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Leopold Kaufmann

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Chief Burgomaster of Bonn, brother of the poet and folklorist Alexander Kaufmann, born 13 March, 1821; died 27 Feb., 1898. With his brother Alexander, he attended the grammar school of his native city, and in the autumn of 1840, through Ernst Moritz Arndt, who had shortly before been reinstated in his professorship, Kaufmann was matriculated as student of law at the University of Bonn. Together with his scientific studies he cultivated an intelligent love of music and singing; held inspiring intercourse with such composers as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and Franz Liszt, with poets like Gottfried Kinkel, and with his future wife Johanna, née Mockel; and with these artistic friends he founded a poetical society called the "Maikäferbund". On the occasion of the first Beethoven festival and of the unveiling of the Beethoven Monument, in the summer of 1845, Kaufmann founded the still extant male choral society of Bonn, the "Concordia". When the revolutionary disturbances broke out in May, 1848, and many of the burgomasters in the Rhenish provinces voluntarily gave up their positions, he was appointed first government referendary of the burgomaster administrator at Unkel on the Rhine, and one year later deputy landrath or president of the District of Zell on the Moselle. In October, 1850, he was elected Burgomaster of Bonn, which at that time contained 18,000 inhabitants, and assumed office in the following May. In 1859 he received the title of chief burgomaster. Among the important enterprises which he planned for the welfare of the city, and which he carried out with prudence and energy, may be mentioned the foundations for extensive docks on the Rhine, the drainage of the entire city, laying out new plans for alignment and rebuilding, and eventually for a canal. For the systematic aid of the poor he laid out the city in districts; he also built an asylum for the insane. He provided for the young by a systematic reorganization of the public schools, and for the support of the orphans. Very successful too were his exertions for the artistic adornment of the beautiful cemetery of Bonn, of the tombs of Schiller's widow and his son Ernst, those of the composer Robert Schumann, and the poet A. W. von Schlegel.

In 1861, Kaufmann was appointed by the King of Prussia a life member of the Upper House on the nomination of the city of Bonn. On the question of reforming the army, he voted with the so-called constitutional deputies on 11 October, 1862, for the budget as arranged by the Lower House. On the hundredth anniversary of Ludwig von Beethoven (b. at Bonn, 12 Dec., 1770), the Beethoven Hall was built. In August, 1871, the Beethoven musical festival, and in August, 1873, the Schumann festival were held, two significant musical events, the success of which was largely due to Kaufmann, and which procured for Bonn the renown of a first-class artistic centre. After the Vatican decree of 18 July, 1870, Bonn and Munich became the centres of the Old Catholic movement. Whilst several of Kaufmann's most esteemed friends joined the new sect, he always remained true to the Church. In 1874 he was unanimously re-elected burgomaster for the third time by the town council of Bonn, for a term of twelve years, but he became a victim of the Kulturkampf. Although he recognized the necessity for the government taking measures with the object of regulating its attitude towards the Church, and declared himself prepared in his official capacity to carry out the May Laws, his confirmation was refused by the administration on 8 May, 1875, a measure which resulted in an interpellation by Windt-Lorst in the Reichstag and the Prussian Diet. At the end of 1876, Kaufmann was elected to the Lower House from the electoral district of München-Gladbach, joined the Centre party, and soon became a member of its governing committee. In the Reichstag he frequently spoke in the interest of art and science. He was likewise one of the founders of the "Görresgesellschaft", for fostering science in Catholic Germany (1876), and for the first fifteen years was its general secretary. After 1882, he was vice-president of the Borromeo Society for disseminating good books. In 1886 he refused re-election to the Reichstag, and henceforth devoted himself to the promotion of art and of useful undertakings, particularly to the decoration of Bonn cathedral. Among his writings may be mentioned: "Albrecht Dürer" (Cologne, 1881; 2nd ed., 1887); "Bilder aus dem Rheinland" (1884); "Philipp Veit, Vorträge über Kunst" (1891).

About this page

APA citation. Hoeber, K. (1910). Leopold Kaufmann. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Hoeber, Karl. "Leopold Kaufmann." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Czeglédi Erzsébet.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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