Ernst Haeckel

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ernst Haeckel
Signature Ernst Haeckel.PNG
Discomedusae: panel no. 8 from Kunstformen der Natur , 1899.
Haeckel described and drew jellyfish (medusa) and other marine organisms. He named a particularly beautiful species that can be seen here after his first wife Anna Sethe: Desmonema annasethe .

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (* 16th February 1834 in Potsdam ; † 9. August 1919 in Jena ) was a German physician , zoologist , philosopher , artist and free-thinkers , the ideas from the 1860s, Charles Darwin to a particular theory of evolution goal for . Through his popular writings and lectures, he made a great contribution to the spread of Darwinism in Germany, which, unlike his teacher Rudolf Virchow and his opponent Emil Heinrich Du Bois-Reymond , he wanted to see integrated into school lessons. In addition, he developed a detailed embryological argumentation for the theory of evolution and in this context formulated the basic biogenetic law .

Ernst Haeckel became a professor of comparative anatomy shortly after his time as a medical assistant . He coined some of today's common terms in biology such as strain or ecology . He also called politics applied biology. He propagated the developmental monism with the claim of a natural philosophical worldview based on natural science and was the head and identification figure (contemporary monist pope ) of the associated movement , which was organized in the German Monist Association in Jena from 1906 .

In the context of his struggle with the transferability of racial categories to the social development of man, Haeckel - here the clear opponent of his teacher Virchow - is one of the ultimately decided representatives of a “eugenic” social policy. Because of his considerations on the "artificial breeding" of humans in modern societies, Haeckel is regarded as a pioneer of eugenics and racial hygiene in Germany. National Socialist ideologues later used excerpts of his statements as a justification for their racism and social Darwinism , but at the same time declared essential parts of Haeckel's worldview as incompatible with the völkisch - biological view of National Socialism.


Ernst Haeckel

Childhood and youth

Ernst Haeckel was born in 1834 as the second son of the Prussian lawyer and civil servant Carl Haeckel and his wife Charlotte, b. Sethe, daughter of Christoph von Sethe , was born. One year after Haeckel's birth, the family moved to Merseburg , a district capital in the province of Saxony , where he attended the community school and then the local cathedral high school. Due to the scientific interests of his father and the targeted support of his teacher Otto Gandters, Haeckel came into contact early on with the writings of Matthias Jacob Schleiden , Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin . According to an autobiographical sketch, the travel literature of Humboldt and Darwin in particular was decisive for Haeckel's later career choice.


After graduating from high school in 1852, Haeckel began studying medicine in Berlin , but in the same year, at his father's insistence, switched to the University of Würzburg , whose medical faculty had an excellent reputation thanks to professors Albert von Kölliker , Franz von Leydig and Rudolf Virchow . In the summer semester of 1854 he re-enrolled at the University of Berlin.

The cellular pathology designed by Virchow became a crucial element in Haeckel's thinking (but a personal friendship never developed between Haeckel and Virchow). In deliberate differentiation from the idealistic natural philosophy , Virchow explained that all bodily functions can be explained by the interaction of the cells. Haeckel took this approach as offensively materialistic , since it managed without the assumption of an immaterial life force and explained the body mechanistically through its composition. Haeckel was enthusiastic about Virchow's empirical explanations, but at the same time saw them as a danger to his faith. In a letter to his aunt Bertha, written in 1856, Haeckel explained that one had to distinguish between the areas of knowledge and belief, since even the most successful scientific explanations reached their limits. The Christian faith begins at this limit.

In 1856 Haeckel became an assistant doctor at Virchow in Würzburg. He received his doctorate in medicine on March 7, 1857 in Berlin. The processed topic was: "De telis quibusdam astaci fluviatilis" (About the tissues of the crayfish). In order to improve himself further in the clinical subjects, he then went to Vienna. He did not return to Berlin until August, and on March 17, 1858, he was granted his license to practice medicine, surgeon and obstetrician. In order to satisfy his father's wishes, he opened a doctor's practice in his parents' house, but it did not exist for a long time.

Orientation towards science

After completing his medical degree, Ernst Haeckel had planned to do his habilitation with the physiologist, marine biologist, comparative anatomist and natural philosopher Johannes Müller in Berlin, where Haeckel had been a freshman for a short time. The surprising death of Müller, which Haeckel interpreted as a suicide , forced Haeckel to change his plans. Carl Gegenbaur , a friend from Würzburg and a newly appointed professor in Jena, invited Ernst Haeckel to Jena in May. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Jena University, he was there again and here he was given the prospect of an academic career in a confidential meeting with the curator. First, however, Carl Gegenbauer Haeckel suggested a trip to Italy together, which should serve both the ideal of an educational trip and the preparation for the habilitation. Haeckel agreed, but ultimately had to leave without the sick Gegenbaur. The first part of his journey was not particularly successful. Repelled by religious art, processions and the papacy, Haeckel wrote to his fiancée Anna Sethe that he would certainly become a pagan if he stayed for a long time in Rome. The stay on the Gulf of Naples was initially determined by setbacks, and Haeckel turned to art under the influence of Hermann Allmer . It was not until November 1859 that Haeckel decided to devote himself to radiolarians , a group of single-celled animals that Johannes Müller had been working on immediately before his death. In a short time, Haeckel collected 101 new species.

