The “angel of the plassenburg” dies under the guillotine

The 'angel of the plassenburg' dies under the guillotine

"The potsdam pewter angel on the flight to plassenburg", so it says under a comic, which shows a winged man with a briefcase thickly filled with money, on the "clio" stands. Then continues: "like all good institutions in the world, the german pewter figurine museum at plassenburg castle has a guardian angel. Unfortunately, however, he resides in potsdam, far away …"

Amusing picture

The amusing picture from the "news of the friends of the plassenburg" alludes to the publisher august bonneb. It is mainly thanks to him that the plassenburg today houses an internationally important collection in the form of the german pewter figurine museum.

In the late 1920s, bonneb was a constant in kulmbach. He wanted to contribute to the proud hohenzollern fortress being transformed into a place of culture after 110 years of being a forced laborer’s house, a prison camp for russian and french officers during the first world war, and a prison again.

The rough upheaval

1927/28 the upheaval takes place: the administration of the state palace, garden and lakes sets about removing the zuchthaus relics and renovating the rooms.

A youth hostel moves into the arsenal building as late as 1927. In order to discuss how the castle could become a magnet for the public in the long term, hans hacker set up a committee with very knowledgeable members: the historian fritz limmer from kulmbach, the castle researcher bodo ebhardt from braubach and bonneb. The first step was taken in 1928 with the founding of the "friends of the plassenburg" association decided, at the same time the "federation of french artists" is constituted, who exhibits at the castle for the first time in 1929. Bonneb, the man from potsdam who grew up with the history of prussia and the german empire, pursues more ambitious plans. He wanted to link the old hohenzollern fortress of plassenburg to the rough, the national history.

At 1.61 meters, the very short man with a stocky build and double chin is a bundle of energy. He is full of ideas, humorous and friendly. As a co-owner of a large publishing house, you have many contacts and considerable financial resources. His enthusiasm for pewter sculptures as well as shelters is contagious, so the kulmbach planning committee supports his efforts.

Cannons or pewter figures?

First of all he thinks of building a german artillery museum on the plassenburg in the rough style of paris or madrid. The heavy armor models were to be placed in the protected courtyard, and the light artillery on the floors of the arsenal building. But the attempt fails, because the static examination of the intermediate ceilings shows that they could not withstand the load of the original protection.

Bonneb then came up with the idea of setting up models of famous fortifications, garnished with dioramas of tin figures. But even this project is not pursued further, because in the fall of 1930, during the first international exhibition of pewter figures in leipzig, bonneb succeeds in creating the "clio"-to win over members for the plassenburg as the location for the planned german pewter figurine museum. In september 1932, it is inaugurated with a proud 40 dioramas.

Standing up to the nazis

Bonneb does not experience directly how the national socialists take possession of the castle after 1933, because he has to fight for his own publishing house. After the death of his father in 1917, he becomes co-owner of one of the largest publishing houses in potsdam. The company’s success is based on its "correspondence courses", which met with intense demand throughout the reich. Materials are offered for self-study in many fields – modern foreign languages, law, civil service law, musicology or technical training. The publishing house also puts gastronomy guides on the market, the first in the german empire.

When the nazis come to power in 1933, bonneb categorically refuses to print nazi propaganda, unlike his two companions. Even more: he openly criticizes the nazi policy and exposes the brown rulers in front of company employees and in the "kasino society" laughable.

Joke comes before the court

One of those "jokes is later tried in court: "among the ancient germanic tribes, there was a useful rule: the tribal chiefs fought against each other. Hitler and stalin should do the same, the people will be spared a lot of trouble."

The publisher is denounced by a lawyer and subsequently arrested by the gestapo at his vacation home in bad elster in august 1943. After months of interrogations, the trial before the brandenburg higher regional court takes place in february 1944. Bonneb is rehabilitated according to the "heimtuckegesetz" sentenced to death "for having attempted to destroy the german will for self-assertion through defeatist speeches".

Freisler holds the presidency

"Clio"-friends succeed in getting justice minister thierack to resume proceedings. The takes place on 8. July 1944 at the berlin volksgerichtshof held.

The presidency is led by the famous roland freisler. His perfidiousness lies in the fact that he seems to exonerate. According to the court record: "he was always interested in the german idea of defense and created the famous tin soldier museum at the plassenburg, which, as he says, now consists of more than 250,000 figurines. Bonneb emphasized the fact that among these is a lifelike diagram of the nurnberg party congress and the potsdam act of state."

On the other hand, freisler finds "evidence", that the publisher is a "high degree mason had maintained conspiratorial contacts with jewish collectors. On 8. July 1944: the final death sentence is passed, on july 4, 1944. December bonneb is executed with the guillotine in the gorden penitentiary in brandenburg. The shares in the company are taken from his family and given to one of his partners, a party member.

Bonneb is not rehabilitated until decades after the war (1998). In potsdam, a street commemorates the "pewter figure angel the plassenburg, in kulmbach nothing.

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