Erich Gierach

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Erich Clemens Gierach (born November 23, 1881 in Bromberg ; † December 16, 1943 in Munich ) was a German Germanist of the volkish Sudeten German movement in the first half of the 20th century, university professor in Prague and Munich, researcher, organizer and stimulator of questions the Ostforschung and the school subject History .


Erich Gierach grew up with his parents in Liberec (Reichenberg) in northern Bohemia and graduated from the grammar school there in 1887. He was a philology student at the Karl Ferdinand University in Prague, the University in Bonn and the University of Paris . In 1908 he received his doctorate in philosophy in Prague.

From 1906 to 1921 he taught the English and French languages in Reichenberg (Liberec) at the state commercial academy that opened in 1892, and women were also admitted to vocational training after 1918 (the establishment of Czechoslovakia ). There Gierach founded a "Society for Sudeten German Local Research", promoted it by publishing his research results and was its chairman after 1936.

In 1921, as the successor to Primus Lessiak, he received the professorship for older German philology at the German university in Prague . This position gave him, together with the theologian and church historian August Naegle , the specialist in paleography Carl Wehmer (1903–1978), head of the state and university library in Prague, the opportunity to intensify the so-called popular education work . A group of ethnic German historians gathered for their scientifically sound results. With the folklorist Emil Lehmann he organized a "Society for German National Education", which in 1932 called itself "Goetheheim" and became a center of the ethnic movement of Sudeten German ethnic groups . Between 1925 and 1933 he and Lehmann organized Sudeten German “regular meetings”, also known as “culture weeks”, in Reichenberg, Troppau , Hohenelbe , Mährisch-Schönberg , Braunau , Gablonz , Neu-Titschein , Ratibor and Jägerndorf . Since 1935 he was a member of the Sudeten German Party , which after 1938 was incorporated into the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP).

In 1936, Erich Gierach was offered a professorship for German studies at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich . In Munich he also became a member of the " Sudeten German Freikorps " and after the Sudeten crisis and the Munich Agreement in 1938 he participated in the military occupation of Czechoslovakia by troops of the German Empire. He died in Munich in 1943 during the air raids on Munich in World War II.

Gierach was one of the most important Germanists of the Nazi era . In 1938, on the occasion of the annexation of the Sudetenland, he published the book Germanen in the Sudetenländer . Since 1939 Gierach was a member of the NSDAP. In 1941 the anthology Wissenschaft im Volkstumskampf was published , which Kurt Oberdorffer , Bruno Schier and Wilhelm Wostry had put together as a commemorative publication for his 60th birthday. He was a member of the academies in Vienna , Göttingen and Munich and was recognized by the Austrian linguist Eberhard Kranzmayer .


Even after 1945, the end of the Second World War and the expulsion of the Germans from Czechoslovakia into the 1990s, Gierach was recognized by expellees' associations as the “patriarch of Sudeten Germanism”. A staunch supporter of Gierach over these years was Bruno Schier , member of the Collegium Carolinum (Institute) , research center for the history of the Bohemian countries in Munich, who paid tribute to him in 1962 in his journal Bohemia with the following words: While large circles remained in perplexity and despair, Gierach gathered a crowd of like-minded people around him who strived for political unification and liberation of Sudeten Germanism by demanding the promised but withheld right to self-determination . In this battle, which could only be waged with intellectual weapons, Gierach fearlessly defended the Sudeten Germans' homeland rights against the claims of Czech imperialism in several scientific pamphlets .

His academic achievement culminated in the Middle High German textual criticism, his particular preference is on the one hand local studies and research into German cultural achievements in the Sudeten countries, on the other hand popular education. ( Emil Lehmann )

In the Soviet occupation zone after 1945, Gierach's Sudeten German Catechism (1939) and the Bohemia and Moravia in the German Reich (1939), which he wrote together with Karl Christian von Loesch , were placed on the list of literature to be segregated. In the subsequent German Democratic Republic (GDR) this list was followed by the Catechism for the German People in Bohemia (1919) and From Bohemia's German Past (1923) as well as the Festschrift for Gierach.


