Edzard Schaper

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ernst Edzard Helmuth Schaper (born September 30, 1908 in Ostrowo , † January 29, 1984 in Bern ) was a German writer and translator .


Edzard Schaper was born the eleventh child of a military officer in the province of Poznan . After his father escaped from Polish captivity, the family moved to Hanover in 1922 , where the young Schaper attended the Humboldt Gymnasium and the Conservatory for Music ( piano ). He broke off both training courses (high school before graduation in 1925) and became an assistant director at the Stuttgart Opera . From 1927 to 1929 he lived in Denmark on the island of Christiansø and wrote his first literary works. He continued his restless life, which he had taken up in the meantime, from 1930 to 1931 as a gardening assistant and then as a sailor on a fish steamer. In 1932 he met the German-Baltic woman Alice Pergelbaum while passing through Berlin, moved to Estonia with her and married her. The couple had two daughters and lived in Reval , where Schaper had worked as a freelance writer and journalist for the US news agency United Press .

In 1936 Edzard Schaper was expelled from the Reichsschrifttumskammer , thus preventing the distribution of his books in Germany. After the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 , he escaped arrest by fleeing to Finland . He had worked for Finnish espionage, which is why he was sentenced to death by the Soviets.

There he worked as a German foreign correspondent and wrote articles for the Berliner Börsenzeitung and the German-language front newspaper "Karelien-Kurier". Later he was a war correspondent on the so-called Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union that began in June 1941 . In 1943 he “simply volunteered to join the troops in order to end up in the information office of the Finnish government ( military secret service )."

In September 1944 Schaper took Finnish citizenship ; later on December 22, 1944, he was sentenced to death by the German People's Court for having been mistaken for a Soviet spy. Shortly afterwards, after Finland and the Soviet Union agreed a ceasefire , he fled to Sweden . Here he hired himself as a forest worker, translator and secretary for a prisoner's relief organization. In 1947 he moved from Sweden to Switzerland , where he received citizenship and settled in Münster in the Upper Valais . In 1951 he converted to the Roman Catholic Church . In the post-war period, Schaper was a widely read author who also gave lectures and worked for radio and television .

Artistic creation

Schaper's literary work includes the novels The Last Guest (1927), The Confessions of the Forester Patrik Doyle (1928), The Dying Church (1936) or The Executioner (1940; later under the title They mowed the seeds armed , an allusion to the Teutonic Knights), which were published almost without exception in Germany by Insel Verlag . He is particularly interested in people in borderline situations, which means that he often derives religious aspects and teachings from his stories, which he mostly tries to convey across denominations. In this context, Schaper is also part of the Renouveau catholique, despite the general validity of his statements . The Russian legend, The Fourth King (1961), which Schaper developed into a novel, is "one of the few significant literary legends of the 20th century".

The early novels “The Last Guest” (1927) and “The Confessions of Forester Patrik Doyle” (1929) were published by Adolf Bonz Verlag in Stuttgart. After moving to Tallinn / Estonia and marriage to Alice Pergelbaum, who was born in Tsarist St. Petersburg (1932), he became the author of the Leipziger Insel Verlag . Here he published under the editing of Katharina Kippenberg u. a. the novels “The Island of Tütarsaar” (1933), “The Dying Church” (1936) and the voluminous novel “The Executioner” (1940). The book describes the life of the Estonians before the First World War in the field of tension between noble Baltic Germans and Russian attempts at annexation. Schaper's novel was not received in Germany in 1940, and the attempt to establish it under a new title "They mowed the seeds armed" (1949) failed. It was only through the translation into Estonian (“Timurkas”) and the work of the Estonian cultural scientist Liina Lukas that the work was rediscovered after the liberation from the Russian occupation of Estonia.