Successful science career

Already one year after its publication (1859) he read Charles Darwin's " On the Origin of Species " with great inner enthusiasm . In 1861 Ernst Haeckel received his habilitation for the subject of comparative anatomy in Jena with the text De Rizopodum finibus et ordinibus dealing with the radiation animals (“Rhizopoda radiata”) . At the same time he became an associate professor at the University of Jena and in the winter semester of 1862 gave the first lecture on Darwin's theory of evolution, the origin of species. He spoke on the same topic on the occasion of the 38th meeting of German naturalists and doctors on September 19, 1863. In explaining the principles of Darwin's doctrine, he went one step further than Darwin himself at that time and closed the arc to descent of man and the emergence of the first forms of life on earth. He considered the "threefold parallel between the embryological, the systematic and the palaeontological development of organisms" to be proof of the truth of the theory of evolution. In the same year, on December 20, he was accepted into the Imperial Leopoldin-Carolinische Deutsche Academie. Overall, Haeckel was incredibly hard-working. Especially after the death of his first wife Anna (1864), who unexpectedly died of an abdominal infection, he threw himself into his research, often working more than 18 hours a day. In 1865 he received an honorary doctorate in philosophy and a full professorship for zoology in Jena, which at that time belonged to the philosophy faculty. In the following year his "General Morphology of Organisms" appeared.

From 1866 to 1867 Haeckel made a trip to the Canary Islands and took part in the first winter ascent of Teide . On the outward journey, which took him via London, he met Charles Darwin , Thomas Huxley and Charles Lyell for the first time on October 21, 1866 . "I found" Haeckel announced in a subsequent letter to his friends, "Darwin and also Huxley just as I imagined after our correspondence."

On August 20, 1867, Haeckel and Agnes Huschke, the daughter of the anatomist, zoologist and embryologist Emil Huschke (1797-1858), married. This marriage had three children: the son Walter was born in 1868, the daughter Elisabeth in 1871 and the daughter Emma in 1873. Elisabeth married the professor, geographer and explorer Hans Meyer in 1891 . His grandfather and father were the owners of Lexika-Verlag Leipzig ( Meyers Konversations-Lexikon ).

Shortly after his return from the Canary Islands, Haeckel's “Natural History of Creation” appeared, in which the basic statements of general morphology were disseminated in a popular and scientific form. His aim was to explain to a readership, including those with elementary school education, that this was a change in the way mankind thought about its own origins and development. A few years later (1889) the 8th edition of this book was already available in two volumes. In 1869 he traveled to Norway , in 1871 to Dalmatia , in 1873 to Egypt , Turkey and Greece . The main focus here was on investigations into the animal strains of calcareous sponges, corals and echinoderms. As a result of these research trips, the three-volume monograph “Die Kalkschwämme (Calcispongae)” was published in 1872 with an atlas of over 60 plates. For the first time Haeckel coined the term "Biogenetic Basic Law". With the help of his research results on the individual stages of development of the sponges, he for the first time deciphered the truth of the natural principle of the development of all higher animal species and thus enabled the further development of Darwin's theory. Darwin, too, had finally given up his earlier reluctance on the question of human origins with the work “ The Descent of Man and Sexual Selection ” published in 1871 .

From 1876 onwards, Haeckel was prorector of the University of Jena and undertook numerous lecture tours through Germany in order to further popularize the new scientific discoveries on the theory of evolution. A second meeting with Charles Darwin took place in October of the same year. Again he also appeared at the periodically held "Meetings of German Natural Scientists and Doctors". At the 50th meeting of this group in Munich, his lecture was entitled "Today's development theory in relation to overall science". When he discussed the importance of the concept of development for the other sciences, especially biology, he got into controversy with his revered teacher and former supporter Rudolf Virchow . He discussed the animal ancestry of humans in detail and demanded that this teaching be incorporated into the educational resources of schools. It was precisely this that Virchow questioned, subordinated the evolution theory to tendencies endangering the state and refused his support through his political authority to promote the opening of school laws in this direction. But there was also increasing resistance from church-oriented circles, as a result of which the writings of Darwin and Haeckel were finally banned from higher schools. In the end, in 1882, even biology teaching in the upper grades was abolished by law in Prussia.

Ernst Haeckel made further trips from 1879 to England and Scotland, where he met Charles Darwin . At this meeting, Haeckel's conviction grew stronger that Darwin was now acting withdrawn from the rest of scientific life. Darwin's public appearances could be counted on one hand, and the hype surrounding him could only be seen from a great distance. Haeckel concluded from this that he himself had to do more to bring the groundbreaking findings that were important to him to the public. Despite the grueling struggles over the idea of ​​development and the increase in his popular science activities, Ernst Haeckel did not neglect his own research work. From 1881 to 1882 Haeckel first traveled to the tropics, including the island of Ceylon . During this trip he learned of Charles Darwin's death on April 20, 1882. After his return, Haeckel, at the 55th meeting of German naturalists in Eisenach in September 1882, in his lecture dedicated to the memory of Darwin, called for the theory of evolution to be published more widely and introduced as school material .

