Following the footsteps of Eberhard Mock
Wrocław’s map by Eberhard Mock - Criminal Counsellor of the Wrocław Police – marked with countless entertainment facilities: inns, restaurants, cafés and brothels... Also through places of extremely cruel crimes.
We will not meet him strolling around Ostrów Tumski, he is rather pondering over a foaming beer mug at one of the infamous taverns. And even though pre-war Wrocław was not "a crime city compared to Chicago”, it did provide enough grievances to the Chief Constable, who craved for justice at any cost. Mock had several solutions to those grievances. A trip following his footsteps will let us in on the secrets of this unusual figure.
We start the tour around Wrocław:
The Police Headquarters (Schweidnitzer Stadtgraben) - Podwale 31-33
Along Podwale, until mid-40s of the 19th century, there were mainly gardens. At the place where, during Mock’s time, there was the police headquarters (it has remained like this to present), there had been the popular Eichborn's garden before. The Police Headquarters (Komenda Wojewódzka Policji) at Podwale, existing in its present form, which was built in the years 1925 - 1928 of the 20th century, was neighbouring with a synagogue, the so-called Neue Synagoge. Also known as the Synagogue in Exile (Synagoga na Wygonie) – located at the intersection of Podwale and ul. Łąkowa – built in 1872, it was considered one of the most beautiful and largest synagogues in Wrocław. It was burned down during the Crystal Night on 9 / 10 November 1938 and has never been rebuilt. Mock must have surely passed it by many times. Did he marvel at its architectural beauty? Doubtlessly, he used to frequently stand by the window of his office facing the city moat and, while pondering, he used to observe street traffic, passers-by walking along the floodlit Liberty Square (plac Wolności (Schlossplatz)) and monotonously rustling plane trees. However, the Criminal Counsellor’s thoughts rarely harmonised with what he saw outside.
We walk along the Headquarters and adhering buildings until the crossroads of Świdnicka and Podwale.
(The crossing takes approximately 2 minutes)
”Renoma” Department Store Podwale - Wertheim Department Store – entry from ul. Świdnicka 40 - (Schweidnitzer Strasse 40)
Wertheim Department Store at present-day ul. Świdnicka was built as designed by Hermann Dernburg. It was opened in 1930. This enormous building, established on a plan similar to a trapezium, represented modern architecture, and at that time, it was the largest commercial establishment of Breslau, with a total space amounting to 35,000 m2 and cubature amounting to 160,000 m3. From the moment of opening, Wertheim incited admiration from not only citizens and visitors, but also from the construction environment of that time.
This seven-storey commercial centre was situated on the route “Police Headquarters – Rynek”, which was covered by Mock a countless number of times. Usually by a carriage, sometimes by a business Adler, during the fall of Festung Breslau, he used the rickshaw service. The Chief Constable doubtlessly dropped by it many times as he purchased exquisite cigars, alcohol and his favourite eau de Cologne there. One could have bought just about anything at Wertheim’s. The department store was operating excellently; however, soon it had to face the economic crisis and the consequences of Nazis power. The Wertheim company did not survive this moment in history, as in 1945, the building was bombarded.
From Podwale, we turn into ul. Świdnicka. We walk on straight in the direction of the Plac Teatralny. We stop at the height of the Wrocław Opera (Opera Wrocławska), and at the nearest pedestrian crossing, which is behind the Opera, we go over to the other side:
„Café Fahring” Świdnicka 36, pl. Teatralny 1/2 and Mock and his second wife Karen’s flat - pl. Teatralny 1 (Schweidnitzer Strasse 36, Zwingerplazt 1/2)
One could say that coffee – the „wine of thinkers”, was the second favourite drink after beer of Wrocław citizens. The coffee trend started at the end of the 17th century. Even though Mock decidedly preferred the former, for a true gourmet, he relished a cup of coffee quite often (he preferred the Arabic kind), especially in the morning and with an apple pie prepared by his servant – Marta. Therefore, it is impossible that he would not have visited "Café Fahring" at ul. Świdnicka 36 every now and then to study the secrets of an investigation conducted by him over an aromatic delicacy. “Café Fahring” was one of the most popular cafés in the 20s of the 20th century in Wroclaw. It almost had a “Viennese atmosphere”, and during its golden age, it gathered many Wroclaw artists and intellectuals.
