Stephan Walkowiak

Survivor | 06 December 1919 | Sailor with the HAPAG line

Stephan Walkowiak was born on 6 December 1919 in Essen-Karnap

When the Van Imhoff is sinking, he tries to save himself by jumping overboard, hoping to join the Dutch crew and military guards who are already in the life boats. He is shot at by a guard. The bullet goes straight through his wrist. Against all instructions and despite captain Hoeksema shouting from his lifeboat that he should be left in the water, Stephan is helped into a boat with Dutch crew members and guards.

Stephan is taken along to the Island of Simuk where all survivors are later picked-up by the ss Van der Capellen which anchored near the island of Tanahmasa to seek cover from possible Japanese air strikes. On 27 January all survivors reach Padang in the middle of a massive bombing raid of the harbor.

In the company of the Van Imhoff crew and guards and Dutch authorities in Padang, Stephan is seen by many witnesses and becomes known as the only German who was actually saved by the Dutch. He is described as "a young blond sailor with his wrist in a bandage".

The Dutch authorities force Stephan to sign a document stating that the prisoners on board of the Van Imhoff were engaged in a mutiny which had to be suppressed with violence. This story was invented to prepare for a credible but faked defense in case official queries would start as to why the German prisoners were abandoned at sea.

During the Japanese occupation, Stephan manages to travel back to Germany. He signs up as 'Unteroffizier' at the eastern front. He is killed (or missing in action) on 6 March 1944, North of Abiska, east of Lake Pleskau, on the Russian-Estonian border.

References to Stephan Walkowiak's final whereabouts:

In 1999 there is a reference to Stephan's military service at the eastern front in: Tijdschrift voor Media Geschiedenis #2, 1999, blz 5-21, under the title "De Vara, de oorlog en de doofpot - Waarom de Van Imhoff affaire nooit het beeldscherm heeft gehaald. Author: Chris Vos. (Translated: The VARA, the war and the hush up - why the Van Imhoff affair never made it to the tv screen).

In June 2019 Arie Bos in France mails the following source links to

Wiesentalstra├če 10
79115 Freiburg
tel: 00 49 761 478 170

Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt)
Eichborndamm 179, D-13403 Berlin
Tel. +49 (030) 41904-0

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