In the years from 1882 to 1883 a zoological institute was set up at the University of Jena and the future house of Ernst Haeckel, the "Villa Medusa" in Jena Berggasse 7, was built. From the winter semester of 1884 he was vice-rector of the university for the second time. In the same year he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh . On January 7, 1885, Paul von Ritter (1825–1915) donated Haeckel 300,000 Reichsmarks in honor of the University of Jena. Two extraordinary offices were established: in 1886 the knight professorship for phylogeny and in 1894 the Haeckel professorship for geology and palaeontology . In 1889, Ernst Haeckel completed the three-volume monograph on Medusa that began in 1879. The basis for this was the material from the English deep-sea expedition Challenger expedition from the years 1872–1876. Haeckel was one of the 76 selected scientists to whom the material had been given for evaluation.

The study in the Villa Medusa, Jena, 2007

In 1887 Haeckel traveled to Palestine , Syria and Asia Minor , in 1890 to Algeria , in 1897 through southern Finland and Russia , in 1899 to Corsica and in 1900 for the second time to the tropics . During this time, his friendship with Frida von Uslar-Gleichen (1864–1903) began.

Ernst Haeckel was also politically active: He was a co-founder of the Pan-German Association and in 1905 became an honorary member of the Society for Racial Hygiene , and from 1889 he was also an honorary member of the corporate "Medical Association" of the University of Jena (today Landsmannschaft Rhenania zu Jena and Marburg ).

In order to spread his monistic worldview, Haeckel founded the Monist Association at the Jena Zoological Institute in 1906. In addition, he campaigned strongly for pacifism , for example by signing an "Appeal for the Establishment of an Association for International Understanding " published in German newspapers in 1910 together with other important personalities such as Friedrich Naumann and Max Weber , which was supposed to promote agreements with other nations, to guarantee world peace.

In 1907 the researcher made his last big trip to Sweden . In 1908 Ernst Haeckel donated the Phyletic Museum in Jena. One year later, in 1909, Haeckel's teaching activity ended and he resigned from the Protestant Church in 1910 . As a justification for this step, he published the article “My exit from the church” and substantiated his arguments with the text “Sandalion. An open response to the forgeries of the Jesuits “in the same year.

His wife Agnes died in 1915. During this time, Haeckel's frailty increased considerably. In a fall, he suffered a fractured femoral neck , a broken arm and could only move forward with crutches. In 1918 he then sold the Villa Medusa to the Carl Zeiss Foundation . Ernst Haeckel died on August 9, 1919 in this villa in Jena.

The main works

General Morphology of Organisms (Berlin 1866): In this work Haeckel defined the term ecology

Marine Biological Monographs

Haeckel's works, which established his reputation in the professional world, are fundamental marine biological monographs on radiolarians (1862, 1887), lime sponges (1872), medusa (1879–1880) and state jellyfish (1869, 1888). This work ultimately earned him the appointment of professor and later the first full professor of zoology in Jena. When describing the radiolarians collected by the British Challenger expedition , Haeckel named over 3500 new species. His part of the Challenger Report comprises three volumes with 2750 printed pages and 140 detailed plates.

Haeckel was not only an outstanding researcher, but also a gifted draftsman, as all of the illustrations and panels from his hand impressively prove even today with their naturalness and plasticity. Due to their abundance of material, these still have scientific value today.

General morphology (1866)

After 1859 Haeckel took up the idea of ​​Darwin's origin of species . Haeckel's General Morphology (1866) was epoch-making, the beginning of numerous subsequent syntheses of various sub-areas of biology within the framework of evolutionary theory . Haeckel combines biological and ideological aspects. He introduced each chapter with a quote from Goethe, the final chapter, under the title God in Nature ( amphitheism and monotheism ) , already introduced monism as the purest monotheism .

After the general morphology , Haeckel began to publish increasingly common understandable books, i.e. books aimed at laypeople - often written lecture series. These were based on the idea of ​​the theory of descent and thematized both scientific and philosophical and theological aspects, which Haeckel earned, among other things, violent attacks from Emil Heinrich Du Bois-Reymond among others .

Natural history of creation (1868)

First printing

With the Natural History of Creation (1868), Haeckel made the first attempt to summarize his thoughts developed in General Morphology in a way that laymen could understand. Despite the major shortcomings that Haeckel later noticed, the natural history of creation had nine editions before the publication of the World Puzzle (1899) and was translated into twelve languages. The World Riddle and the Wonders of Life (1904) continued this line, but increasingly exceeded the framework of the interpretation of biological facts in the context of the theory of evolution.

Among other things, he speculated in this work about the continent in which man had developed. Haeckel assumed that “most of the signs pointed to southern Asia”, but at the same time admitted: “Perhaps, however, eastern Africa was also the place where primitive man first emerged from human-like apes; perhaps also a continent now sunk under the mirror of the Indian Ocean [→ " Lemuria "], which stretched in the south of what is now Asia on the one hand east to the Sunda Islands, on the other hand west to Madagascar and Africa. "Haeckel called the hypothetical prehistoric man " Homo primigenius or Pithecanthropus primigenius ".