The café was situated at Sachs tenement house, which had been built to order by Moritz Sachs, a Jewish entrepreneur and the owner of a trade-banking company, and his son - Leopold. They had employed a famous architect - Karl Schmidt, to design their mansion. The establishment was built during the years 1870 – 1873 at the location of the Corpus Christi Hospital (szpital Bożego Ciała) and the Gothic Trinity Church (kościół Trójcy Świętej). It was composed of two tenement houses with a mutual façade. Some flats situated in there were intended for rent. Aside from “Café Fahring”, there was the refined Raimond Lorenz’s jewellery shop and Lichtenbergs’ auction house. In 1933, the real estate was taken away from the Sachs family. After the war, it lost a majority of its representative equipment. This neo-Renaissance building constituted a mixture of an elegant mansion with a Viennese rent tenement house and started a trend for so-called “rental palaces".
In this exact tenement house, Mock lived with his second wife Karen in the 30s.
We now reach ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego; we pass under Świdnicki Passage (Przejście Świdnickie), and then we turn into ul. Gepperta and next into ul. Szajnochy; we walk on straight in the direction of ul. Psie Budy:
(We will reach ul. Psie Budy from Sachs’ tenement house in approximately 7 minutes. On the way: KFC restaurant – where one can use the toilet. The establishment is adjusted to the needs of disabled persons).
Truscha Pub in “Kamienica Pod Czarnym Kozłem” (so-called Spelunka u Gabi Zelt) ul. Psie Budy –10 (Krullstrasse 10)
Ul. Psie Budy owes its name to the specific character of houses that were being built in this place in the Middle Ages. There were wooden huts of poor burghers that had only one brick wall and one room – they were associated with kennels (in Polish: psia buda). At the end of the Renaissance, the street gained a better look and became famous. It was cobbled, and wooden houses were exchanged with tenement houses built by richer merchants. Unfortunately, no original buildings have survived in their full forms. Only house no. 14 has a Renaissance portal made of sandstone, dated to 1568. Currently, the value of historic tenement houses is decided by their façades. A majority of them were built in the 19th century. Under Psie Budy no. 10, there is the Baroque “Kamienica pod Czarnym Kozłem”, built in 1727 as designed by Christoph Hackner.
During Mock’s times, there was the Truscha Pub – called „Spelunka u Gabi Zelt” by its visitors. „Das beste aller Welt, der letzte Schluck bei Gabi Zelt” (“The best thing in the whole wide world – the last gulp at Gabi Zelt”) – Eberhard could have read at the front door. The visitors of this pub were, to put it mildly, crooked. No wonder that in this exact establishment, the Counsellor did business with his “less formal” co-workers. Among all representatives of the underworld who owed “something – once” to Mock, the largest debts (saving them from the rope) were held by Wirth and Zupitza – back then the two most dangerous criminals in Wrocław. They had a special agreement with Mock. The Criminal Counsellor turned a blind eye to the trickery of these two in exchange for the possibility to use their service when necessary. From ul. Psie Budy, we go to ul. Ruska. We walk on in the direction of the Market Square, and at the Salt Square (Plac Solny), we turn into ul. Kiełbaśnicza. Therefrom, we go on in the direction of Jatki. After crossing ul. Malarska, where the Jatki are situated, we enter ul. Odrzańska. Then, we cross ul. Więzienna and Kuźnicza in order to reach ul. Szewska.
The surroundings of the Rynek held no secrets from Mock. When he used to work in the vice unit, he studied the topography of the Old Town thoroughly by visiting the numerous brothels that had been concentrated around ul. Odrzańska, ul. Psie Budy, plac Uniwersytecki and plac Dominikański since the Middle Ages.