Fonts (selection)

  • On the language of Eilhart's Tristrant . Form theory and vocabulary according to the rhymes. With an appendix, 1906
  • Syncope and Gradations , 1910
  • From Bohemia's German past , 1919
  • Catechism for the Sudeten Germans , fifth edition (31st – 50th thousand), 1920
  • Local history of the districts Friedland, Reichenberg, Gablonz and Dt. Gabel , 1924 ff.
  • Local history of the Friedland district in Bohemia , published together with Joseph Schubert, Friedland 1927 ff.
  • Carpathian Country . Quarterly journal for history, folklore and culture in the northern Carpathian countries, published together with Josef Hanika , 1928
  • Old High German literature in Bohemia , 1929
  • The Middle High German poets of Bohemia. In: The German literature of the Middle Ages, author's lexicon, 1931 ff.
  • Liebenau, a German city foundation. In: "The Bund" Komotau 2, 1932
  • Sudeten German field name book , 1935
  • The creation of the Friedland rule. In: Communications from the Association for the History of Germans in Böhmen 73, 1935, pp. 138–146
  • The place names of the Friedland district. In: Communications of the Association for Local Studies of the Jeschken-Iser-Gaues 29 (1935), pp. 43–64, 100–123, 145–156 and 30 (1936), pp. 3–30
  • Sudeten German City Stories , 1937
  • The German poetry of the Sudetenland in the Middle Ages. In: Das Sudetendeutschtum, 1937
  • Bohemia and Moravia in the Reich, together with Karl Christian von Loesch , 1939
  • Paul's Middle High German Grammar , 12th - 14th edition, 1929–1940
  • Contributions to the knowledge of Sudeten German dialects , 1926 ff.
  • Hartmann von Aue : The poor Heinrich : Tradition and production (= Germanic library. Dept. 3: Critical editions of old German texts. Vol. 3). Edited by Erich Gierach. Winter, Heidelberg 1913; 2nd, improved edition 1925.
  • The fairytale book. The Klosterneuburg manuscript 713 (= German texts of the Middle Ages. Vol. 32). Edited by Erich Gierach. Weidmann, Berlin 1928.
  • Sudeten German Dictionary . 1982 ff. (Preliminary work with Ernst Schwarz ).
  • Teutons in Slovakia . In: Researches and Advances. News sheet of German science and technology, 1940
  • Research on Bavarian dialectology , 1942
  • German poetry of the East in the Middle Ages . Reprint from Deutsche Ostforschung , 1942
  • The settlement of the Jeschken-Iser-Gaues. In: Schlesisches Jahrbuch 1966


  • Heribert Sturm : Biographical lexicon on the history of the Bohemian countries. Ed. On behalf of the Collegium Carolinum (Institute) , Vol. 1, R. Oldenbourg Verlag , Munich 1979 ISBN 3-486-49491-0 p. 436
  • Wilhelm Kosch : Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon , Biographisches und Bibliographisches Handbuch Vol. 6. Francke, Bern 1978 ISBN 3-7720-1283-3
  • Almanac of the Academy of Sciences, Vienna 1944, p. 212 ff.
  • Gierach Erich Clemens. In: Austrian Biographical Lexicon 1815–1950 (ÖBL). Volume 1, Publishing House of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 1957, p. 438 f. (Direct links on p. 438 , p. 439 ).
  • Bruno Schier : Erich Gierach in memory, November 23, 1881-16. December 1943. In: Bohemia , Vol. 3 (1962) pp. 571-577 ( digitized ).
  • Sudetendeutsche Monatshefte, SM, 1944, 2 ff.
  • Sudetendeutsches Jahrbuch, 1 (1925 ff.), Previously Böhmerland Jahrbuch, 1931, p. 86 ff.
  • Kurt Oberdorffer , Bruno Schier , Wilhelm Wostry : Science in the national struggle. Festschrift for the 60th birthday. 1941, with a catalog of works
  • Erich Gierach: Short biography in Randolf Gränzer, Reichenberg. City and country in the Neißetal. A home book. Edited by Heimatkreis Reichenberg, Augsburg 1974, p. 229
  • Heinrich Kuhn: Sudeten Germanism yesterday and today. An all-German obligation. Aufstieg-Verlag, Munich 1986
  • Gerd Simon : The lofty plans of a “non-official minister of culture”: Erich Gierach's “Fachwortbuch der Germanenkunde . (Dictionaries in the 3rd Reich, 1) Verlag der Gesellschaft für interdisciplinary Research, Tübingen 1998
  • Volker Lang: Erich Gierach's publications on Germanic-Slavic language contact as a means of propaganda against the First Czechoslovak Republic 1918–1938. Master's thesis, University of Mannheim, 1996

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Ernst Klee : The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 183.
  2. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 92.
  6. ^ Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff Prize