Anthropogeny (1874)

Human family tree according to Haeckel (1874)

In his book Anthropogenie (1874, around 730 pages), Haeckel applies the methods developed in general morphology to humans . After a historical introduction to the history of evolutionary theories, he examines the ontogeny of humans and explains its formation from the egg cell , fertilization , the structure of the cotyledons and the blood circulation . The third section covers tribal history or phylogeny . Here Haeckel first introduces simple vertebrates, then different levels of human ancestry:

I. from Moner to Gastraea,
II. From the primordial worm to the skull animal,
III. from primeval fish to amniotic animals (group of reptiles, birds and mammals) and
IV. From the mammal to the monkey .

The fourth section deals with the development history of individual organ systems: the skin and nervous system , sensory organs , locomotor organs , intestinal system, vascular system and urogenital system . A summarizing chapter follows, in which Haeckel declares the dualistic conception, especially the belief in creation and the conception of a soul independent of the brain functions , refuted and outlines his monism in brief outlines. (Darwin's book The Descent of Man and Sexual Selection was published almost at the same time as Haeckel's book, although its methodology was completely different.)

The World Riddles (1899)

Title page of the first edition

Haeckel's scientific work ended around 1900; after that he basically just popularized his own thoughts. Travel reports and a volume with watercolors appeared. The most important overview of Haeckel's popular writings is provided by a posthumously published six-volume edition of the Common Understandable Works . The book with the highest circulation was the world bestseller Die Weltträthsel from 1899.

With these “Commonly Understandable Studies on Monistic Philosophy” (subtitle) Haeckel presents the current state of research in many individual sciences and at the same time offers a philosophical and ideological interpretation. In 20 chapters it deals comprehensively with the subjects man, soul, world and God. He looks at the “germ history” of the soul as well as its immortal being, looks at the “development history of the world”, deals with the relationship between science and Christianity and recommends a “monistic moral theory”. The last chapter of this overview even promises the "solution to the world riddle". In various appendices, Haeckel comments on Immanuel Kant and epistemology, among other things .

Sea anemones : panel no.49 from Art Forms of Nature , 1899
Radiolarians ( radiolucent animals ): panel no.71 from Kunstformen der Natur , 1899
Ascidiacea : panel no.85 from Art Forms of Nature , 1904

Art forms of nature (1899–1904)

Haeckel saw biology to be related to art in many ways . His artistic talent was strongly influenced by symmetries in nature, including that of single-cell organisms such as radiolarians . Haeckel had already depicted the biological world in impressive beauty in his scientific monographs. His popular art forms of nature , which he published in several issues from 1899 to 1904, belonged - like Brehm's Tierleben - in the household of every educated citizen. His illustrations of plankton organisms and jellyfish are particularly famous .

Haeckel's representations influenced the art of the early 20th century. The glass chandeliers in the Monaco Oceanic Museum by Constant Roux are based on Haeckel's models, as is the monumental gate by French architect René Binet at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 . Binet inspired by Haeckel Tafelwerk Esquisses décoratives was added to a foundation of the type nouveau ( Nouveau ).

Haeckel's house (Villa Medusa, now the Ernst Haeckel Museum) and the Phyletic Museum building he donated , both in Jena, bring together art and science. B. Ornaments of the facade and interior decoration cite panels on the Medusa .

Scientific and ideological positions


Haeckel postulated the common origin of all organisms for the first time, although he considered the origin from the area of ​​three groups to be probable. Inspired by the linguist August Schleicher , with whom he was close friends in Jena, he introduced family trees to illustrate the historical course of evolution in biology. This idea is now considered obsolete; instead, current classifications use cladograms and phylograms .

Haeckel's observations of the parallels between individual development ( ontogenesis ) and tribe development ( phylogenesis ) formed the basis for postulating a causal relationship. Haeckel's basic biogenetic rule can be summed up in the sentence: “Ontogenesis recapitulates phylogenesis.” Baer's observation that early ontogenesis stages of closely related organisms are more similar than the later adult forms is still valid. Haeckel's conclusion of a causal relationship, however, has long been controversial and is now largely rejected by biologists. The common basic characteristics of phylogenetically related organisms can be understood within the framework of evolutionary theory, since new characteristics are usually based on existing characteristics.

Haeckel's advocacy of evolution as a teaching topic led to several controversies, some of which were politically fought, in the 1870s and 1880s. In contrast to Emil Heinrich Du Bois-Reymond and Rudolf Virchow, Haeckel spoke out in favor of inclusion in the school plans, which was emphasized by the SPD, including August Bebel in the Reichstag in 1878, with reference to the systematic alliance between social democracy and Darwinism - Virchow considered this politically questionable for just as much reasons.