(To cross the streets, it takes approximately 10-15 minutes)
The Police Headquarters - Szewska 49 (Schuhbrücke 49)
The building currently situated at ul. Szewska 49 was established in the 16th century as a result of rebuilding the former establishment that, from the middle of the 15th century, played the role of the urban mansion of princes from Legnica and Brześć. In 1709, Prince Leopold von Holstein gave the building to the Convent of Poor Clares. One hundred years later, this place became the Police Headquarters. After 1927, the building was given to the University.
On the second floor of the Headquarters, there was a briefing room, where the most important figures of the Police met. The gathered inspectors discussed currently conducted investigations, most frequently regarding cruel murders committed in mysterious circumstances. Today, on this floor, students learn ancient languages and cultures. Perhaps, some of them, just like Mock when he was nervous, still repeat in their minds the odes of Horace?
We leave ul. Szewska and go to plac Nankiera, cross the Sand Bridge (most Piaskowy) and reach ul. Św. Jadwigi:
(It takes approximately 5 minutes to get from ul. Szewska to ul. Św. Jadwigi. We enter the yard. In the building of the library, there is a toilet adjusted to disabled persons).
The University Library on the Sand (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka na Piasku), ul. św. Jadwigi.
The University Library was established in the years 1811-1815 by joining the libraries of the Jesuitical University (Uniwersytet Jezuicki), the University in Frankfurt at the Oder River (Uniwersytet we Frankfurcie nad Odrą) and several libraries belonging to Silesian monasteries that were being dissolved at that time. The Order of Saint Augustine became its seat after dissolution of this order at the beginning of the 19th century. The 12th century seat of the Order of Saint Augustine had been built in the Roman style, and in the 14th century, it was replaced with a Gothic building. It has retained most of its full Baroque character to this day. The eastern wing of the building, raised in the years 1797 – 1802, constitutes an exception. During this period, the building adopted the form of a closed rectangle with an atrium. During the war, the most valuable collections were evacuated to different places in Silesia. However, approximately 500 thousand prints that had remained burned to ash in 1945. After the rebuilding in 1956-1959, the establishment was intended for storing: old prints, manuscripts, graphic materials, cartographic and musical materials.
Here, Criminal Counsellor Mock, using the knowledge of specialists employed at the library countless times, sniffed out the trails crucial for an investigation. Sometimes, he even managed to solve a criminal puzzle thanks to the enormous collection and erudition of the establishment's employees. This was the case with “the calendar murderer” and in 1934, when, together with Leo Hartner – the Library’s newly appointed director at that time, they caught wind of a lost manuscript from the 14th century, which allowed them to solve the case of the murder of Count von der Malten’s daughter.
We return along ul. Piaskowa to ul. Św. Katarzyny, and then we turn into ul. Wita Stwosza; we pass by the building of BWA Awangarda Gallery, and finally, we enter ul. Biskupia:
(It takes 15-20 minutes to cover this distance)
„Piwnica Biskupia” - „Bischofskeller” - ul. Biskupia 4-5 (Bischofstrasse4-5)
„Karczma pod Złotym Biskupem”, where the „Piwnica Biskupia” was later situated, was first mentioned at the end of the 15th century.
For a long time (in the 20s), Mock was a frequent visitor to the “Piwnica”. He had his favourite table here in a side room. Whenever he was in the neighbourhood – and it was difficult not to be near, since he worked at the Headquarters at ul. Szewska – he visited the pub and strained his digestion system, and especially liver, by eating dumplings with a lot of pork scratching, roast pork and hot cabbage with cream. He appreciated the slightly sleepy atmosphere of this place the most. In the 30s, when “Piwnica” became more popular, he did not find a place for himself here and rarely visited.
Currently, the Hotel de Silesia, where "Piwnica Biskupia" was situated, does not exist.
