Johannes Böckling
Stephanstrasse 62

Stumbling block stories in Krefeld

Resistance based on Christian conviction

Johannes Böckling was born on 18.06.1908 in Krefeld as the oldest son of Johannes and Adelheid Böckling. Johannes Böckling sen. was co-owner of the furniture factory J.A. Böckling, which was located on Vinzenzstraße, had its own shop in the house at Rheinstraße 29-31 and employed around 300 people. Johannes Böckling junior had two siblings, sister Adele, born in 1910, and brother Bruno, born in 1924.

Since 1923 the Böckling family lived in the house at Gerberstraße 30 and economic difficulties led to the factory having to close in the spring of 1927. Johannes Böckling sen. died shortly afterwards in June 1927. Johannes jun. had gone to Munich in March 1927 and started an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker. After an interruption due to the death of his father, he continued his apprenticeship, followed by a commercial apprenticeship. In April 1931 he returned to Krefeld.

Böckling had been Catholic and active as a boy scout. After his return from Munich he started to get politically involved and joined the youth of the Bund, the "Pfadfinderschaft Westmark - Jungnationaler Bund", founded by Dr. Hans Ebeling. In his family it is a tradition that Johannes Böckling was guided by a Christian attitude in his following activities.

Ebeling, born and still resident in Krefeld, had been an officer in the First World War. After that he had fought as a member of the Reichswehr against the red army of the Ruhr. Since the beginning of the 1920s he had been a leading member of the "Jungnationale Bund" (Junabu). After studying economics Ebeling worked as a journalist, since 1930 as co-editor of the magazine "Der Vorkämpfer". In the political spectrum of the Weimar Republic Ebeling and his group were assigned to the so-called national revolutionaries. These "left-wing people from the right" had a political right-wing attitude and were strictly national. On the other hand they welcomed the development in the Soviet Union and were selectively ready to cooperate with communists.

Probably already shortly after his accession Johannes Böckling was one of the leading members of the group besides Ebeling. As the National Bolsheviks were, despite some points of contact, quite anti-national-socialist, they immediately came into the police's field of vision after the so-called seizure of power in spring 1933. In February 1933 house searches were carried out and weapons were found. Ebeling, Böckling and some others were arrested but were soon released.

In the first period of the Nazi regime Ebeling tried to keep his organisation together and to operate as far as possible underground. But this did not succeed. The group was under constant observation by the Gestapo, the mail of the members was controlled. On 11.01.1934, the 11th anniversary of the French invasion, the Pfadfinderschaft Westmark officially disbanded. Ebeling managed to escape to the Netherlands in August 1934 shortly before his arrest.

In September 1934 Johannes Böckling married Adelgunde Vieten, born in Krefeld in 1902. From a first marriage she had a little daughter. Adelgunde was also active in the group. The family now lived in the house at Stephanstraße 62, but Böckling still maintained an office in his parents' house at Gerberstraße, from where he tried to continue the business of the Federation in secret. Via couriers he kept in touch with Hans Ebeling in the Netherlands, via letters to the followers of the group throughout the Reich. But due to the extensive control the Gestapo was informed about almost all steps and now they struck.

According to Albert Eickhoff, a member of the Bund from Krefeld, Johannes Böckling was arrested in Cologne on 8 September 1935. There he should have received a message, but the meeting had been betrayed by an informer. Böckling was handed over to the Düsseldorf Gestapo and interrogated there under terrible mistreatment. The following day the Krefeld members were arrested, among them Adelgunde Böckling, and were then also taken to the Düsseldorf police prison. Those arrested from other cities were also brought there, eventually a total of 21 people.

During the interrogations that followed, there was further massive abuse of some of the arrested persons, among them Johannes Böcklings. All those arrested remained in remand. Contemporary witnesses report that one reason for the arrests was a plan by the group to assassinate Hitler at the planned inauguration of the Uerdingen Rhine bridge.

In June 1937 the trial against 21 Junabu members began at the People's Court in Essen. The charge was "preparation for high and national treason". Nine of the accused, including Adelgunde Böckling, had already been put out of prosecution in March 1936 for lack of evidence. Johannes Böckling, one of the main defendants, was threatened with the death penalty. The trial was intended primarily to deter and intimidate opposition supporters of the youth of the Alliance. On the other hand, Hans Ebeling succeeded in organising an extensive protest campaign in Belgium, Great Britain and the Netherlands, which among other things led to the British government officially inquiring about the Essen trial.

Probably not least this protest led to the fact that Johannes Böckling was not sentenced to death but received a 12-year prison sentence. But this was by far the highest sentence. Four proceedings had still been discontinued, seven defendants received lower prison sentences. One defendant from Krefeld, Dr. Wegerhoff, had mysteriously died during his remand in custody.

The following years Johannes Böckling spent in the Düsseldorf penitentiary Ulmer Höhe. His brother Bruno visited him there at the end of 1942. According to his memories Johannes Böckling was emaciated at this time and showed stigmata as if he had been beaten. On 7.01.1943 Johannes Böckling died in prison. An exact cause of death was not given.

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