From a philosophical point of view, Haeckel advocated a monistic natural philosophy by which he understood a “unity of matter and spirit”. So he wrote in The World Riddles :

“The amalgamation of the apparent opposites, and with it the progress towards the solution of the fundamental world riddle, is brought closer to us every year by the steadily increasing growth of the knowledge of nature. So we can indulge ourselves in the joyful hope that the dawning twentieth century will more and more balance out these contradictions and, through the development of pure monism, will spread the longed-for unity of worldview in wide circles. "

Haeckel was not a strict atheist . Although he strictly rejected every act of creation (hence the sharpness of his confrontation with the creationists , for example with Arnold Braß and the Keplerbund ), he came from a Christian family and saw nature - including inorganic crystals - as animated. His monism was that of one through spiritual matter; he saw God as identical with the general law of nature and represented a pantheism inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Spinoza . In this context he spoke of a “cell memory” ( mnemes ) and “crystal souls ”.

In Die Weltträtsel Ernst Haeckel quotes his (now much less well-known) colleague Johann Gustav Vogt several times , especially with regard to his ideas about electromagnetism and a universal ether . According to Haeckel and Vogt, mass and ether have both sensation and will , they “feel pleasure when there is compression , discomfort when there is tension ; they strive for the former and fight against the latter ”. Because of this worldview , the two are also referred to as hylozoistic natural philosophers.

Haeckel took part in the International Freethinker Congress in Rome in September 1904, which was attended by 2,000 people. There he was solemnly proclaimed " antipope " at a joint breakfast . During a subsequent demonstration by the participants on the Campo de 'Fiori in front of the Giordano Brunos monument , Haeckel attached a laurel wreath to the monument. Haeckel gladly accepted these honors: "Never before have I received so many personal honors as at this international congress." This provocation at the Pope's seat triggered a massive campaign and hostility from the church. In particular, his scientific integrity has been questioned and he has been portrayed as a forger, a fraud, and as a "monkey professor" ridiculed. However, 46 well-known professors made a declaration of honor for Haeckel.

On January 11, 1906, on Haeckel's initiative, the German Monist Union was founded in Jena, which Ernst Haeckel had proposed in Rome in September 1904. With the Monistenbund, the very heterogeneous monistic endeavors that had already existed for a short time found an overarching organizational framework that was decidedly on a scientific basis in the sense of Haeckel, but into which not all representatives of monism were integrated. Haeckel became honorary president of the German Monist Association.

Ernst Haeckel was one of the leading free thinkers and advocates of a scientifically oriented idea of ​​progress, which made his ideas attractive not only to right-wing and nationally minded, but also to bourgeois-liberal and left-wing circles. The monists around Haeckel had many followers at that time; for example Ferdinand Tönnies , Henry van de Velde , Alfred Hermann Fried , Otto Lehmann-Rußbüldt , Helene Stöcker , Magnus Hirschfeld and Carl von Ossietzky were among them. Parts of his ideas were adopted by the National Socialists, who rejected monism, but were able to use Haeckel's social Darwinist aspects well for their ideology.

In the foreword to the Wanderbildern published in 1905 (40 watercolors he painted , a selection of his over a thousand paintings made on his travels, primarily landscapes), Haeckel also complained about the increasing destruction of nature through mass summer trips (railroad, steamboats or inns), which he considered modern "Migration of Nations".

Pacifism and Peace Movement

Ernst Haeckel represented pacifist ideas. He supported Bertha von Suttner's peace movement (who read the works of Haeckel and Darwin and represented the theory of evolution) with congratulatory addresses and letters. In 1913, together with the French orientalist and translator Henriette Meyer (1876-1946), Haeckel founded the international peace association L'Institut Franco-Allemand de la Réconciliation and the magazine La Réconciliation , which should advocate a lasting peace between Germany and France. In an editorial "Reason and War" in La Réconciliation , he identified the arms race as a problem that could inexorably lead to war and condemned the national chauvinism that had gripped Germany, France and Great Britain.

Haeckel was the first to use the term First World War in September 1914 . The Indianapolis Star newspaper quoted Haeckel's statement on September 20, 1914. At the beginning of the First World War, Haeckel defended German participation in the war and expressed himself increasingly nationalist . In Haeckel's perspective, England was primarily responsible for the outbreak of the war, which Haeckel called a “terrible world war” with “terrible losses” in a letter to his nephew Konrad Huschke in 1916 . On October 2, 1914, Haeckel signed the war-affirming appeal “ To the world of culture! “, Which was signed by a further 92 intellectuals, including the physicist Max Planck and the writer Gerhart Hauptmann .

