Koerner in Germany

A plaque on Gustave Koerner Submitted by Wolfgang Stueken of Paderborn, Germany.

Nearly 122 years after his death are gone. There is the first commemorative plaque on Gustave Koerner (1809-1896) now in Germany. The plaque was in installed on the side wall of a former tavern in the district of the city of Jena in the German state of Thuringia in Eastern Germany. From 1828 till 1830 Jena was the university town, where the 19 years old Koerner started his studies of law. He came to Jena in a horse-drawn carriage to begin his life on university. Already on his first day in Jena he became a member of the political students club „Burschenschaft“. A radical wing of this fraternity, called „Germania“, demanded large-scale changes of the political system in Germany, and Koerner decided to follow this wing. The forbidden „Germania“ had many confidential meetings and lively debates at Koerner’s time, and one oft he most important meeting points was a tavern in Jena’s neighbor village Zwaetzen. The name of this tavern became „Blaue Weintraube“ (= blue grape), cause the valley of the river Saale was (and is becoming again today) a famous German wine-region.

The more than 800 years old village of Zwaetzen is a district of t the city of Jena already since 1922. The commemorative plaque, dedicated one June 9, 2018, was installed on a side-wall of the old „Gasthaus“ by the historical association „Kulturlandschaft Zwaetzen“ (= cultural landscape, 60 members). This association invited Wolfgang Stueken, Vice-president oft he German-American Friendship Society Paderborn-Belleville, to give a lesson on the life of Gustav Koerner, as well on the German as on the American part, on the day of dedication. Wolfgang Stueken did a lot of research in Germany for the Belleville Koerner House project.

Koerner’s plaque is hanging beyond the plaque of Fritz Reuter (1810-1874), who came to Jena as a student 1832. At that time Koerner already was in Heidelberg to finish his studies. Gustav Koerner didn’t meet him personal in Jena. But in the first volume of his memoirs from 1912 Koerner remembers Fritz Reuter (volume I, pages 210-221)as a member of the „Germania“, who even was sentenced to death, but later to thirty years in fortress. Reuter became free 1840 – and a famous novellist in Low German language. And Koerner, so the short text of the plaque, a “friend of Abraham Lincoln“.

Just a few days before the dedication of the Koerner-plaque in Germany, on June 3, was the final day of the great exhibition „Celebrate Illinois: 200 years in the land of Lincoln“ in the Riverfront museum of Peoria Illinois. Koerner’s doctor’s degree of the university of Heidelberg (1832), a rapier as a memory of German student duells in the time of Koerner (he himself fought such a duell 1832 against his later friend Frederick Hecker) and an invitation to the Golden Wedding of Gustav and Sophie Koerner 1886 in Belleville, loans of the St. Clair County Historical Society in Belleville, were shown in this exhibition.

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Wolfgang Stueken from Belleville’s sister city Paderborn (left) and Andreas Jahn, chairman of the association „Kulturlandschaft Zwaetzen“ (right) uncovering the Koerner-plaque. Photo: Renate Stueken

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Wolfgang Stueken, Andreas Jahn and Dr. Thomas Pester, Vice-chairman and historian of the association „Kulturlandschaft Zwaetzen“ (from left) standing in front oft he wall with the plaques. Photo: Renate Stueken

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The plaque of Fritz Reuter was the first on the side-wall some time ago. Gustave Koerner’s plaque followed on June 9, 2018. Photo: Wolfgang Stueken

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The old „Gasthaus“ of Zwaetzen on an etching of Ludwig Hess (1776-1853) from about 1812. On the left side under a tree a student, smoking his long pipe. Reproduction: Museums of the city of Jena 1999.

Koerner 1833 Arrest Warrant Translation:

The below mentioned local citizen and lawyer Dr. jur. (Doctor of Law) Gustav Peter Philipp Koerner is urgently suspected of participating in the storming the local military and police station on the 3rd of April of this year with group of armed men  and releasing the prisoners, in which several people were killed and many wounded.  Because the aforementioned has secretly gotten away and up until now not been detained, all civil and military officials are hereby requested, to keep a watchful eye out for Dr. Gustav Peter Philipp Koerner, and in case he is arrested and in safe custody, he is to be delivered to the undersigned location.   


Of Dr. Gustav Peter Philipp Koerner
Age:  23 years
Height:  5 feet 2 inches
Hair:  blond
Brow/Forehead: free
Eyebrows:  light brown
Nose:   average
Mouth: average
Chin:  round
Face:  oval
Face color:  healthy
Other identification:  is wounded


The Gustave Koerner House

200 Abend
Belleville, IL 62220

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