Hans Kohnert

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Hans Kohnert
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Born(1887-11-15)15 November 1887
Kingdom of Hanover Germany
Died16 January 1967(1967-01-16) (aged 79)
Bremerhaven, Germany
  • Entrepreneur
  • senator
  • Wehrwirtschaftsführer
  • Painter
  • Patron

Hans Kohnert (born 15 November 1887 in Geestemünde; died 10 January 1967 in Bremerhaven) was a German entrepreneur, senator, Wehrwirtschaftsführer, painter and patron in Bremerhaven.


Hans Kohn's parents were Franz Kohn (1857–1909) and his wife Johanna Margarethe, née Gehrels (1862–1925). The ancestors were captains and owners of emigrant sailing ships that brought emigrants from Brake and Bremerhaven at the lower Weser river to America in the 19th century and carried out overseas trade on their way back via the Caribbean. With the advent of the steamship in the 1850s, the business became unprofitable. Hans Kohn's grandfather settled down and bought into a timber import company. Hans Kohn first studied art painting (1906/07) in the 'Class of Antiquities' of Max Thedy at the Grand-Ducal Saxon Art School, Weimar. After the premature death of his father (1909), Hans dropped out of his art studies at the age of 22 to take over his father's company, the wood importing and processing company Pundt & Kohn (P & K) in Bremerhaven|Geestemünde . He developed the company to one of the most important and oldest companies in this branch on the Lower Weser up to World War II and led it until his death in 1967.[1]

In 1912 he married Maria Kohn, née Müller (1890–1945), with whom he had a son (Franz) and a daughter (Hannemarie). He divorced in the mid-1930s. In his second marriage, Kohnert was married from 1939 to Ingeborg Kohnert, née Neumann (1911–1990), with whom he had another daughter (Johanna). Due to hostility because of his Jewish-sounding family name (Kohn, Cohn) during the reign of Nazi Germany he applied for a name change from Kohn to Kohnert in 1937 for himself, his family and his company. This was duly apostilled on August 14, 1937.


The wood importing and wood processing company Pundt & Kohn, founded by his grandfather in 1863, including the company's sawmills and planing mills, which also operated under the denomination Geestemünder Holzindustriewerke Backhaus & Co., in Bremerhaven —one of the most important and oldest companies in this branch on the lower Weser–experienced its heyday under Hans Kohn(ert).

During World War II the factory, the wood storage and office and residential buildings on the Geeste river, the timber harbor of Geestemünde, the old companie's port and the lumber wharf at Schönianstrasse and Borriesstrasse (Geestemünde) were destroyed by Allied bombers during the night of the Strategic bombing of Bremerhaven (September 18, 1944)[2] .The company was never able to recover from the destruction in the post-war period. After the death of his elder brother, Gerhard Kohnert, in 1962, Hans Kohnert took over the furniture industry Meller Möbelfabrik (MMM) as well, which had been founded by Gerhard in 1909 in Melle, Germany|Melle near Osnabrück. After the war, the latter had already been closely linked to the timber import company (P & K) through a profit transfer agreement (1956–1966), which contributed to the fact that MMM did not made the necessary investment and modernize to cope with the fierce completion in this market. In 1966, in order to forestall liquiation, MMM was sold to the main creditors. In January 1975, MMM finally went bankrupt under the new owners.[3] The company Pundt & Kohn in Bremerhaven was dissolved after Hans Kohnert's death in 1967.