Ethics and future

As Iring Fetscher notes, the monistic ethics described in the world riddles remains stuck in the context of everyday bourgeois virtues that can be fulfilled, despite all revolutionary claims . Haeckel, however, derives a utopia from this ethic that would also like to use the advances in science and technology socially. Haeckel writes:

“The higher culture, which we are only now beginning to approach, will probably always have to keep an eye on the task of making everyone as happy as possible, ie. H. to create a satisfied existence. The perfected morality, free of all religious dogma and based on the clear knowledge of the laws of nature, teaches us the old wisdom of the golden rule ( Die Weltträthsel , chap. 19), in the words of the Gospel: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Reason leads us to the insight that a state that is as perfect as possible must at the same time create the greatest possible amount of happiness for every individual being that belongs to it. The reasonable balance between self-love and neighborly love, between egoism and altruism , becomes the goal of our monistic ethics. Many barbaric customs and old habits that are still considered to be indispensable: war, duel, compulsory church etc. will disappear. Arbitral tribunals will suffice to bring about a settlement in all legal disputes between peoples and people. The main interest of the state will not lie, as it is now, in the formation of the strongest possible military power, but in the most perfect possible education for young people on the basis of the most extensive cultivation of art and science. The perfection of technology, on the basis of the inventions in physics and chemistry, will generally satisfy the needs of life; the artificial synthesis of protein will provide rich nourishment for all. A sensible reform of marital relationships will make family life happy. "( Die Lebenswunder , 1904, chap. 17, section IV c, complete)

Haeckel counts compassion and sympathy among the noblest brain functions, which are among the most important conditions for social coexistence both in humans and in higher animals ( Die Lebenswunder , 1904, p. 131). He sees the commandment to love one's neighbor , if not first discovered by Christ , then rightly placed in the foreground by Christianity. According to him, this is the high ethical value of Christianity, which will continue even after its remaining “rotten dogmas” have long since crumbled into ruins. In particular, he opposes pure egoism :

“Therefore the prophets of pure egoism,  Friedrich NietzscheM ax S tirner, etc. [emphasis in the original] are in biological error if they want to put their 'master morality' in place of general human love and if they want pity as one Weakness of character or ridiculed as a moral error of Christianity. "

Eugenics and Social Darwinism

Because Ernst Haeckel was very specific about eugenic issues and addressed selection mechanisms and breeding ideas, various historians consider him to be one of the most important pioneers of racial hygiene and eugenics in Germany.

Even Wilhelm Schallmayer , a student of Haeckel, certified his former teacher, essential principles of eugenics to have uttered.

In Haeckel's book Die Lebenswunder (1904) it says for example:

“It can therefore also include the killing of newborn crippled children, such as those found in For example, the Spartans practiced for the purpose of selecting the most capable, do not reasonably fall under the concept of ' murder ', as it still happens in our modern codes of law. Rather, we must approve of it as an expedient measure that is useful both for those involved and for society. "( Die Lebenswunder , 1904, p. 23)


"Hundreds of thousands of incurable sick people, namely the mentally ill, lepers, cancer patients, etc., are artificially kept alive in our modern civilized states and their constant torments carefully prolonged, without any benefit to themselves or to the community." ( Die Lebenswunder , 1904, p. 134)

Haeckel took up the idea that the elimination of selection through medicine would lead to degenerative phenomena, and popularized it in Germany. He did not develop these considerations in a systematic way like Francis Galton. Above all, he did not, like his student Wilhelm Schallmayer and his friend Alfred Ploetz, make the "decisive turn from the mere diagnosis of degenerative tendencies to a therapeutic program". Haeckel stuck to the deductive determination of alleged degenerative tendencies in civilized societies on the basis of Darwin's theory and did not yet consider a counter-strategy. Haeckel's belief in the natural regulatory mechanisms in the evolutionary process was too strong. The fear of long-term “degeneration” was much more prevalent as the main motive among later eugenicists, especially in the Third Reich. The historians Peter Weingart, Jürgen Kroll and Kurt Bayertz classify the example of Sparta much-cited by Haeckel and the Spartan practice of "eliminating abnormally born infants" which he admires as follows:

“Haeckel's interest, for example, was purely theoretical. He cited Spartan human breeding as an example of the effectiveness of the selection principle in human society. He did not take the obvious step from theory to practice; Although he referred to the counter-selective effects of civilization, it did not occur to him to take Spartan human breeding as a model worth imitating, which should be emulated on the basis and with the means of modern selection theory. "

The historian RJ Richards also attests to Haeckel's position that the theory of evolution has no practical political implications. This is how Haeckel's answer to an attack by Rudolf Virchow, who accuses the theory of descent of socialist tendencies:

“By the way, we would like to take this opportunity to point out how dangerous such a direct transfer of scientific theories to the field of practical politics is. The highly complex conditions of our present-day cultural life require practical politicians to take such careful and impartial consideration, such thorough historical training and critical comparison, that they only dare to use a 'law of nature' in this way in the practice of cultural life with the greatest caution and restraint becomes. "( Free science and free teaching , 2nd edition. 1908, p. 69, emphasis in the original)

Otto Speck , on the other hand, takes the view that Ernst Haeckel opened a eugenics advice center in Dresden in 1911 and did indeed endeavor to implement racial hygiene and eugenics in politics. He writes: "Concrete goals were racial hygiene marriage counseling and, from a political point of view, the implementation of legal regulations for the sterilization of persons from the lower social classes who are unfit for reproduction."

By transferring the Darwinian principle of evolution and selection to human societies, Ernst Haeckel prepared the ground for social Darwinism in Germany, according to various scholars . The sociologist Fritz Corner described him in 1975 as the father of German social Darwinism.

