Malte Leimbach

Born 1995 in Detmold, Germany
High school student (Gymnasium Leopoldinum, Detmold)

"The scandals surrounding Wilhelm Gräfer over the course of time and through the vicissitudes of society" (2011)

Wilhelm Gräfer was mayor of the town of Lemgo before and until the end of World War II. When the American troops came to town in 1945 he approached those troops and started negotiating the surrender of the town with them so that Lemgo would not be bombarded and destroyed. Since Gräfer did not have any military power he spoke to a German army commander. The commander believed Gräfer had acted inappropriately and immediately arrested Gräfer, then brought him before a court martial. The appointed judges decided Gräfer was guilty of betrayal and he was executed the following day.

Gräfer was regarded as the saviour and hero of Lemgo who had sacrificed himself for the town and its people. Until a group of students in the 80s revealed Gräfer's support for the Nazis which caused a big scandal in Lemgo. Malte and two fellow students researched the change in attitude in Lemgo towards Gräfer. They used a lot of newspaper articles, looked at primary documents in archives, and interviewed members of city council. "Before we started our research we were not aware of how drastically society and peoples' way to deal with their past has changed since 1945", Malte and his colleagues wrote.

Malte Leimbach, Maria Junker, and Jan Schmelter were awarded first prize for their research in the German history competition focusing on "Scandals in History"

Click here to read a longer version of this research paper (PDF)
Click here to read the complete research paper online (in German)

Go back