Further activities

In addition to his entrepreneurial activity, Hans Kohnert became known beyond local borders for his political and voluntary work. Hans Kohnert was among others member of the supervisory board of Bremer Landesbank Kreditanstalt Oldenburg | Bremer Landesbank and Geestemünder Bank (1941–1967; Chairman: 1951–1967). In World War I Hans Kohn served as a naval officer of the III. Marine Artillery Department at Bremerhaven-Lehe (belonging to the 1st Marine Division of the German Army (German Empire). He served mainly in Fort Brinkamahof III near Weddewarden / Imsum. The fort was constantly manned during World War I, but–like all forts on the Lower Weser–never involved in combat operations. In the last year of the war, 1917/18, First Lieutenant Kohn took part in the Battle of the Lys (1918) | Third Battle of Flanders as a company commander.[4][5] On the occasion of the sailors' uprising in Bremerhaven during the German Revolution of 1918–1919 (November Revolution of 1918) Hans Kohn had to withdrew from public life for some time and devoted himself to painting. That his oeuvre has not yet been included in the canon of local artists from Bremerhaven and the surrounding area, like Klaus Bemmer or Paul Ernst Wilke, was probably due to the fact that the paintings are almost exclusively in private ownership or were destroyed by the effects of the war.[6][7]

For Hans Kohnert, the guiding principle of Hanseatic League|Hanseatic merchants that had also shaped his father's actions applied: A businessman should not only think about his business and making money, he also has a responsibility to fulfill the common good. His father was a senator in Bremerhaven|Geestemünde from 1898 until his death. Fifteen years later, Hans Kohn(ert) carried the same title. Moreover, he became honorary member of the magistrate of Bremerhaven|Wesermünde for the united bourgeoisie on December 1, 1924 and held this position until 1929.[8] Shortly after the Nazism|National Socialists came to power (1933), Hans Kohn ran for president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) Bremerhaven and was elected against the votes of the Nazi Party | NSDAP. In 1938 he joined the NSDAP (retroactively from 1937), which awarded him the Golden Party Badge for his services to the Bremerhaven economy. According to his own statement, this happened under pressure from Walter Gravenhorst, the then NSDAP-Chairman of the NS-tribunal of the Administrative divisions of Nazi Germany|Gau Hannover-Ost (from May 1932) to protect the IHK from further attacks by the NSDAP.[9]

From 1933 to 1945 Hans Kohn(ert) was President of the Chamber of Commerce of Bremerhaven. He was also appointed Wehrwirtschaftsführer (1941–1945) and President of the newly created Chamber of Commerce of the 'Gau' of East Hanover (1943–1945), to which the cities of Bremerhaven|Wesermünde and Lüneburg, including their IHK, were incorporated (1939).[10] "For his successful endeavor to protect the Chamber from state attacks", Kohnert was appointed Honorary President of the IHK in 1951[11][12]

After the end of World War II, the American occupying power issued Hans Kohnert a two-year professional ban (1945-1947) and temporarily confiscated his company assets. During this time he lived in a makeshift home in Drangstedt because his own villa in Geestemünde had been destroyed during the 1944 bomb raid, and he devoted himself to painting.

Hans Kohnert resumed timber imports in 1948 and moved to the position of chairman in the supervisory board of the "Geestemünder Bank", to which he had been elected a member since 1941. He took part, albeit more in the background, in political and social events. So he chaired the associations for the promotion of the reconstruction of the city theater of Bremerhaven and the establishment of the city baths. Kohnert's death also meant a great loss for the United Protestant Congregation of Bremerhaven's Mayor Smidt Memorial Church, which appointed him to its church council in 1949. Since 1950 he had belonged to the three house builders. Hans Kohnert represented his congregation in the "Bremischer Kirchentag" (church congress) from 1951 to 1964. Prior to this, in the 1920s, Kohnert had chaired the charity organization "Geestemünder Ferienkolonie" to give schoolchildren in need free vacations. Besides, he provided a the school camp in Bad Bederkesa.


  • Honorary President of the Bremerhaven Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) since 1951
  • Honorary member of the Heritage Association of the Männer vom Morgenstern ('Men from the Morning Star').


