the Captain of Köpenick © wood engraving (ed. 40) image: 7 x 5 in. $100.00 (go to "Hi There" for purchase information)
A former shoemaker-turned-thief and forger named Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt found himself out of prison again in 1906 and needing some cash. He decided to test the theory that Germans are inclined to obey orders without question. He got his hands on a Prussian captain's uniform from flea markets and took a train from Berlin to Köpenick where he took charge of the first military patrol he saw. He ordered them to march to the city hall where he placed the mayor and the city treasurer under arrest for illegal bookkeeping practices. He cleaned out the city treasury of over 4000 marks as evidence, then commandeered a carriage and ordered a few of the enlisted men to take the mayor and treasurer to Berlin for interrogation. He stationed the rest of the patrol as guards in the city hall and left with the money.

The press had a field day with the story and he became a folk hero. Even though he was eventually caught and sent to prison, Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him after he served two years of a four year sentence.

Back to Collection of Odd-Balls

Back to Wood Engravings