Wilhelm Burkhardt was in the SA and in 2023 a street in Allersberg was named after him. Now the traffic signs are there too.

Street sign.

Wilhelm-Burkhardt-Strasse in Allersberg Photo: Daniel Karmann/dpa

MUNICH taz | The dispute over the name of a street in Allersberg in Central Franconia never ends. Signs indicating Wilhelm-Burkhardt-Straße were put up there last Friday. Wilhelm Burkhardt was not only the American-appointed mayor of the city for a short time, but above all he was also in the SA, which offended many, but not all, of the inhabitants of Allersberg.

The case also caused a stir beyond the local level, especially because this case, unlike many other street name debates, was not a question of legacy. The street is located in a newly built area; The decision to name it after Burkhardt was made almost three years ago, without further information being known about the person honored, unlike other municipalities. In 2022, the man's shameful past came to light.

The dispute broke out last year. Opponents spoke of an “insult to the victims of National Socialism” and called for an immediate name change. Such a decision by the city council would have been simple at the time, as there were no traffic signs at the time and the street name was not yet used as an address. Supporters of honoring the SA man said they wanted to first wait for a thorough investigation by an outside historian.

However, to date nothing is known about said expert report commissioned by the municipality. However, Erlangen student Gregory Bey has submitted his bachelor's thesis on the case. The conclusion he reaches is clear: almost nothing suggests that Burkhardt as a person deserves special recognition, but there is much that speaks against such an honor.

An internal evaluation by the community archivist came to the same conclusion. Independent mayor Daniel Horndasch, however, denies the existence of such a document. However, he dismisses Bey's scientific work as private opinion, much to the chagrin of his professor.

Placing signs creates facts.

Burkhardt's supporters, including Horndasch, like to argue that Burkhardt was dismissed from the SA due to his political unreliability and that he was also known as a Nazi opponent. But a closer look at the relevant court records actually shows that there is almost a single source exonerating Burkhardt and describing him as an opponent of the Nazis: Burkhardt himself.

For his part, the current mayor Horndasch governs the city council with a coalition of free voters and the Allersberg Citizens Forum. Aris Maul also sits on the latter's local council. Maul is Burkhardt's grandson.

By placing the posters in the streets, more events are created, to the horror of many residents of Allersberg. He South German newspaper He writes, referring to Horndasch, that the signs had been in the construction yard for a long time and were waiting to be used. Placing the pieces, which cost 40 euros each, was a bit complicated only in winter. However, residents have the right to live on a properly marked street.

Bavaria's anti-Semitism commissioner, Ludwig Spaenle, also does not understand the city council's insistence on granting this controversial honour. “Unnecessary for Allersberg,” the CSU politician wrote on Facebook last July after the committee rejected a citizen's request to change the name: “Renaming a newly built street named after a SA man It is neither justifiable nor sensible. On the contrary: ancient behavioral patterns of relativization, half-truths and repression have unusual origins here.”