Twenty Four Hours in Munich

June 2015

In June, 2015 I had an opportunity to participate in a very special service in Munich to knight the newest Holoknight, a person then known only to the 20 living Holoknights. The announcement would be made at a reception of an international meeting in optics. If you don’t already know, you must be asking, “Who and what is a Holoknight?”

Within the ranks of this elite organization are university presidents, directors of optical institutes, presidents of optical companies, chairmen of university departments, winners of prestigious awards, and, of course, pioneers in the field of holography, both men and women. But they must be much more than that to qualify as a Holoknight.

Hans Rottenkolber, the founder of the International Order of Holoknights (IOH), widely recognized and gifted pioneer and entrepreneur in the field of holography, was the friendliest, most hospitable genius I have ever met; he loved everyone, and everyone loved him. He became close friends with many of the leaders in the field of holography and laser technology.   He was convinced that scientists were in a unique position with a special opportunity to improve the world through international fellowship, not only with technology but also with a deeper friendship and hospitality.He founded IOH to start such a movement. His dream continues to evolve today.
Hans’ strategy was to create a mechanism that would connect and bring together the top experts in the field of holography in a manner that would help them become personal friends, enjoy and help each other, advance the field through cooperation, and promote cooperation between nations. IOH would have a few simple rules.

1. To maintain membership in the order, Holoknights must commit to help each other both professionally and personally in all endeavors.

2. Hans would choose and knight the first Holoknight.

3. The first Holoknight would pick and knight the second, the second would pick and knight the third, and so on.

4. Each Holoknight could only offer suggestions and advice for subsequent choices.

5. The next Holoknight should be: from a country different than his chooser. a well known expert in the field of holography. well known as friendly, fun loving, and hospitable.

6. kept secret until the knighting service, even from the one to be knighted.

7. The order should organize a knighting service each year during which the newest Holoknight would provide a sword for knighting the next Holoknight and a parchment, written in his own language signed by as many existing Holoknights as practical.

The IOH has continued with a few deviations to follow these rules, and in 2015, there are 22 Holoknights from 15 different countries, 20 of whom are living. Hans served as a role model until his death in 2008. Holoknights routinely visit each other and enjoy working together in a wide range of projects. A Holoknight opens all of his doors for hospitality to any visiting Holoknight.

The knighting service is conducted in conjunction with international optical societies, usually at society banquets and receptions during annual symposia, so typically 50 to 100 scientists witness the service. Over the years the service has developed a popular audience in the optics community, and to become a Holoknight is a coveted honor. This is an organization that would have been impossible to create and grow without the communications powers made possible by the internet.
Holoknights support the organization by participating in the services and visiting Holoknights as often as possible.  Since I was in England during this Munich knighting, traveling to Munich was not a major operation. My choice was either to spend one day in Munich just for the service or to make an extended trip.  Having travelled extensively in recent months, I chose to make this a quick one day trip. I applied a few previously learned advance preparation tricks.

My hotel was recommended by my German Holoknight friend, Wolfgang. He would meet me if I could be at the hotel by 1830. The best Munich flight arrived at 1700, so the schedule was tight. My back up plan was to hire a taxi to take me directly to the meeting.

By paying a few extra euros I sat in the first row of the Easyjet flight; I was first off the aircraft, which was 10 minutes late. Seasoned travelers know that every person in front of you at passport control can cost you minutes, so you attempt to outrun seasoned travelers; I was first at passport control and passed through without delay. Of the three ways to get into Munich, the 40 minute train would be the best, especially at rush hour, when taxis and buses would be delayed.  The S1 subway took me to the main station in Munich, which was close to my hotel. A train waiting as I purchase my ticket from a machine; I walked directly from the station to the hotel, arriving at 1810.  Wolgang and friends were waiting in the lobby. I checked in, dropped bags in the room and left with the group for the Munchen Rathaus, where the ceremony would be held in the Ratskeller. How perfect is that for timing?

