Wilhelm von Pechmann was buried in Munich’s North Cemetery in February of 1948. Only one pastor from the regional church, von Pechmann’s ecumenically interested friend August Rehbach (1879–1978), attended this farewell to one of its most important laypeople. Regional Bishop Hans Meiser (1881–1956) apologized for his absence to von Pechmann’s daughter, citing the circumstances that prevented him from speaking graveside. Meiser’s appreciation of von Pechmann was prompted by both gratitude for his important service to the Evangelical Church earlier and a lack of understanding for von Pechmann’s conversion to Catholicism (W. Sommer, Pechmann, 232f.).
The “Evangelische Gemeindeblatt für München” (February 29, 1948, 35) reported von Pechmann’s death only briefly but recognized his contributions to German and Bavarian Protestantism as long as he was a member of our Evangelical Lutheran regional church.
Church historian Friedrich Wilhelm Kantzenbach (born in 1932) was instrumental in making Wilhelm Freiherr von Pechmann’s life and work accessible. In 1971, he brought out an edition of Pechmann’s letters from the period of the Kirchenkampf, which had been kept among his personal effects (F. W. Kantzenbach Widerstand).
The church’s remembrance of Wilhelm von Pechmann was slow in coming at first. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, the Jewish congregation in Munich and die Bayerische Handelsbank honored the jurist’s memory on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death in 1998. That same year, the Bavarian regional synod paid tribute to its former president von Pechmann when it convened in Memmingen, the city of his birth.
One of Augustana Theological Seminary’s buildings in Neuendettelsau has borne von Pechmanns name since July of 1998, as has a path in the Englischer Garten in Munich since January of 2000. A plaque in the foyer of the churchwide office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria since 2001has commemorates von Pechmann and his efforts against the persecution of the Jews.
At the suggestion of past regional synod president Dieter Haack, the consistory of the Bavarian Regional Church offered the “Wilhelm Freiherr von Pechmann Award” for the first time in the fall of 2007. The € 5000 award is bestowed for historical and academic studies of the period from 1919 to 1945 and for current educational projects on the Nazi era. The award can also be given for community spirit and civil courage. Among others, criteria for the award are the remembrance of fates of individuals in the period concerned, an ecumenical perspective, work with source material, a relation to Wilhelm von Pechmann’s work, the presentation of options for resistance or a contribution to the culture of remembrance.
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- © Photo: Karl-Heinz Fix, Munich