The year 1900 must have been very successful for the 1st citizen company. At the end of the 19th century two champion shots had been put in place.
Since then more than 100 years have been passed and we don’t know that much of the life, the efforts and events of the 1st citizen company of Minden.
During the two world wars a lot of documents have been lost. That’s the reason the chronicler needs to start the history after World War II.
“The 1st (company) is always the first!”
This is the motto of the 1st citizen company in the Minden citizen battalion since many years. Also we are called the “cornflower bearer” of the coal bank (right banks of the river Weser).
The old cashbook of the 1st company for the years 1876 to 1945 concludes with the entry:
“In the year 1945 the Minden Citizen Battalion has been disbanded by the occupying power. We are quite confident that this won’t last for a longer time!”
“The cash balance has been checked and approved on April, 1st 1945.”
(Captain Theodor Sieckmann)
Another attachment says:
“Pay in on the 28th of August 1948: 192. – RM from the 1st citizen company.”
At those bitter times the above made statements were future-orientating.
Since 1929 Theodor Sieckmann was the captain of the 1st citizen company. He was assisted by company sergeant Wilhelm Ankelen since 1935. Ankelen had taken over from company sergeant Arthur Bolze.
Both of them tried to maintain the company life with only a few comrades during war times. A lot of comrades were obliged to war service. The remaining comrades met for shooting trainings, social meetings, private events and Christmas parties.
After the collapse of the third empire and the disbandment of the citizen battalion, members of the 1st company met only in non-official meetings for discussions, singing, playing ninepin or gymnastic exercises. Those meetings had to be top secret. All members of the 1st company still had a close relationship.
At last the Allied High Commission cancelled the strict regulations for political parties, clubs and assemblies in spring 1950.
Courageous men, even of the 1st company, now met officially to guide this time-honored institution to a new era and to find back to old traditions. This was rather amazing after a lost world war.
In 1950 the club “Mindener Bürgerbataillon e.V.” has been founded. This was followed by the distribution of the companies to their quarters, as it was before World War II. Even in the 1st company an active company life had been resumed.
The first company meetings were held. The first “Freischießen” (traditional shooting competition) after the war was planned and held.
This first “Freischießen” after the war was a great success even for the population. The participants were bearing a wooden stick instead of a rifle. Bearing of any kind of weapons was not allowed at that time. Nobody had expected such a great resonance.
At that time the official invitations expressed:
“ It’s a matter of honor for all comrades to take part in all events of the company!”
This motto will be valid even for the 21st century!
In 1951 the 1st company was handed over from Captain Theodor Sieckmann to Captain Hermann Petersen. Due to the reason that Captain Petersen moved to Herford (a city approx. 30 Km away from Minden) the company was taken over by Captain Karl Sieckmann on the 15th of February 1954.
A heyday started for the 1st company. The company got in touch with other clubs in their district and new and young members were recruited for this time-honored institution. The slogan: “ The 1st is always the first” derives from this time.
Wilhelm Ankelen was appointed to be the company sergeant until 1956. It is due to him holding the comrades together during and after World War II. He held this position for more than 21 years to the welfare of the 1st company.
Jupp Plös was appointed to be his successor. Unfortunately he couldn’t perform his duty. He died completely unexpected 3 weeks after his appointment.
So Hermann Tüscher took over the duty as the “mother of the company”. He put in a lot of efforts for the 1st company and his engagement was self-sacrificing. His human but strict nature was exactly what was needed by the comrades. He was company sergeant, secretary and cashier in one person. That would be unthinkable today.
The following reminiscences are dated from that time:
To save the money for the postage, the youngest member of the company had to deliver postal cards and invitations for the company. At that time the postage for a letter was 6 “Pfennige”. The subscription fee was 50 “Pfennige” per month and was collected on company meetings.
In 1963 Hermann Kreienberg was appointed as the company sergeant and took over from Hermann Tüscher.
1964 Heinz Droste became the champion shot and he was the first champion for the last 30 years. We were very proud of him.
1965 and after a term of 11 years Captain Sieckmann handed over the company to Klaus Marowsky. Captain Marowsky started his duty with new visions to continue and to complement the great performance of Captain Sieckmann. For the company and the battalion Captain Marowsky was an unconventional thinker, which means, he gave us new suggestions, innovations and modifications. Those things were a blessing for the whole community. His maxim was:“ Tradition means to march with progress!”
“ We need several innovations, if we want the battalion as a living part of our community. There can be no doubt that tradition doesn’t end in itself. Tradition will not be maintained by itself. If you want to take care for tradition on a wide-spread basis, like we do, we have to fill in that tradition with life and we have to handle that with responsibility. The protection of tradition will be only successful with the trustful co-operation with the council and administration of the city of Minden.”
In 1968 our chief and Captain of the company, Klaus Marowsky, became the champion of the shooting competition. With cheers of his comrades he was led through Bäckerstraße (downtown) to the town hall, where he was inaugurated as the King of the “Freischießen”.
One of his innovations was the official prelude to the “Freischießen”. This event has been celebrated only from the 1st company and started at that time on the premises of the Höltkemeyer-Company (today it’s the headquarter of the Preuß-Company) at Viktoria Street.
The 1st company looks at this still celebrated event as a social task. The intention was to establish and consolidate the relationship to the population of Minden. This party was a great success and since then it will be celebrated every two years two weeks before the “Freischießen” starts.
In the course of this urban tradition and old institutions a stress less togetherness has been developed. Captain Marowsky led the company until 1971 then Captain Kurt Falke took over until 1980.
