How it all started..

In her recollections of the Oxford – Bonn link, Brigitta Poppe-Reiners tells the story of how she went:

to visit to Ms. Katja Bayerwaltes on her 90th birthday. Katja was formerly secretary to Colonel Brown (from Oxford), commander of the British occupation zone in Bonn and was able to tell me first-hand the exciting story of the start of town twinning, in which she was significantly involved..

Katia Bayerwaltes

In 1945, Katia Bayerwaltes, was Personal Assistant to the then Military Government representative in Bonn, Colonel Edward Brown – coincidentally from Oxford:

“He was very Germanophile”, she recalls, “He was advocating a link as early as 1946 when non-fraternization was still in force. Sometimes it was quite dangerous for him!” Frau Bayerwaltes said. But via General Bishop, who was responsible for North Rhine-Westphalia, Colonel Brown was able to implement his idea for a town-twinning link. Bishop had good contact to Professors in both Bonn and Oxford. It was his idea to persuade the two university towns Bonn and Oxford to enter into such a link.

Bishop and Brown were successful. On 9th October 1947, Brown was able to report to the then Oberbürgermeister of Bonn, Edward Spoelgen, that “I have received news that the Mayor, the town councillors and officials from Oxford would be pleased to offer you every assistance you may require.” The Bonn side was delighted to accept this outstretched hand and the foundations were laid for the future town-twinning link. Frau Bayerwaltes recalls that she worked right through some nights, “but it was very enjoyable because here was a man who wanted to help the Germans and was making an active commitment.” When Colonel Brown was due to be posted to Aix-La-Chapelle after 3 years she set everything possible in motion – using General Bishop in particular – to ensure that he came back. It was only years later that she told him how these “secret negotiations” had been conducted.

Colonel Brown continued working in Bonn until 1950 and Katia Bayerwaltes was his contact with the municipal administration – “I enjoyed his complete confidence”. Together with Oberbürgermeister Spoelgen, he established a body which worked together in a good atmosphere. Even later, after he had retired, Edward Brown came back to Bonn almost every year in a private capacity.  He died in 1985 at the age of 79. Throughout all those years, he kept in touch with his former assistant by letter. “We were incredibly lucky that this man came to Bonn”, Katya Bayerwaltes says in conclusion.

From “Bonn-Oxford 1947-1997”