


From mid-1852 Lesser was the office manager of the Thuringian Railway Company in Erfurt . In 1860 he became director of the Thuringian Railway Company. On July 1, 1864, he became 1st Scholar Senator in Kiel.

Return to Schleswig

After Prussia's victory in the German-Danish War , Wilhelm Lesser returned to Schleswig and on September 14, 1864 became chairman of the Holstein government, responsible for finances. He was appointed royal Danish commissioner for the Holstein assembly of estates, appointed by the Austrian governor, Major General Ludwig Karl Wilhelm von Gablenz .

On June 11, 1866, his dismissal took place at the Holstein Estates meeting in Itzehoe by Prussian officers on the orders of Lieutenant General Edwin von Manteuffel , the Prussian governor of the Duchy of Schleswig .

Mayor of Wandsbek

On March 14, 1870, he was elected mayor of Wandsbek and held this office for twelve years until May 22, 1882.


His godparents were Etatrat Ewers, Counselor Schmith-Ruseldeck, Counselor Stehn, Counselor Joachim Otto Friedrich Spies (1780–1844), Mrs. Lütchen and Miss Emilie Kirstein. His father Johann Joachim Gottfried (1771–1833) was Rittmeister in 1812, later colonel in the Danish General Staff, and in 1832 postmaster in Kiel. His mother was Anna Amelie Caroline von Plato (1778-1834).

On March 29, 1843, he got his first marriage to Maria Louise Lehmann (1819-1848) in Copenhagen. Her brother Orla Lehmann was a representative of the movement from Denmark to the Eider and in 1848 Danish minister, she herself was the daughter of deputy Martin Christian Gottlieb Lehmann and Louise Friederike Bech. His sons Karl Ludwig Martin Gottfried (* 1844) and Wilhelm Otto Waldemar (* 1847) went to America and are later missing. The daughter Friederike Louise (1846–1904) was a teacher in Kiel.

His second marriage, on April 19, 1860 in Erfurt, with Johanna Margarethe Pfeiffer (1824–1912), daughter of the businessman Jonas Friedrichs Pfeiffer and Anna Juliane Lameyer in Erfurt, remained childless.


Wilhelm Lesser received the Commander's Cross of the Austrian Order of Franz Joseph on August 22, 1866 for his commitment to Holstein and Austrian interests. On November 4, 1887, Lesser was made an honorary citizen of Wandsbek. Wandsbek's first honorary citizen was his colleague in the Holstein government of Franz Christoph Reimers , the next honorary citizen after Wilhelm in 1891 was Otto Fürst von Bismarck . On December 16, 1890, Lesserstraße in Wandsbek was named after him. The oil painting of him commissioned by the magistrate is now hanging in the Museum of Hamburg History .


  • Topography of the Duchy of Schleswig, Carl Schröder Verlag, Kiel 1853


  • Crime: High treason in investigative matters against the jur.stud. Wilhelm von Lesser and the jur.stud. Carl Ernst Emil von Lesser, both from Copenhagen, because of participation in the fraternity that passed here, Grand Ducal University Office Heidelberg, disciplinary matters, VIII, 1 No. 155, 1833, Heidelberg University Archives,
  • Curriculum vitae of Wilhelm Lesser (received on May 31, 1838) Embedsansøgninger, Rentekammerte, Tyske Secretariat 1660–1848, Reichsarchiv Copenhagen,
  • Dismissal request, Dept. 66, No. 6070, Schleswig-Holstein State Archives,
  • Annual report of the direction of the Thuringian Railway Company Vol. I 1845–1857, Vol. II 1858–1868 under 1/35 (97), Reichsbahndirektion Erfurt, administrative archive,
  • Commander's Cross, award of the same to Wilhelm Lesser, administration registry F 46/60, House, Court and State Archives Vienna,
  • Wandsbek municipal minutes, IIa2, Volumes 1 and 2, Hamburg State Archives,
  • Personal file of Wilhelm Lesser, call number 422-12, IL 15, Hamburg State Archives, / Schleswig: Dept. 309 No. 309,


  • Heinz Kiecksee: Holstein 1864. Holstein and its peripheral areas in the German-Danish War 1864 . Matthiesen Publishing House, Lübeck 1964.
  • Friedrich Puvogel: Wandsbek in the second half of the nineteenth century. Local historical records . In: Wandsbeker Bote. Kreisblatt for the urban district of Wandsbek , vol. 41 (1900) and vol. 42 (1901).
  • Gisela Jaacks : faces and personalities. Inventory catalog of the painting collection in the Museum of Hamburg History , Vol. 1: Oil paintings, pastels, miniatures, watercolors and drawings . MHG, Hamburg 1992.