Anton (Toni) Böhner
Anton “Toni” Böhner was born on 8th July 1919 as the youngest son of an entrepeneur family in Leverkusen, Germany. He spent his childhood and youth there in Schießbergstraße with his mother, Christine Böhner, and his father, a civil engineer. Despite the many crises that occurred during the Weimar Republic (1918–1933), his family was prosperous. His nephew Ferdinand Böhner described him as artistically talented based on his father’s stories. Like many German boys at the time, Toni Böhner was influenced by the propaganda of the Nazi regime. After the National Socialists (NSDAP) had taken power in 1933, he drew cars and aeroplanes with a swastika.
After graduating from grammar school he enlisted in the air force on 3rd November 1937. He was trained as a gunner in Berlin and then stationed in Wunstorf near Hanover. From the beginning of the war in 1939 until he was shot down on 5th March 1941, he was a co-pilot in a HEINKEL HE 111. At the age of 20 and 21, he took part in a total of 11 flights during the invasion of Poland and in five enemy flights in Flanders and Artois. In addition, Toni Boehner took part in the bombing of Great Britain in 1940/41. For these missions he received the Iron Cross I and II.
Despite his popularity in his regiment, he received a military reprimand, but the reason for this is not known. His superiors praised his military knowledge, his leadership qualities, his performance and his character. Oberleutnant Müller assessed Toni Böhner for appointment as an officer on 1st February 1941 as follows:
“Oberfeldwebel Böhner is slim, of medium height and of good physical disposition. He is mentally active and interested in many things. His character is faultless. A superficiality that could be observed in the beginning has been overcome by his education at the war school and in the officer corps of the group to a certain mental and moral maturity. His youthful freshness, his friendly, but often unpredictable nature remains unchanged.”
On 1st March 1941, just four days before his death, Toni Böhner was promoted to lieutenant. The evaluation goes on to say:
“Excellent soldier with very good military and aeronautical qualities. Well proven in war and peace.”
However, his nephew also knows about the fears that Toni Böhner had.
“Although he was firmly convinced of his mission, he was always afraid to die. He expressed great awe of the fast, single-engine British SPITFIRE fighter planes, against which his slow, lumbering bomber had no chance. He was to be proved right.”
Very likely he was shot down by a dreaded SPITFIRE on 5th March 1941.
Along with five other soldiers (including Sergeant Heinrich Alter – age 28, Lieutenant Heinz Brodowski – age 24, Sergeant Korell – age 23) crashed near Skelling Rock, Ireland.
While Toni Böhner’s body was found and initially buried in Cnockaharran, Dingle, the other soldiers are still considered missing.
He was only 21 years old when he was shot down. After an Irish postal worker noticed that his grave was covered in moss and plants, he informed the German War Graves Commission and Anton “Toni” Böhner was reburied at Glencree.
Today he lies in grave 49.
His nephew, who never got to meet his uncle, said:
“Toni Böhner, who didn’t even get to live to be 22, was one of so many unbelievably ... of a whole, senselessly sacrificed generation. A generation of the blinded. May such things never happen again.”
The text was researched and compiled by Nils Karius and Fiona Kliemann, students at Eichendorffschule Wolfsburg, Germany, during a school project 2023. The Eichendorffschule is responsible for it and takes care that the information does not violate the basic democratic idea.