When the novel "The Executioner" appeared, Schaper was already on the run from the National Socialists to Finland. Uwe Wolff found no support in a basic biography of Schaper's life and work for the claim that appeared in earlier works that Schaper's works from Insel Verlag were positively discussed in the “Völkischer Beobachter” . Rather, the family was subjected to a variety of repression, not least because Schaper's sisters were married to Jewish men: Schaper's sister Helene was married to the Jewish doctor Paul Walter Wolff. He succumbed to his injuries after an attack in the night of the pogrom on November 9, 1938. Frieda Wilhelmine Schaper was married to the architect Ernst Guggenheimer, who built the Stuttgart synagogue. She was able to hide him in Grän-Haldensee / Tirol, where he survived the period of Nazi terror. Edzard's brother Karl Günther had left Germany in 1935.

The narrator also has a preference for the historical novel . The much-noticed early novel Die dying Kirche during the October Revolution , Der Gouverneur (1954) in the 18th century and the related works The Freedom of the Prisoner and The Power of the Powerless (1950/1951) are set in Napoleon's France . The Baltic States and Eastern Europe are frequent locations for the novels set in the first half of the 20th century. His last important novel, Degenhall , was published in 1975.

Schaper's language is deliberately anachronistic . This conservative style of language also makes up part of the literary quality of his texts, especially in the historical novels.


Primarily for the Christophorus-Verlag, Schaper mainly spoke texts on religious topics on record , including The Fourth King or shorter texts such as Christmas Night . During this activity, his pleasant deep voice and his experience as an actor met him.

Awards and honors



  • The last guest . Bonz, Stuttgart 1927.
  • The Confessions of Forester Patrik Doyle . Bonz, Stuttgart 1928.
  • The island of Tütarsaar . Insel, Leipzig 1933.
  • Earth over the sea. Novel of a struggling youth . The book community, Berlin 1934.
  • The dying church . Insel, Leipzig 1935.
  • The hangman . Insel, Leipzig 1940; Revised new edition: Artemis, Zurich 1978, ISBN 3-7608-0492-6 .
  • The last advent . Atlantis, Freiburg 1949.
  • The prisoner's freedom . Hegner, Cologne 1950.
  • The power of the powerless . Hegner, Cologne 1952.
  • The Governor or The Blissful Debtor . Hegner, Cologne 1954.
  • The last world . Hegner, Cologne 1956.
  • Assassination attempt on the mighty . Fischer , Frankfurt am Main 1957 ( filmed in 1969 by Herbert Ballmann ).
  • The animal or the story of a bear called Oskar . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1958.
  • The fourth king . Hegner, Cologne 1961; Artemis, Zurich 1977, ISBN 3-7608-0964-2 .
  • The riot of the righteous. A chronicle . Hegner, Cologne 1963.
  • In the evening of time . Hegner, Cologne 1970, ISBN 3-7764-0114-1 .
  • Tauride Games . Hegner, Cologne 1971, ISBN 3-7764-0189-3 .
  • Sparrow battle . Hegner, Cologne 1972, ISBN 3-7764-0202-4 .
  • Degenhall . Artemis, Zurich 1975, ISBN 3-7608-0986-3 .
  • The journey under the evening star . Artemis, Zurich 1976, ISBN 3-7608-0987-1 .


  • The ark that was wrecked . Insel Verlag , Leipzig 1935 ( Insel-Bücherei 471/1)
  • The song of the fathers . Insel Verlag, Leipzig 1937 (Insel-Bücherei 514/1)
  • The three kings . Arche , Zurich 1945
  • Semyon going out to fetch the light. A Christmas story from old Estonia . Reinhardt, Basel 1947.
    • Reissued as: Star over the border . Hegner, Cologne 1950.
  • The great manifest day. A friend's story . Summa, Olten 1949; Reclam ( UB 8018), Stuttgart 1972, ISBN 3-15-008018-5 .
  • Norwegian trip . Arche, Zurich 1951.
  • The Christ Child from the great forests . With 10 drawings by Richard Seewald . Hegner, Cologne 1954; Artemis & Winkler, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-7608-0954-5
  • Nicodemus . Arche, Zurich 1952.
  • Behind the lines . Stories. Hegner, Cologne 1952.
  • The mantle of mercy . Hegner, Cologne 1953.
  • Around the ninth hour or Nicodemus and Simon . Hegner, Cologne 1953.
  • The reunion and the crucified deacon . Hegner, Cologne 1957.
  • Innocence of sin . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1957.
  • The confederates of summer. The descendants of Petri . Two stories. Hegner, Cologne 1958.
  • The ghost train . Hegner, Cologne 1959; as dtv paperback, Munich 1968.
  • The sons of Job . Hegner, Cologne 1962.
  • Dragoon story . Novella. Hegner, Cologne 1963.
  • Fates and adventures. Stories from many lives . Ten new stories. Hegner, Cologne 1968.
  • Shadow court . Four new stories. Hegner, Cologne 1967.
  • The home of the exiles . Hegner, Cologne 1968.