We reach the Market Square, first along ul. Szewska and then ul. Oławska. We start off at the southern frontage, and we move on in the direction of the City Hall:
(It takes approximately 5 minutes to get there)
„Piwnica Świdnicka” – Rynek Ratusz 1 (Ring 1)
„Piwnica Miejska” was mentioned for the first at the beginning of the 14th century. In the 15th century, it took on the name „Piwnica Świdnicka”, and at that time, it achieved its final look. They were serving beer from other cities and towns as well as from the Czech Republic, and in the 18th century, also from England, Sweden and Germany. In 1519, a brewery was opened in the backyard of the tenement house, in front of the „Piwnica”, and was joined with the building with an underground pavement, which exists to this day.
The beer tradition in Wrocław goes back to the beginnings of the city. This city was already famous for marvellous types of drinks in the Middle Ages. Since the 17th century, “Piwnica Świdnicka” had been associated with a delicious hops beverage – its guests could have tasted Schöps – “Breslauer Schöps” (Schöps – ram) – a beer from domestic gyle. Reportedly, it was as stodgy as a mutton - therefrom, its origin. At the pub, they also served delicious food. A standard on the “Piwnica” menu: sausage with a caraway pretzel and sausage with horseradish – one of the specialties of Wrocław’s cuisine frequently eaten by Mock. In the oldest days in “Piwnica”, people drank beer from wooden mugs. They started using glass dishes from the middle of the 15th century. In the underground, smoking, swearing, playing cards and dice were not allowed. Moreover, clients had to pay a deposit before they were served alcohol. A smoking room was sectioned off in 1800. „Piwnica” was well-known to the Counsellor. He used to meet here for arranged dinners and suppers. This is the place where, on a gloomy, cold, autumn day in 1927, his brother Franz ordered an elegant dinner that was remembered for a long time by him and his companions: Franz, his life partner - Irmgard, Mock’s first wife – Sophie, and Eberhard’s nephew – Erwin. Especially by the latter…
The Counsellor used to like coming here alone, breathe in the atmosphere of the place and reminiscence. At a time like this, he often thought of his father.
(At the pub, it is necessary to eat a dinner exactly as it was served to Eberhard in the old days – as an appetizer: a board of roasted meat, pâté with horseradish and a mixture of beetroot and horseradish; as a main course: crispy pork shank from the oven; and as for a dessert: Mock’s favourite cake - hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. On special order, one can drink Schöps)
Now, we walk along the Eastern frontage of the Market Square:
(It takes approximately 2 minutes to get there)
Café „Zu Golde Krone” „Pod Złotą Koroną” Rynek 29
In 1471, at this address, there was the Walloon wine-bar. In the 16th century, the tenement house belonged to the merchant J. Von Holtz from Cologne. In 1904, in spite of numerous protests, the establishment was demolished, and in its place, the secession Keiser and Grosheim’s department store “Goldene Krone” was built. It was supposed to be competition for the then newly built Barasch Brothers’ department store. “The Golden Crown” burned down in 1945. In the years 1957- 1960, the tenement house was restored in its original form.
In the 20s of the 20th century, there was a popular café, where Mock could have drunk gallons of his favourite Arabic coffee and smoked hundreds of cigarettes. Currently, there is the seat of a travel agency.
We keep on walking along the eastern frontage (approximately 1 minute), and the next tenement house is occupied by another point on our route – the Feniks department store; during Mock’s time: the Barasch Brothers’ department store.
Barasch Brothers’ department store - Rynek – 31-32 / currently, the „Feniks” department store
This is an example of a large commercial building in secession style. It was built when the Wilhelm époque reached its zenith. At that time, establishments were built on a grand scale, and there were also imperial plans on a political ground. The Barasch Brothers’ blended with the atmosphere of that time one hundred per cent. Their department store was the largest – five-floors with an enlightened globe on a corner tower, equipped with secession-Baroque interiors, two-storeyed arcades supported on columns made of marble, wide stairs, oak parquet and a yard covered with a glass roof. It was built in 1904. An opera was composed and occasional playing cards were issued especially for the opening. All of these must have been impressive. Even for Mock. The Baraschs' house was particularly preoccupied before Christmas. However, during winter, in 1927, the Criminal Counsellor was not feeling too Christmassy. He visited the shop only for a moment, bought his brother’s favourite vodka and went to ul. Św. Mikołaja (Nicolaistrasse), where Franz lived with his wife and, loved by Eberhard, nephew Erwin.
