The Inspiring Forefathers

The essential point of success in any type is the inspiring source. What pushes us forward are two great thinkers who used to know how to combine passion and profession!

Working at Pro Heraldica is for nobody just a profession. The philosophy of the founding forefather and pioneer taught us to love what we do! Learn more about Dr. O. Neubecker and A. Dochtermann. 

Dr. O. Neubecker

Neubecker_mit_Wappenbrief_LDr. Ottfried Neubecker was one of the greatest experts on heraldry of the 20th century.

Dr. Neubecker, who in professional circles was known as “The Pope of Heraldry” would have celebrated his hundredth birthday in 2008.  He was born on March 22, 1908 in Berlin-Charlottenburg and was the child of Prof. Karl and Renée Neubecker. At the age of six, he already showed great interest in Coats of Arms and its standards – a passion which was to accompany him all his life.

His father insisted that he read law after gaining his university entrance qualification, but he soon changed over to studying history and art history. He studied at the universities in Geneva, Heidelberg and Berlin where he was awarded a PhD in 1931 for his thesis “German Coats of arms 1806-1871”. At the same time, he was working with the Reich-Art supervisor, Edwin Redslob and later in the Reich Department of the Interior and Naval Administration. Neubecker was able to distance himself from the prevailing Nazi ideology in spite of the pressure put upon him.

During this time, Ottfried Neubecker created more than 50 municipal Coats of Arms, drafts for ecclesiastical crests and concepts for academic insignia and Coats of Arms. In addition, he was employed on behalf of the aforementioned ministries to work on official standard works and further more was involved with leading publishers such as Brockhaus, Knaur, Chamber’s Encyclopaedia and many others as an advisor. The Gestapo had an eye on him several times as his wife was Jewish but by frequently switching his place of residence, he was able to escape persecution right up to the end of the war.

After 1945, Ottfried Neubecker took on teaching at the universities of Mainz and Berlin. Although he was born and bred in Berlin and after the Second World War – politically unencumbered – helped many cultural associations to renew their permits, he located his activities from the Fifties onwards increasingly to the Federal Republic of Germany where he continued his work first in Wiesbaden, later in Stuttgart until 1992.

These were the years of his success when he received numerous distinctions:

  • Commander with star of the Spanish Order of Knights from Raimundo de Peňafort (Comendador de numero de la Orden de raimundo de Peňafort), December 13, 1955.
  • André Duchesne Award (Spain), 1956
  • Member of the Board of the International Academy of Heraldry, 1964
  • Médaille de mérite de la Confédération Interantionale de Génealogie et d’Héraldique, 1988
  • Honorable and corresponding member in almost all genealogical, heraldic, vexillological and phaleristic professional associations in Europe and overseas.

Ottfried Neubecker was an all-rounder scientist. He always viewed his special fields of knowledge i.e. heraldry (the study of armorial bearings) and vexillology (the study of flags) and phaleristics (the study of orders, medals and decorations) to be an interdisciplinary science and became a sort of “walking encyclopedia” for his employees and colleagues.

Dr. O. Neubecker dedicated 25 years of his life to Pro Heraldica in whose foundation and development he was significantly involved. After almost 80 years, we still have his today’s renowned reference library in the company! He was able to implement many of his ambitious projects; he trained and educated people who are continuing his work today. He was known for his strong opinion that heraldry was a topic to be dealt with professionally. He helped thousands of families with the researching, verification, rectification and granting of family crests.

His literature is documented in 300 individual letters, anonymous cooperation in the work of others, translations, work on encyclopedia e.g. periodicals, essays in newspapers and journals, advertisements and images etc. We can make this comprehensive list of publications available to anyone who is interested in reading or downloading it.

You can download his bibliography here (PDF 21 MB)

A. Dochtermann

Alfred-DochtermannAlfred Dochtermann was a renowned herald and genealogist. He was self-taught as these occupational titles were neither protected in Germany nor did any kind of training exist for such professions.

In 60 years of research, he collected a unique archive of family history and an important specialist reference library for genealogy and heraldry. They are both regarded as the second largest private collection containing more than 30,000 research files with information from pre-war sources which are no longer accessible. They further contain unique documentation and a bibliography. Alfred Dochtermann’s life work is surpassed only by the famous collection of Ottfried Neubecker.

During his life, Alfred Dochtermann created 10,000 – 20,000 Coats of Arms plus a forum for the right to bear arms with a series of publications entitled “Wappenrolle Dochtermann”(Dochtermann’s Heraldic Register).

After the death of Hans Winter, his successor, both collections passed into the possession of Pro Heraldica.

Of all the Coats of Arms created by Dochtermann only a mere 2,500 were published and so protected (some of them with genealogical data in the Dochtermann heraldic register). Most of the family Coats of Arms and genealogical data are still slumbering in the around 30,000 research files. They are a firm and essential part of our archive for the research they contain is a unique source of information including data from sources destroyed in the Second World War.