Peter Buchholz

Peter Buchholz was born in 1888 into the large family of a cabinet-maker in the village of Eisbach, near Bonn. Following a theological education, he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1911. During the First World War, he was division chaplain from 1915 and served directly on the frontline. From 1918, Buchholz first spent many years working as a chaplain in Essen before he became a prison chaplain in 1926. In May 1943, he was transferred to Berlin, where his responsibilities as a Catholic priest also included attending to inmates of the prison at Berlin-Plötzensee, where one of the central National Socialist execution sites was located. At this point in time, more than a hundred death sentences handed down by the National Socialist judiciary were being carried out every month. Buchholz ministered to those German and foreign prisoners who had resisted the National Socialist regime and were awaiting execution. From August 1944, these mainly consisted of people who were arrested as a result of their involvement in the attempted coup of 20 July and murdered in Plötzensee. In close cooperation with the protestant priest Harald Pölchau, he passed on final messages to or from relatives of the prisoners or secretly delivered food or letters. After the war, he was briefly made commissioner for church affairs in the newly formed municipal authorities of Berlin, before he returned to the Rhineland in 1946. In addition to resuming his work as a prison chaplain, he also gave numerous lectures and radio interviews in which he called for the commemoration of the men and women of the resistance who were executed in Plötzensee. Peter Buchholz died at the age of 75 on May 4, 1963, in Bonn.