Farewell, Jochen!

by on Jan.10, 2018, under Allgemein

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Sad news arrived us in January. German veteran Jochen Burnus, one of the last remaining WW2 frogmen, died on 30 December 2017 at the age of 94. We send our condolences to his Family.

Jochen Burnus’ personal story as a frogmen was featured in chapter V of our book “History2” with information and documents he provided us during several meetings and interviews between 2010 and 2013.

The chapter on Jochen Burnus described his period of duty as a frogman, from his posting away from Yugoslavia in 1944 and his training in northern Italy to his missions at the Elbe, where he ended up in American captivity in April, 1945. After his release he worked in the Hamburg Harbour as a recovery diver (photo). In 1949 he ended his career as a recovery diver and worked afterwards as a mechanic and boiler maker for the German Railways in Zwickau. In 1951 Jochen Burnus commenced a graphics course at the Robert Schumann Academy in Zwickau, and switched from there to the master school in Berlin in 1952. In 1953, Jochen Burnus resumed his activities as a diver. In the disarmament of Potsdam he was in the Brandenburg on the search for remnants of the Second World War and removed unexploded bombs, weapons and munitions from lakes, rivers and fields, and also helped to defuse them as an explosives assistant. In 1957 he transferred to the main waterways department in East Berlin, where he worked as a diver in facilitating shipping once again, which had collapsed in 1945 in Berlin and the surrounding waterways. Divers carried out works over weeks and months with salvage ships on the Spree. In 1960 Jochen Burnus returned to the shipyards in Hamburg. After around a year of work as a diver in the Hamburg Harbour, which was greatly expanded during this time, He became site supervisor for a Hamburg based company, and worked in many harbours and rivers across Europe in the field of culvert construction (a special procedure to lay pipes below dykes or shipping channels). Until his retirement in 1988, Jochen Burnus worked for two more water construction companies as a site manager. In 1972 he moved from Hamburg to the Cologne for four years, and laid pipes for water, power cables and telephone lines in the rivers Lippe, Main, Danube, Elbe and Rhine, as well as in the North Sea. In 1976 he moved to a company in Munich, where he was active in culvert construction in many rivers, but also in the construction of the 90 km-long Ring Canal, to save the Chiemsee, which was threatened by incoming wastewater. Towards the end of his career, in 1985, Jochen Burnus was involved as site manager in laying an 8 km long gas pipe through the Tegernsee Lake.

The element of water, whether sea or river, has had a special significance in the life of Jochen Burnus. Whether as a ship’s boy in the 1930s, as a frogman in the Second World War, a professional diver in the post-war-era – water always had a special role. We are glad that we had the chance to meet Jochen Burnus in person several times, where we listened to his very personal experiences of his time when he was a frogman and from his life as a professional diver in the post-war era. We have lost a great source of information and a good friend.

“Auf Wiedersehen!” – farewell, Jochen – rest in peace!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann] 

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