In 1900 Haeckel acted as chairman of a committee in a competition funded by the Krupp family . There, essays were evaluated in which the topic of "racial hygiene" was dealt with with regard to domestic political and legislative consequences. The panel claimed that the idea of ​​the equality of all human beings entailed "degeneracy" and degeneration of " civilization ". The competition was won by Wilhelm Schallmayer with his work What do we learn from the principles of the theory of descent in relation to the domestic political development and legislation of states? . This work played a special role in the dissemination of social Darwinist ideas in Germany because it contributed to a large extent to the politicization of anthropological issues.

In 1905 Haeckel became a member of the Society for Racial Hygiene founded by Alfred Ploetz . The statutes and aims of the society provided for the promotion of the "theory and practice of racial hygiene among the white peoples". In Germany, society contributed significantly to the institutionalization of racial hygiene as a scientific subject.

Social Darwinist reasons may also have allowed him to justify the death penalty .


As one of the first German-speaking authors to call for the killing of the seriously ill - at their request - and the severely disabled - without their consent, Haeckel also became a pioneer and pioneer of voluntary and involuntary " euthanasia " in Germany. Five years ago the manifesto Release of the Destruction of Life life of Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding he (1920) had in ages about "the incurable mental illness, cancer or leprosy sufferers who want their own salvation", "newborn (1915) Children with Defects ”and“ Abnormalities ”clearly written:“ A small dose of morphine or cyanide would free not only these unfortunate creatures themselves, but also their relatives from the burden of a long, worthless and painful existence ”(p. 35). In this, Hoche's concept of “ ballast existences ” is already mentioned, and with his remarks about the allegedly lower “life value ” of various groups of people ( Lebenswunder , 1904, pp. 291–315) Haeckel had already contributed significantly to the idea of ​​“life unworthy of life”.


Haeckel is accused of repeatedly abusing his authority as a scientist to legitimize his political ideas. However, Haeckel denied a political role: “I myself am nothing less than a politician. .. I will therefore neither play a role in the future, nor have I ever attempted to do so before. "( Free science and free teaching , 2nd edition. 1908, p. 69)

His basic biogenetic law of 1866 is considered refuted by modern biology in its conclusion. It is by no means a law of nature, as initially postulated by Baer and Haeckel. Nevertheless, the observation of an apparent recapitulation of the developmental stages of the organisms still has significance. It shows a relationship of the observed species and is, if not a law, at least a repeatable and verifiable morphological observation. The well-known textbook authors Rüdiger Wehner and Walter Gehring also write in their textbook zoology :

“Of course, the form that Haeckel (1834–1919) gave this fact in his 'biogenetic basic rule' (1866) concisely but grossly, namely that the ontogeny of an organism means the recapitulation of its phylogeny, describes the situation too one-sidedly. The embryonic development of every organism is rich in self-adaptations (caenogenesis), which - like the germinal envelope of the amniotes (Fig. 3.20) - take into account the specific conditions of the developing embryo. "

Haeckel's tendency to philosophically evaluate scientific knowledge is said to be partly responsible for the fact that some of his images of biological objects are deliberately falsified. In the embryo controversy , Wilhelm His, among others, accused him of deliberate scientific fraud. Other observers, on the other hand, suspect that the tendency towards interpretation of his embryological observations can be understood as overly schematization.

Haeckel also developed a polemical German national chauvinism in his old age during the First World War , which is particularly evident in his text Ewigkeit : “A single well-educated German warrior [...] has a higher intellectual and moral value than hundreds of the rough naturals, which England and France, Russia and Italy oppose them. ”In 1917 he was involved in the founding of the German Fatherland Party, which propagated a victory peace . In general morphology it also says: "The differences between the highest and the lowest human beings are greater than those between the lowest human beings and the highest animals." However, he did not deduce this expressly from genetics, but from social Darwinian theory .

History of impact: ideological significance and exploitation

In historiography there are two extreme positions on the political classification of Darwinism and social Darwinism. Hans-Günther Zmarzlik (1963) draws a line from social Darwinist drafts to right-wing radical ideologies. The American historian Daniel Gasman and, independently of him, Richard Weikart even see Haeckel as a pioneer of National Socialism. With regard to Darwinism, however, Gunter Mann (1973) comes to the conclusion that Darwinism is an integral part of the “Marxist-communist-materialist worldview” (Mann). These different attributions can also be found either in favor of or in favor of Haeckel's opponents and supporters.

Günter Altner (1981) proposes a step model of a not inevitable path from Darwinism to National Socialism, which is also suitable for determining Haeckel's contribution. According to scientific Darwinism, social Darwinism, racial hygiene and racial anthropology then form the decisive and chronologically and logically successive steps. Haeckel makes relevant contributions to the first three stages in this model: In the context of scientific Darwinism, he determines the position of humans within the primates; At the level of social Darwinism, he transfers biological ideas to social conditions, whereby his anti-clerical or anti-Catholic attitude is often decisive. Haeckel remained caught up in racial hygiene in the 19th century. Above all, he promotes the work of other authors. In the competition “What do we learn from the principles of descent theory?” (1900), for example, he promoted the doctor Wilhelm Schallmayer , who radicalized Haeckel's own theses and whose writings became a cornerstone of applied racial hygiene during the Nazi era.

