Helmut von Werz
An Architect’s Life with Partners and Friends 1912–1990

Helmut von Werz was born in 1912 in Transylvania in what is today Brașov, his mother’s homeland. At the time, Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father, Emanuel von Werz, a general in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was stationed in many cities of the Hapsburg Empire. In WWI he was commander of the troops in Galicia and at the Isonzo river. At the end of his career, he protected the young Austrian Republic as commander of the Wiener Volkswehr.

His full name Helmut von Werz, Edler von Ostenkampf was known only to a few. To his friends he was “Puschu” all his life. At the age of 16 he came to Munich, completed his secondary school education at the Altes Realgymnasium and went on to study architecture at the Technical University. In between he dutifully completed his military service with the mountain troops in Romania. After graduating, he joined the architecture firm of Bruno Biehler in 1936, which was to shape the future career of the young architect in a lasting manner. Biehler, a successful and creative Munich-based architect with a large practice, was a member of the Association of German Architects and an important advisor on the Building Committee of the Bavarian Association for the Preservation of Local Traditions. Helmut von Werz worked for Biehler for ten years. From the beginning he was not only involved in down-to-earth construction, but also learned the practice of the preservation of local traditions from up close.

In 1946 he founded his own architectural firm in Bogenhausen. Having been familiar with landmark preservation even prior to WWII, Helmut von Werz offered his expertise as a construction consultant for the Bavarian Association for the Preservation of Local Traditions (Landesverein für Heimatpflege), reviewing construction proposals in Bavaria. Already in 1947 he was appointed to the Advisory Board and to the management board in the following year. He continued to provide construction consultancy on behalf of the Association for three decades up until 1977 – despite his busy work schedule and his many voluntary and professional functions. He identified with the objectives of the preservation of local traditions and dedicated much of his time and efforts to promoting them.

Due to his wide range of expertise, he was appointed to many more institutions: he was a founding member of the Bavarian Chamber of Architects (Bayerische Architektenkammer), followed by many years of membership in their Delegates Assembly. In addition he was a member of the Association of German Architects (BDA), the German Academy for Urban and Regional Planning (Deutschen Akademie für Städtebau und Landesplanung), the German delegation of the Union Internationale des Architectes, the Federal Heritage Board (Landesdenkmalrat) and the Urban Design Committee in Munich (Stadtgestaltungskommission München). For this function and his involvement in the reconstruction of Munich, he was awarded the “München leuchtet” (Munich shines) medal of honor by the city on his 60th birthday. In addition to other distinctions, he also received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz).

“Everyone – no matter if they were friends or co-workers or just happened to meet him once – remembers Helmut von Werz as a charming and sincere man who was very kind, generous and never lost his sense of humor. His festivities and the speeches he held will never be forgotten,” wrote his colleagues from the Association of German Architects about him, several of whom are featured in the following pages.