Holoknight 2015

Cavaliere Pietro Ferraro (Pietro de Napoli) was knighted in Munich on 24 June, 2015, at the Munich Ratskeller, in the basement of the Rathaus (city hall), as a highlight of the reception for SPIE’s  Optical Measurements meeting. Cavaliere Ferraro is a member of Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) and Director of the Institute of Applied Sciences & Intelligent Systems.

Three holoknights at the Rathaus on the way to the Ratskeller with sword and parchment
As we had planned, Pietro was visibly shocked and delighted to have been selected as the newest Holoknight, and the audience indicated an enthusiastic agreement with the selection.

Pietro, surprised and delighted with the announcement
Photo by Sir Wolfgang Osten

Byoungho of Seoul knights Pietro Ferraro and names him Pietro di Napoli
Photo by Sir Wolfgang Osten

Byoungho of Seoul with Pietro di Napoli


Six of the seven Holoknights present
Photo by Sir Wolfgang Osten


The Parchment before signing by six holoknights

Pietro de Napoli shares the glory with his students

The sword is engraved with “Cavaliere Pietro di Napoli
After the ceremony, the Holoknights retired to Wolfgang’s hotel room to share a bottle of wine and discuss general Holoknight business.

The Holographer’s Corner- Malgorzata of Warsaw took the picture
We continued the party until about 2 AM, finally calling it quits since several of the Holoknights had 8 AM meetings to attend and talks to give the same morning. Fortunately, for me, I had no further duties.

My trip did have one other mission; that was to deliver two paintings I had promised Wolfgang. In previous years most of my German friends had requested and received a painting from me. Wolfgang was an exception. So he asked, “Why do you present paintings to everyone except me?”
“Because you have not asked me for one,” was my reply. So I presented him with a portrait of his signing a Holoknight parchment and a painting of a canal scene at Spreewald, where he had arranged for friends to visit the prior year.


Signing the parchment, 11x15, watercolor on paper 

       Spreewald, 11x15 watercolor on paper

On Thursday morning, I slept until 9 AM, had a quick breakfast, and finalized my plan to explore Munich by foot in the four hours left before returning to the airport.  I discussed the plan with the lady at the checkout, who was eager to advise me with a few enhancements. I modified the map as she made suggestions. The walk took me in the direction of the Rathaus, which is located on the town square or Marienplatz, with the intention of watching the glockenspiel in action and sketching it from the town square. I passed embassies, beautiful architecture, flowers and interesting shops, avoiding the temptation to linger too long at any one site.

A small park with fountain on the way to the Rathaus

Many of the streets of Munich are pedestrian only, making them especially attractive for walking. The sculptures and street art combined with live entertainers provide a never ending stream of entertainment during a walk.

Interesting architecture in Munich

      A Museum on the Marianplatz

Arriving at the town square shortly before noon, I observed people packing into every space, waiting on the hourly show of the glockenspiel in action. All of the seats in the sidewalk restaurants within view of the glockenspiel were taken. As is often the case, I struggled with the choice of continuing to search for new things to see or to stop and paint. I located a spot next to the bank entrance where I could stand and listen and did a quick study of the glockenspiel.

Rathaus and Glockenspiel

The streets were filled with entertainment, and the accordion man was irresistible; I watched and listened to a few sets before searching for a quiet place where I could sit and paint. Munich’s Frauenkirche, which is not far from the Marienplatz, was my next target. This church, started in 1468, sports a climbable tower offering a wide view across the rooftops of Munich and on to the Alps. Inside lies a treasure of art and interesting items such as the legendary devil’s footprint in the floor of the church. Pauline and I had visited it before and I knew it had a nice garden, where I would likely find a quiet place to sit.

Street entertainment at its best                                       Flowers and sculpture line the streets

When I reached the church I found it fully covered in scaffolding and construction equipment, but the garden near some fountains with a nice view of surrounding street cafes was quiet and inviting, and there was just time for a quick study from the garden.

Hotel Augustiner Kloster, 5x7 watercolor on paper

Following my casual walk back to the station, a 40 minute train ride to the airport, and a two hour flight, the Easyjet wheels touched down at London’s Gatwick airport almost exactly 1 day after I had left it, an amazing 24 hours.