The red Becker - from enemy of the state to imperial politician
Hermann Heinrich Becker was the only mayor of the last two centuries to leave his library to the city of Cologne. The private library, which originally contained 15,000 volumes, contained mainly law, political and economic literature, corresponding to Becker's educational and professional career. He also collected many works on German history, Westfalica and brochures on 19th century politics. With the exception of around 600 volumes, which were placed under the shelfmark "BECK", this large collection has been incorporated into the arrangement system of the City Library, which today is part of the UCL.
Hermann Heinrich Becker (1820 - 1885)
Becker, who was born on 15 September 1820 in Elberfeld, grew up in Soest, Westphalia. After his secondary school years in Soest, Dortmund and Duisburg, he studied law at the universities of Heidelberg, Bonn and Berlin until 1847. He completed his studies with a doctorate. Becker moved from Berlin to the Bonn Regional Court and from there to the Cologne Regional Court in 1848. He found himself in the midst of the struggle of the democratic movement, which was particularly active in the Rhineland. One of the lawsuits brought against Becker in the following years was the sensational "Cologne Communist Trial". Whereas he had previously been able to obtain acquittals through brilliant defensive speeches, he was sentenced to five years in prison. Becker was not allowed to resettle in Cologne after serving his sentence. His political career led him to Dortmund, where he was able to move into the Prussian House of Representatives as a member of parliament in 1862, before becoming mayor of Dortmund and member of the Prussian Manor in 1870. In 1875 he was appointed Lord Mayor of Cologne. One of the most important events of his ten-year tenure was the removal of the old Cologne city wall. Hermann Heinrich Becker died of tuberculosis on 9 December 1885. He was buried at the Melaten cemetery in Cologne.
"The red Becker" in the Kölner Sammlung von Zeitungsausschnitten 1840 - 1969