Essays, speeches

  • The person in the cell. Poetry and interpretation of the captive man . Hegner, Cologne 1951.
  • The sense of old age. A consideration . Arche, Zurich 1952.
  • Downfall and transformation. Contemplations and speeches . Arche, Zurich 1952.
  • Explorations in yesterday and tomorrow . Arche, Zurich 1956.
  • Citizens in time and eternity. Answers . Marion von Schröder, Hamburg 1956.
  • The waste from people . Two lectures. Walter, Olten 1961.
  • Veiled altars . Speeches. Hegner, Cologne 1962.
  • Escape and stay. A word to the Germans who have fled and expelled . Hegner, Cologne 1965.
  • One bear the other's burden. An elegy on the last porter . Arche, Zurich 1965.
  • Risk of the present . Essays. Cross, Stuttgart 1965.
  • About honesty . Essay. Hegner, Cologne 1967.


  • The life of Jesus . Insel, Leipzig 1936.
    • From it as a single edition: The Christmas story . Arche, Zurich 1950.
  • The hero. Way and madness Karl XII. , 1958.

Radio plays and dramas

  • The embassy prisoner . Three pieces (with Strict Farewell. And The Cossacks or where is your brother Abel ). Afterword by Max Wehrli . Hegner, Cologne 1964.
  • The fire of Christ. Life and death of Johannes Hus in seventeen dramatic scenes . Cross, Stuttgart 1965.


  • The lost fairy tale . Film about the difficulty of telling Christmas stories today. A film by Edzard Schaper, directed by Gaudenz Meili and Eduard Stäuble (author), produced by Swiss television DRS, 1967. The film was shot in Münster and was broadcast on Swiss television at Christmas 1967 and 1971 in black and white.


  • Power and freedom . Two novels ( The Freedom of the Prisoner - The Power of the Powerless ). Hegner ( The Books of the Nineteen 82), Cologne 1961; Kerle, Freiburg 1983, ISBN 3-600-30105-5 .
  • Collected stories . Hegner, Cologne 1965.
    • extended new edition as: Stories from many lives . All the stories. Artemis, Zurich 1977, ISBN 3-7608-0989-8 .
  • Uprising and surrender . 3 novels ( Assassination of the Mighty - The Last World - The Riot of the Righteous ). Hegner, Cologne 1973, ISBN 3-7764-0208-3 .
  • Boundary lines . A selection from his work. Edited by Matthias Wörther. Essay by Werner Ross . Artemis, Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-7608-0700-3 .



