Working life is enormously important. It is not only the source of our income, but for many also the place where we realise ourselves. Work structures our days and months, if everything runs well, brings us recognition and confirmation. As we spend so much time at work, we often know our colleagues and their concerns and recognise when all is not well at home. In the last 10 years I have spent more time with some of my colleagues than with my own parents.

In the last 4 years I have spent a lot of time with Björn. Together we have worked on a very complex, cross-border case. The case was almost hopeless and the chances of success deep in the cellar. We wracked our brains in unending discussions trying to find the needle in the haystack. And the incredible happened; at 5 minutes to 12 we found the “needle”. I can remember the day very well. We were driving together by car from Zürich to Germany and discussed the idea for several hours. Every minute it became clearer that we had really found a way out.

I liked Björn a lot. For me he incorporated all the characteristics one would like to find in a colleague, a friend. He was straight as a die, absolutely honest, exceptionally fair and always reliable. He was for me the incorporation of morality, which he implemented and lived consistently. When I needed him, he responded immediately and even in the middle of the night was prepared to think through with me my crazy ideas and discuss them to the end by telephone. I liked him and admired his knowledge. It’s true that we met only a few times and always only in connection with our work. It wasn’t more than twice a year, but since our first meeting in Berlin, where we tried to solve a tricky problem, I had the feeling that I had known him for ever.

I trusted him unquestioningly and not once did he let me down. And the two of us always had a lot to laugh about. Our cooperation was simply great, characterised by mutual respect and creativity coupled with a boundless will to achieve the best result possible.

Ten days ago I received the news that he has died. I knew that it is true but refused to accept it. That simply should not be !!! I wanted to turn back the clock and to be able to tell him all that. In the past I had always thanked him, but probably I never told him how great I found him and how much I respected him. Now it’s too late. One of the omissions one can no longer make good.

I cried and I lacked the words to express my grief. An unending grief spread through my body and suffocated all my other feelings. I have many questions which I know will remain unanswered. Why did I not realise how serious his situation was? Why did I not dare to ask directly, although I knew that something was wrong with his health? Why did I not know more about his private life, although we had worked so many hours together?

Once again life seems to me unjust and unfair. And although I know that life is not just and fair, in connection with his death I was at my wits end.

Our last personal meeting together was a visit this June to the authorities. It was a good meeting, which opened new ways. We laughed a lot. In my memory there remains this picture of the laughing Björn. I am glad.

What I still owe him is to close our great case. I am doing it for us, for him. The grief for him is inside me. But also gratefulness for the time I spent with him, to have him as a colleague and reliable partner.

Dear Björn, my words will no longer reach you, for that it is too late. For the thoughts perhaps not and they have enormous power.

Good luck and don’t forget – you can always rely on me. I miss you so much!


Bildquelle: Oliver Mohr  /

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