  • Paul Hirschfeld: Hannovers Grossindustrie und Grosshandel. ed.: Deutschen Export-Bank, Berlin / Duncker u. Humblot, Leipzig, XVI, 1891, 412 p
  • Julius Marchet: Der Holzhandel Norddeutschlands. Publisher: F. Deuticke, Leipzig Wien 1908.
  • Fritz Thienst: Aus der Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung in den Unterweserorten. SPD, Wesermünde 1930, 251 p. incl. immages; Stadtarchiv Bremerhaven; here: "Ausschnittskopie über den im Nov. 1918 in Bremerhaven eingerichteten Arbeiter- und Soldatenrat", pp. 143–159.
  • Klaus Drobisch: Dokumente über Vorgeschichte und Charakter des faschistischen Wehrwirtschaftsfüher-Korps. In: Zeitschrift für Militärgeschichte vol. 5, 1966, pp. 323–337
  • Nachruf auf den verstorbenen Hans Kohnert. In: Nordsee-Zeitung, Bremerhaven 12 January 1967
  • Burchhard Scheper: Die jüngere Geschichte der Stadt Bremerhaven. Bremerhaven: Magistrat der Stadt Bremerhaven (ed.)
  • Harry Gabcke: Hans Kohnert vor 100 Jahren geboren. In: Niederdeutsches Heimatblatt, newsletter of the association 'Männer vom Morgenstern' (MvM). Bremerhaven, November 1987, No. 455.
  • Rainer Schulze: Unternehmerische Selbstverwaltung und Politik – Die Rolle der Industrie- und Handelskammern in Niedersachsen und Bremen als Vertretung der Unternehmerinteressen nach dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Publisher: August Lax, Hildesheim 1988
  • Hartmut Bickelmann: Von Geestendorf nach Geestemünde – Räumlicher, gewerblicher und sozialer Strukturwandel im Umkreis des Geestermünder Holzhafens. In: Männer vom Morgenstern. Yearbook No. 75, 1996, pp. 149–235
  • Hartmut Bickelmann (ed.): Bremerhavener Persönlichkeiten aus vier Jahrhunderten. Ein biographisches Lexikon. 2nd extended and updated edition. Bremerhaven 2003, pp. 172–174.
  • IHK (2000): 125 Jahre IHK-Bremerhaven; 1925–1950, Liberal auch in schwierigen Zeiten. Bremerhaven. Publisher: Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK), anniversary publication.


  1. Der Maler Hans Kohnert. In: Zeitreise an der Küste (journey through time on the coast), exhibition online November 2020, Historical Museum, Bremerhaven
  2. Heinrich Kloppenburg: The disaster night of Bremerhaven (Wesermünde) on September 18, 1944 (episode 1 & 2). Bremerhaven. PSM-data, history, primary literature; zum.de accessed on May 26, 2015.
  3. Filed for bankruptcy. Production is suspended in the Meller furniture factory. In: Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung | Meller Kreisblatt. January 23, 1975
  4. Source: Research in the military archive, Freiburg, Archival materials used from the research on site (selection): RM 121-I/620, Titel: Flandern; RM 121-I/626, Titel: top secret; RM 121-I/638, Titel: Exercises in the ward area
  5. quod vide: (1) Scherer, Wingolf (ed.)(2009): Wandel – Die verstummte Begeisterung. Flandern 1914–1918: Briefe Aufzeichnungen und Fotos eines Seesoldaten des Marinekorps in Flandern. Verlag: Helios
  6. Elke Grapenthin: "Artists in Bremerhaven and surrounding areas 1827–1990." Verlag HM Hauschild, Bremen 1991, ISBN 3-926598-40-9
  7. Der Maler Hans Kohnert. In: Zeitreise an der Küste (journey through time on the coast), exhibition online November 2020, Historical Museum, Bremerhaven
  8. Obituary in: Nordsee-Zeitunung 12 January 1967
  9. Timpke, Henning (1970): Das KL Fuhlsbüttel. In: Studien zur Geschichte der Konzentrationslager, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, S. 20
  10. Negotiations of the main denazification committee of the city of Hanover; AZ: RIS VE: 3522, Kult, dated October 2, 1948.
  11. from: "125 years of the IHK- Bremerhaven"; 1925-1950, Liberal even in difficult times, IHK, Bremernhaven
  12. "Hans Kohn als Präsident der Industrie- und Handelskammer", exhibition online (10/20) October 2020, Zeitreisen an der Küste, Historisches Museum, Bremerhaven

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