in order of appearance

  • Elmar Heimgartner: The stories of Edzard Schaper. Dissertation Zurich 1958.
  • Sybrand Abraham Brink: The religious content of the novels and stories Edzard Schapers. Stellenbosch University 1967 (Master's thesis).
  • Lutz Besch: Conversations with Edzard Schaper . Arche, Zurich 1968.
  • Max Wehrli: Thanks to Edzard Schaper. Hegner, Cologne 1968.
  • Irène Sonderegger-Kummer: Transparency of Reality. Edzard Schaper and the inner tension in Christian literature of the twentieth century. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1971, ISBN 3-11-001845-4 .
  • Wolfdietrich von KloedenEdzard Schaper. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 8, Bautz, Herzberg 1994, ISBN 3-88309-053-0 , Sp. 1593-1598.
  • Frank-Lothar Kroll (ed.): Word and poetry as a place of refuge in difficult times. (to Werner Bergengruen, Ernst Wiechert and Edzard Schaper). Mann, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-7861-1816-7 .
  • Armin von Ungern-Sternberg: "This primitive epic"? On Edzard Schaper's narrative behavior . In: In: Triangulum. Germanistic Yearbook 1998 for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania , vol. 5, special issue: Edzard Schaper . Edited by Karl Lepa and Claus Sommerhage. Tartu 1998, pp. 148-179.
  • Edzard Schaper and Estonia . Bibliotheca Baltica, 1999, ISBN 9985-800-19-2 .
  • Iso Baumer et al: approximations. Edzard Schaper rediscovered? Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2000, ISBN 3-7965-1559-2 (= texts and studies of the work center for cultural studies , vol. 3).
  • Arnulf Otto-Sprunck: Risk of the Present. National Socialism, Bolshevism and the Christian image of man in Edzard Schaper's work. In: The Totalitarian Experience. German literature and the Third Reich . Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11277-6 , pp. 303-315.
  • Michael GarleffSchaper, Ernst-Edzard Hellmuth. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , p. 561 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Carola L. Gottzmann / Petra Hörner: Lexicon of the German-language literature of the Baltic States and St. Petersburg . 3 volumes; Verlag Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2007. ISBN 978-3-11019338-1 . Volume 3, pp. 1117-1128.

References and footnotes

  1. a b baptismal name according to Uwe Wolff: Edzard Schaper - A biographical insight
  2. Arnulf Otto-Sprunck: Schaper, Edzard in the culture portal West East.
  3. Rea Imboden: Edzard Schaper in Switzerland . In: approximations. Edzard Schaper rediscovered? Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2000, ISBN 3-7965-1559-2 (= texts and studies of the work center for cultural studies , vol. 3). Pp. 35-53.
  4. ^ Hans-Werner Rautenberg: The expulsion from the German east and the cultural elite . In: Günther Schulz (Ed.): Displaced elites. Displacement and persecution of ruling classes in the 20th century . Boldt / Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-56577-X , pp. 267–287, here p. 273.
  5. Michael Karger: He sowed his tears in the strange earth. Edzard Schaper and the legend of the fourth king . In: Die Tagespost of January 2, 2002, p. 12.
  6. The film adaptation of Oda Schaefer's life by Chris Kraus in the film “ Poll ” (2010) similarly depicts the political scenario of those years.
  7. See the following articles by Liina Lukas:
    • Borderlands - an Estonian leitmotif in Edzard Schaper's work. In: Interlitteraria. 1/1996, pp. 126-144.
    • Frontier workers. Edzard Schaper on his 90th birthday. In: Liina Lukas (Ed.): We are Europe too! Edzard Schaper 1908-1984. Tartu 1998, pp. 21-25.
    • Between despair and responsibility. Transcendance in Edzard Schaper's work. In: Triangulum. Germanistic Yearbook 1998 for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania , vol. 5, special issue: Edzard Schaper . Edited by Karl Lepa and Claus Sommerhage. Tartu 1998, pp. 180-191.
    • Between hammer and anvil. Edzard Schaper on the border between east and west. In: Frank-Lothar Kroll (ed.): German authors of the East as opponents and victims of National Socialism. Contributions to the problem of resistance. Duncker & Humblot Verlag, Berlin 1999, pp. 437-450.
    • “Don't forget us! We are Europe too! ”A mediator between Estonia and Switzerland: Edzard Schaper on his 90th birthday. In: approximations. Edzard Schaper rediscovered? Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2000, ISBN 3-7965-1559-2 (= texts and studies of the work center for cultural studies , vol. 3). Pp. 13-19.
  8. See Uwe Wolff: The fourth king is alive! P. 149ff.
  9. Uwe Wolff: The fourth king is alive!
  10. Uwe Wolff: The fourth king is alive! P. 154.
  11. Michael Garleff: On the historical image in Edzard Schaper's late work . In: Karol Sauerland, Ernst Gierlich (ed.): Edzard Schapers view of the totalitarianisms of his time. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2014, 105–119.
  12. ^ Gero von Wilpert : German Baltic Literature History . CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-53525-9 , p. 250.
  13. ^ TV Programs Wiki, December 24, 1971
  14. Feuille d'Avis du Valais , No. 264, 1967, p. 7 (PDF; 609 kB)

Web links