He was drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1939 and served until wounded during the Russian campaign in 1942 and deported back to Germany. He rarely talked about the war, but in a 2014 documentary he recounted a slaughter in the high Tatra Mountains. “My job was to shoot,” he said. “We were mountaineers. There was a barrage of bullets, and we suffered many losses. right next to me. Right in front of me.”
After being demobilized, he studied architecture at the Technical University in Munich, where he received a degree in 1946. He spent another year studying sculpture at that city’s Academy of Arts, which he later called an attempt to distance himself from his father, who considered Gottfried his successor and whom Gottfried was afraid to disappoint. Even though Mr Bohm eventually chose the path of architect, his training as a sculptor remained fundamental and would inform his most distinctive works.
After Munich, Mr Bohm returned to Cologne to work at his father’s firm, which he took over after Dominicus’ death in 1955, continuing a family business that would come to reach near-dynastic dimensions.
In 1948 he married Elisabeth Hagenmüller, an architect whom he had met when he was a student. She assisted her husband on several projects, and they remained married until his death in 2012 in the early 90s. Mr Bohm’s three sons, Stephen, Peter and Paul, all trained as architects and worked for their father’s firm in the 1980s. Nowadays they each operate an independent architecture firm under one roof, in the Cologne house built by his grandfather in 1928 and where Gottfried grew up and once maintained his office. The fourth son, Marcus, is a painter. Mr Bohm is survived by five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and an older brother, Paul, who is 102 years old.
In 1951, Mr. Bohm traveled to the US, where he worked briefly at an architectural firm in New York. During a one-month study tour in the United States, he met Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, Bauhaus masters, who became a great inspiration to him. After returning to Germany, he became a professor at the Technical University of Aachen in 1963 and held the position until 1985.