(At “Feniks”, apart from various shops, we can also find a paid toilet)
We walk along the southern frontage of the Market Square and we reach the western wall:
(It takes 2 – 4 minutes to get there)
Under the Griffins Tenement House (Kamienica pod Gryfami) - Rynek 2
This tenement house was significantly mentioned for the first time at the end of the 16th century, where it was rebuilt in the Mannerism style. Its modernisation took place mainly in the 17th century. At that time, the loft was adopted for housing space, and the façade was decorated with oil paintings. In the middle of the 17th century, the room on the first floor of the tenement house was rented for the staging of theatre. Since the 80s of the 17th century, it was the seat of the charity institution "Költnische Fundat”, founded by the heirs of the former owner of the establishment - Condrad Költsch. From the old Under the Griffins Tenement House (Kamienica pod Gryfami), only a balustrade from the first floor has survived to this day.
Currently, there is the restaurant „Pod Gryfami”, a café, a wine bar and an antique shop. Under the Griffins Tenement House (Kamienica Pod Gryfami) is the most important example of Dutch Mannerism in Wrocław’s architecture.
Mock did not associate Under the Griffins Tenement House (Kamienica Pod Gryfami) with charity or with a unique architectural enterprise. At its back, at the shoemaker’s shop adhering to the backyard, he began his investigation in the case of "the calendar murderer”. This building incited negative feelings not only in Mock. In Helmut Völlinger, an astrologist and clairvoyant, who happened to sometimes play cards with Mock at the Schaal’s Chocolate Department, it incited states of anxiety. As it turned out later, these were caused by the gloomy history of the place where the building had been built, which goes back to the beginnings of the city.
(In the “Pod Gryfami” restaurant, one can eat something and relax.)
From there we move on in the direction of ul. Odrzańska.
(We will cover this distance in a minute)
„Czekoladownia Schaala” Rynek 60
This place was quite special on Counsellor Eberhard’s map, who lived by the principle primum edere, deinde philosophari. Not without reason, Mock and a couple of his friends used to really like this place, and every now and then, they dropped all of their duties and met to play a fascinating game of bridge or scat. Half of the attractiveness of such meetings, aside from the thrill that the habitual card players get when they take a pack of cards into their hands, was also provided for by the delicacies served at Schaal's. These adult, serious men could have been relishing proprietary delicacies like little boys. What made them different from the little rascals they used to be decades before were the countless number of cigarettes smoked during such a meeting. Schaal served various types of liqueurs and coffee. We already know Wrocław citizens’ weakness towards a cup of good coffee. As it turns out, they also often treated themselves with liqueurs. Abroad, Wrocław was especially famous for one called “Breslauer Kümmel” – a so-called caraway vodka. People in Berlin, Vienna and even in Moscow and the distant Constantinople relished it. Mock and his companions surely knew the taste of the caraway vodka. Currently, in the building houses “Pizzeria Dominium”.
We move on in the direction of the Salt Square (plac Solny):
(We will get there in 2 minutes)
There is an office building that used to be the seat of a bank and headquarters of many municipalities at Rynek 9-11. Currently, there is a branch of Bank BZ WBK.
As soon as the building, designed by Heinrich Rump, was established, it raised controversies. Its modernist outlook does not harmonise with the rest of the Rynek. Still, it is interesting due to its historic lift, the so-called “paternoster”. This type of lift used to be frequently found in commercial points and in public facilities all around Europe. The name comes from a rope that was used by monks in the Middle Ages to say the prayer of „Our Father” („Pater Noster”). This device is simply made of a series of open, linked as a chain and constantly moving cubicles. You get on and off the cubicle while it is in movement. Despite the fact that the lift does not go with great speed: 0.30 – 0.45 m/s, it is attributed with quite a lot of accidents. Its advantage used to be its capacity – it could carry more people than a regular lift. Today, building “paternoster” types of lifts is forbidden for safety reasons. Wrocław’s „paternoste”” lift is still active, and besides this one, in Poland there are only a few of these types of lifts left. At the same time, all of them have the status of relics of the past.