At the beginning of the 80ies a new and modern badge was created for the 1st citizen company. It shows the stylized cornflower . Above the flower it shows the arch of the old bridge connecting both banks of the river Weser.
In 1971 a female sutler became a member of the 1st company. A company choir had been founded. Unfortunately the choir doesn’t exist anymore.
The same year the inauguration of the northern bridge over the river Weser took place. The 6th company was involved in the festival of inauguration. To take part of this inauguration was the idea of Heinrich Fromme. From that time on his name was changed into “Bridge-Heinrich”.
On the suggestion of Captain Falke a new flag was acquired. A lot of donations made it possible. The new flag was consecrated in 1972. The old one was stored in the Minden museum.
Another modification happened in 1972. The fairground for the above mentioned prelude before the “Freischießen” moved from Viktoria Street to a place close to the old fortress “Fort C”. This place is called “Under the Oaks”. The comrades were responsible for cleaning the place up, installing lanes, constructing a children’s playground and arranging benches. Today the festival and the place is a fixed part of the coal bank.
After the position of the “Company-Sergeant” has moved to Hermann Kreienberg, the tasks within the company became a new structure. Besides the position of the Company Sergeant we became the new positions secretary and cashier at the end of the 60ies.
In 1973 Hermann Kreienberg handed over his position as a Company-Sergeant to Karl Backhaus until 1982. For the upcoming festival “Freischießen” Manfred Kambartel was appointed to that position on a provisional basis.
Already in 1980 Johann-Wilhelm Moelle had taken over the position as the Chief of the Company.
In autumn 1982 a new Company-Sergeant, Adolf Boje, was appointed.
The reform of the urban area in 1973 expanded the area of the city of Minden and a lot of suburbs were now embedded.
Relations to the clubs on the right riverbank of the river Weser were established, especially to the clubs of the suburbs of Dankersen, Aminghausen and Leteln.
The 1st Company conducts their shooting training on the shooting stand of that club.
Since the beginning of the 80ies the 1st Company was looking for an adequate fixed quarters. Various negotiations had to be conducted, decisions in several company meetings had to be made and were condemned again. So it wasn’t easy to find a solution. After the handing over of the company from J.-W. Moelle to Jürgen Westphal in 1990 a solution could be found.
Since 1995 the “Fort C”, a historical fortress and monument, is our fixed quarters. We are hoping that this will be our place for a long time. Festivals and company meetings will be held there.
Even the Company-Sergeant had been changed during that time. 1989 Dieter Schubert took over from Adolf Boje. Dieter Schubert brought in another innovation. He suggested to celebrate a festival for the hole population every two years. It was called “The Night in the Fort C”. This festival with a lot of highlights is very famous and popular today.
On the 14th of December 1994, Senior Captain Klaus Marowsky presented a medal to the members of the company. This medal was supposed to be the Company Medal which will be awarded to people with special merits to the Battalion. It was called the “Bridge-Medal”.
For his merits to the 1st Company Captain Klaus Marowsky was the first one who was decorated with the “Bridge-Medal”.
Since 1997 Captain Thorsten Rust is the Chief of the 1st Company.
After 11 years in the position of the Company-Sergeant, Dieter Schubert handed this position over to secretary Horst Steinkämper. Due to his merits to the Battalion and to the Company Dieter Schubert was decorated with the Battalion-Medal, the Bridge-Medal, the golden merit-pin of the 1st Company and the merit –pin of the German Military Forces. Furthermore he was promoted to be a Sergeant of Honor.
In 2001 the 150th anniversary of the historical monument Fort C was celebrated with the festival “Night in the Fort C”. This mega event was really spectacular.
On the 5th of May 2003 and after 6 years of duty as the chief of the company the company was handed over to First Lieutenant Dieter Bruderek. This happened in a ceremonial act in the town hall of Minden.
Even Captain Thorsten Rust was decorated with the Battalion-Medal.
After the annual meeting of the 1st Company Dieter Bruderek asked the Major of the Citizens Battalion to drop out of his position ahead of schedule.
Captain Thorsten Rust took over again in a temporary solution for a time frame of 1 or 2 years.
In December 2005 two new Lieutenants had been inaugurated.
Marcus Henninger and Michael Behrens are the new officers and Lieutenants of the Minden Citizens Battalion.
The former corporals of the 1. Company were elected unisonous by the officers convention. Following to the election Town Mayor Michael Buhre appointed the two candidates to Town Officers and promoted them to Lieutenants.
From now on the 1. Company has got 11 officers.
Following to the convention the traditional Christmas Dinner took place in the facilities of the Viktoria-Hotel. Captain Thorsten Rust announced the new City-Quarter for the 1. Company:
“ The Viktoria-Hotel will be the new City-Quarter of the 1. Company!”
The first Company had been led by Captain Thorsten Rust until „Freischießen“-Sunday 2006.
This day Captain Rust honored the very special merits, especially concerning the maintenance of the historical fortress Fort C, of Vice Staff Sergeant Heinz Breitenfeld with the „Bridge-Medal“. This is still the highest decoration you can get decorated with.
As a great attraction the handing over of the 1st Company from Captain Rust to 1st Lieutenant Sebening had been taken place in public.
On Sunday, 13th of August, at 14:00 hrs, more than 500 spectators of the Minden population could attend the roll call on the market place.
This was the first time the population could attend such an event. Usually it was accomplished internally in the town hall.
The Prussian Giant-Guard fired salute to honor the old and the new Chief of the 1st Company!
Translated by Lieutenant Michael Behrens