Farewell to Poko
On our way through life we meet many people. Some encounters are very short and remain only dimly in our memory, others last longer, but then we part ways again and go in different directions. I would like to tell you something about the common path I walked with Poko.
To say it up front, when our paths crossed in the mid-90s, it wasn’t what you call “love at first sight.” At that time, I was also responsible for the training of bodyguards as a shooting instructor at the Frankfurt Police Headquarters, and Poko had taken over the leadership of this group after his time with the SEK. His legitimate concern was to raise the performance level of the officers. This then took the form of him actively interfering in my training by yelling at his men while they were shooting in order to put them under stress. I am sure that some of those who knew him at that time have a vivid picture of this in their minds. In a subsequent one-on-one conversation, I asked him -as respectfully as possible- to refrain from doing that in the future.
His reaction: he raised his eyebrow, took a deep breath and said, “O.k. Ecko – if that’s the way you want it, let’s do it that way.” After that, I expected that he would complain about me to my boss and that I would get a good scolding. But – nothing happened.
Poko took part in the shooting himself and asked me to implement one or two of his ideas – which I was happy to do. Our meeting could have ended in enmity, but due to his prudent behavior it was the beginning of a collegial cooperation, which became better and better with time.
When we founded the Police Trainers Association in Germany in 1997, Poko was one of the first to join our ranks. He was never interested in playing a leadership role. For him, the only thing that ever mattered was our common cause, and that was: to protect the lives and health of those who protect others – the protectors on the street.
When we organized seminars together, he was the first one in the morning and the last one in the evening, and he was fully involved all day long. If something went wrong, he gave a clear speech. I can well remember an evening before the police trainers’ conference in Nuremberg. We had to set the barriers for the practical training of the following day and something was not executed the way he wanted it. Because of this, he put several colleagues in an extreme spot and the mood was at rock bottom. After we arrived at the hotel, he asked me to call the whole team together. When everyone was gathered, he formally apologized and invited us to the bar for a drink. If you wanted to know what kind of guy Poko was, this is a good example. Even though he could be tough as nails about things, it was never meant to be personal or hurtful.
A few days ago I received the following message from Lars, a journalist we used to deal with from time to time:
I got to know and appreciate Bernd 20 years ago. At that time, I was a reservist in the German Armed Forces and involved in preparations for foreign missions. And while practically all doors were closed in the service and young soldiers were left to their own devices, it was Bernd who took care and made the effort to pass on knowledge and experience; informally and selflessly, without making any demands or demands, simply for the sake of it.
Much of what Bernd opened up is taken for granted by the Bundeswehr today, but his help was not.
And yet it was always natural for him to step in and help where his help was needed. Even when I later became a journalist, there was always an open ear with Bernd, who patiently and comprehensively explained and pointed out for my colleagues and me where this was required, edited professionally and openly addressed errors where he found them. The police bashing that is widespread today was just as repugnant to Bernd as bullying, which he repeatedly addressed and understood in long background discussions as the cause not only of homicides but also of political discussions and thus offered important impulses; at the editorial offices of ZDF, Spiegel and the Tagesspiegel he was appreciated for speaking so freely about the realities and at times also holding our own mistakes against us – and not so rarely as we ourselves would have wished.
Bernd was what you don’t find anymore today: A thoroughly good-hearted soul who tackled problems where he found them and also took responsibility for them in order to put things right that were not in order. Objective and fair was his motto at a time when fairness and objectivity are not infrequently sacrificed to speed. Thus he should remain a role model for us for an open and above all factual discussion, always talking to the police about the police and understanding each other.
I will sincerely miss his positive outlook on life and his commitment not only to the police and special forces, but to our entire society.
I think Lars’ words describe very well how we also perceived Poko. For me, on our journey together, there were three qualities above all why we went from colleagues to comrades: Loyalty, reliability and diligence. Especially when the winds of life blew a little rougher, I could be sure that he stood firmly by my side.
Over the years, Poko was a frequent guest in our home. With teenage daughters and him, two worlds collided. This applied to both worldview and Poko’s brand of humor, which all the ladies sometimes acknowledged with puckish expressions or shakes of the head. It was therefore nice to see how both parties developed mutual acceptance and respect, which ultimately led to my wife, Sarah and Sina awarding Poko the title of
” Our woman-understanding ” lent.
I still have his hearty laugh in my ear today.
One would not have believed it of the East Prussian stubborn man. But he was always ready to learn something new and to change. And so, on our way together, we went from being comrades to friends.
What some people would not have believed him to have was his penchant for music. When he could play music at parties as a “DJ,” Poko was in his element. That was also something that connected us.
About 2 years ago I had called him and from him came immediately: “Hey Ecko, good that you call. I’ve ‘explored a cool song . It’s by Bob Seeger. I didn’t have it on my screen until today. I’ll send you the link.”
A short time later I heard the song. Poko had not exaggerated. The title: “The famous final Scene” with its very touching lyrics has become one of my favorite songs and will always remind me of Poko.
Bob Seeger – „The Famous Final Scene“: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnrhX9e9CkI