The Counsellor Mock, on his way to settle a few formalities, surely used to get on the paternoster lift in this building quite often and with a heavy heart (we can guess how Eberhard, who was very impatient, especially as he was getting older, felt when he had to do some official errands) go to a chosen floor.
Those who know the history of the Criminal Counsellor well do not need to be reminded of how the ride on the paternoster lift ended for policeman Max Forstner on an autumn day in 1934.
(For those seeking adventure, we recommend taking a ride on the paternoster lift. In the building, there is a bank, so one can easily withdraw money from the cash dispenser or check one’s bank account).
We move on to ul. Ruska, cross ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego and move on along ul. Ruska:
(We will cover this part of the route in 10 minutes)
„Pod Zielonym Polakiem” inn Ruska 64 (Reuscherstrasse 64)
If we wanted to learn about paths marked by great persons from different epochs in Wrocław, at ul. Ruska, we should pay particular attention to the house with the number 45. This is where the inn “Czerwony Dom” (Rotes Haus) was situated, in which, in 1790, Goethe stayed for a night. As we are moving along the route designated by Eberhard Mock – a drunkard and a sybarite, a wife-beater quoting Horace, a sublime gourmet and a fervent bridge player - our attention is focused further, on number 64, where in Mock’s time, there was an inn called "Pod Zielonym Polakiem”. This inn does not exist any more. Its name comes from the Middle Ages, when Polish merchants were staying at the inn situated under this address. On the signboard of the inn, there was a fat merchant with a moustache in a green caftan and a fur hat. A thickly cut slice of komiśniak – a dark, military wholemeal bread smeared with strongly spiced, chopped meat, was a speciality of "Karczma Pod Zielonym Polakiem”. And this exact breakfast set, on 15 May 1933, was eaten by Counsellor Eberhard at ul. Ruska 64. Nevertheless, he could not have indulged in the simple pleasure of eating and drinking beer, as his head was busy with his new case – the murder of Count von der Malten’s daughter.
Near to ul. Ruska, there are ul. Antoniego and ul. Pawła Włodkowica. We walk along ul. Ruska and return to the crossroads with ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego; then, we turn to the right, and from ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego, we move on in the direction of ul. Antoniego.
(It takes 5-10 minutes to cover this distance)
Ul. Antoniego/Włodkowica (Antonienstrasse/Wallstrasse)
The space between the streets used to be occupied by a Jewish inn called „Pokoyhof”. It was established at the beginning of the modern epoch. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was rebuilt, and the National Synagogue (Synagoga Krajowa) that was situated in its yard was moved to ul. Włodkowica 17. The inn was completely devastated during the Crystal Night.
Mock used to like visiting ul. Antoniego to eat or drink something. However, sometimes he did not order anything and only stood at the bar, silent and gloomy. This was the case when, in 1919, he was trying to catch a psychopath who was cruelly murdering people in order to force the Counsellor to admit to some past guilt.
(At ul. Włodkowica, there are many interesting cafés and restaurants, for example „Sarah”, „La Maddalena” and „Mleczarnia” – great places to finish our trip, situated in the yard of the White Stork Synagogue (Synagoga pod Białym Bocianem). Over coffee, tea or other drink, we can talk about the books by Marek Krajewski).
- It takes approximately 1.5 h to walk along the entire route.
- The rich gastronomic background provides for a wide selection of places to have a meal for tourists who decide to follow the trail of Eberhard Mock.
- There are many cash dispensers at the Market Square and in its vicinity.
- There are 4 public toilets along the route. Two of them are adjusted to the needs of the disabled.
The project is realised by the Sports, Tourism and Recreation Office (Biuro Sportu, Turystyki i Rekreacji) of the Wrocław Municipality (UM Wrocławia)
Route drafted by: Marta Pawlaczek
Photos by: Bartosz Mazurkiewicz