Kurt Heinz Trenkmann


Kurt was an idealist. Born December 1920, his steadfast belief was in the Brotherhood of Masonry. Despite being a Mason for over 50 years he never took rank above that of a Brother, which, he always said was the highest rank that meant anything in masonry.

His life was one of service. Having been spared when the battleship Bismarck, on which he served as a young rating, was sunk by allied warships during the 1939/45 conflict. He was rescued from the sea by a British ship and taken into captivity. After a spell of confinement in England he was transferred to Canada where he spent his time teaching Italian POW’s to speak English.

On his return to Germany he became a Mason whilst working as a Sales Engineer in the ship building industry. His passionate belief in the multi-national nature of the Craft was evident when in retirement to Spain he joined Logia de Las Salinas which was the only multi-national lodge available to him at that time.

As his health and sight began to deteriorate, his attendance at Lodge meetings became sporadic but even on these occasions he tried to play a full part, whatever language was used.

As his attendance at meetings became less and less, it was suggested that he should save money and resign but could visit the Lodge whenever he was able. His response to this typified the man. He said “I have lived most of my life as a Mason belonging to a Lodge, I will die as one” which sadly he did.


The following is a copy of an article printed in the EL PAIS newspaper on 28th May 2000.



Sunday, 28th de may de 2000
The last of the `Bismark´
Survivors or the German ship and English Ship, which sank, fraternise in Torrevieja.
Pilar Girona Orihuela 28 MAY 2000
I remember those moments when I was floating in the sea, clinging to a lifeboat and looking to one side, saw how the Bismarck sank and on the other British ships coming towards me.” So recalled in Torrevieja the octogenarian German Navy Kurt Trekmann the sinking of the mighty German battleship Bismarck, belonging to the Navy of the Third Reich, at the hands of the British destroyers, 59 years ago now in the North Atlantic, off the Danish coast. From this survivor of that World War II episode has emerged the initiative to turn the anniversary of the sinking of the ship into an act of brotherhood and reconciliation among the few survivors of the sinking (117 persons, of the 2,700 crew), the attackers, the British sailors , and their Spanish colleagues, who also collaborated in the rescue.
An Act of this post-war reconciliation has been held in the town of Torrevieja, where Trenkmann lives, culminating at noon yesterday with a lunch. Kurt Trenkmann, along with several of his countrymen, all dressed in a jacket with coat of Schlachtschild-Bismarck, shared his joy of being able to continue, year after year, paying tribute to their dead comrades and the British that spared them.
Also participating were the British, who also collaborated in the rescue of their enemies, and attending the symbolic meeting was Ken Garham, soldier brother of Victor Garham, who died along with 1,300 crew of the British warship Hood, sunk by the Bismarck, shortly before the battleship after being hammered for over an hour in the English fleet, and was sent to the bottom of the ocean.
German survivors and the British attackers, all knowing perfect English, the former learning English due to their years as prisoners of war in British and Canadian fields, also thanked the Spanish Armada, and specifically the sailors of the ship Canarias, with its collaboration in the rescue of victims. Until now, the Germans have only found one relative of those Spanish sailors, the son of the commander of the ship `Canaries´, who they visited and presented a plaque.
The meeting took place with fraternal cordiality and recalling the tragic moments that lived in the icy waters of the Atlantic. “I was convinced that the British were going to kill me, because of the German propaganda and believed they would,” said Trenkmann. “But when the British threw down the ropes and saved me I became emotional and stopped seeing them as the enemy and began to feel them as friends forever,” he said.



domingo, 28 de mayo de 2000
Los últimos del ‘Bismarck’
Supervivientes del barco alemán e ingleses, que lo hundieron, confraternizan en Torrevieja
Pilar Girona Orihuela 28 MAY 2000
En aquellos momentos me encontraba flotando en el mar, agarrado a un salvavidas y veía, a un lado, cómo se hundía el Bismarck y, al otro, los barcos británicos que se acercaban a mí”. Así evocaba ayer en Torrevieja el octogenario marino alemán Kurt Trekmann, el hundimiendo del poderoso acorazado Bismarck, perteneciente a la Armada del Tercer Reich, a manos de los destructores ingleses, hace ahora 59 años en el Atlántico Norte, frente a las costas danesas.De este superviviente de aquel episodio de la II Guerra Mundial ha surgido la iniciativa de convertir el aniversario del hundimiento del buque en un acto de confraternización y reconciliación entre los supervivientes del hundimiento (117 personas, de los 2.700 tripulantes), los atacantes, los marineros británicos, y sus colegas españoles, que también colaboraron en las tareas de rescate.
Los actos de esta reconciliación postbélica se han celebrado en la localidad de Torrevieja, ciudad donde reside Trenkmann, y culminaron al mediodía de ayer con un almuerzo. Kurt Trenkmann, junto a varios de sus compatriotas, todos ellos vestidos con una chaqueta con el escudo del Schlachtschild-Bismarck, compartían su alegría de poder seguir, año a año, rindiendo tributo a sus compañeros muertos y a los ingleses que los salvaron.
Por parte de los ingleses, que también colaboraron en las tareas de rescate de sus enemigos, tan sólo ha acudido al simbólico encuentro Ken Garham, hermano del soldado Víctor Garham, que murió junto a los 1.300 tripulantes del buque de guerra británico Hood, hundido por el Bismarck, poco antes de que el acorazado, tras ser martilleado durante más de una hora por la flota inglesa, se precipitase al fondo del océano.
Supervivientes alemanes y los atacantes británicos, todos perfectos conocedores del inglés, los primeros debido a los años que pasaron como prisioneros de guerra en campos británicos y de Canadá, agradecieron también a la Armada Española, y en concreto a los marineros del buque Canarias, su colaboración en el rescate de las víctimas. Hasta ahora, los alemanes sólo han encontrado a un familiar de aquellos marinos españoles, el hijo del comandante del Canarias, a quien visitaron y le hiceron entrega de una placa.
El fraternal encuentro transcurrió con cordialidad y recordando los trágicos momentos que vivieron en las gélidas aguas del Atlántico. “Estaba convencido de que los británicos iban a matarme, porque la propaganda alemana así nos lo hacía creer”, relató Trenkmann. “Pero cuando los ingleses me echaron las cuerdas para salvarme me emocioné y dejé de verlos como enemigos para sentirlos como amigos para siempre”, concluyó.