The concept of “race” has become unusable in political and social discourse in the German-speaking area since this term was discredited, especially by the Holocaust, during the National Socialist era . In the United States, however, the term “ race ” is officially used by the United States Census Bureau and the Federal Government's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in census surveys . As a rule, it is no longer perceived as a biological concept here, but the underlying cultural construction has always been included in scientific discourse since the 1960s.

The socialist reception until 1933

Haeckel was read and discussed by various social democrats, socialists and anarchists such as Alfred Hermann Fried , Friedrich Albert Lange , August Bebel , Lenin , Otto Lehmann-Rußbüldt , Julius Schaxel , Helene Stöcker , Ferdinand Tönnies and Henry van de Velde . Karl Kautsky worked programmatically on race issues, referring to Haeckel.

The political left was by no means in agreement on Haeckel's assessment. In the first year of the popular science and socialist magazine Urania (1925), for example, three different positions can be found with three references to Haeckel. Robert Niemann praises Haeckel as a post-bourgeois, developmentally oriented free spirit, for Karl August Wittfogel Haeckel is an ancestor of the destruction of the old ideology "which forms the spiritual bulwark of capitalist property relations". K. Schäfer criticizes social Darwinism in reducing ethics to natural science. Nothing else than “genuine capitalist ethics” could come out of it, and he substantiates this with a quote from Haeckel. "Darwinism is anything but socialist" (p. 258). However, this quote by Haeckel comes from Haeckel's defense against the violent attacks of Rudolf Virchow. Virchow, contrary to Haeckel's efforts, opposed the introduction of Darwinian content in curricula for higher schools and universities and tried to discredit Darwinism by associating it with socialism and communism, one in which under the influence of chaotic events during the Paris Commune standing at this time serious accusation.

Haeckel did not play a major role for Lenin, he is only mentioned in detail in his work Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908), in relation to Haeckel's book World Mysteries . Lenin agrees with Franz Mehring's criticism , according to which Haeckel's inadequacy consists in the fact that "he has no idea of ​​historical materialism and thus rises to a series of hair-raising absurdities about politics as well as a monistic religion, etc. etc." . The book serves as proof of the inability of "scientific materialism to have a say in social issues". The “strong point” of the book is the portrayal that Haeckel “gives of the triumphant advance of scientific materialism”.

Magnus Hirschfeld won Haeckel after a visit as the author of his journal for sexology on the subject of human hermaphrodites .

Also significant are the contributions that Haeckel's estate administrator Heinrich Schmidt wrote for the book series of the Marxist Urania Verlag on the subject of ape descent of humans, the struggle for existence or reproduction.

The National Socialist Reception

Haeckel's private secretary Heinrich Schmidt became in 1920, one year after Haeckel's death, his estate administrator and director of the Ernst Haeckel House , which was affiliated to the Carl Zeiss Foundation until 1945 , as well as the editor of the “Monist Monthly Issues”. After this magazine was banned by the National Socialists in 1933, Schmidt founded the magazine “Natur und Geist, monthly magazines for science, worldview and shaping the world”. Schmidt developed increasingly radical nationalist. In this context, he resorted to racist and nationalist arguments, which in their radicalism far exceeded the opinions of his colleagues Ludwig Plate or Hans FK Günther . His attempt to redesign or reinterpret the Ernst Haeckel House and the person of Haeckel in the National Socialist sense ultimately failed. Via the detour of the journal Natur und Geist , ideological arguments found their way into the standard work on human heredity and racial hygiene by Erwin Baur , Eugen Fischer and Fritz Lenz .

Other scientists who tried to exploit Haeckel's work and its popularity after 1933 in the National Socialist sense were, for example, Karl Astel , Lothar Stengel von Rutkowski , Heinz Brücher , Victor Julius Franz , the director of the "Ernst Haeckel House", or the one after Third Reich important evolutionary biologist Gerhard Heberer . They collected and published nationalist texts and books or used anti-socialist, racial or eugenic passages from Haeckel's complete works. In a conversation between Haeckel and Hermann Bahr , Brücher, who attested to Haeckel that “narrow-minded hatred of Jews is alien to him”, found the anti-Semitism central to the Nazi ideology . Haeckel had turned against the immigration of Russian Jews who were "incompatible with our morality". Haeckel, on the other hand, generally advocated a “racial mixture of Jews and Aryans ” and considered the German Jews to be an important element of German culture, which had always valiantly stood for enlightenment and freedom and against reactionary and occult forces.

For Brücher Haeckel's late work “Die Kristallseelen” is a prime example of Germanic holistic research, which is why Haeckel is not materialistic . He also presented an extensive genealogical research, in which he also examined Haeckel racially. Haeckel is Nordic in nature. However, he sees problems with the “hereditary health” of his family (Haeckel was the father of a disabled daughter).

The Nazi functionary Günther Hecht , representative of the Racial Politics Office of the NSDAP, was completely different . This explains the materialistic monism of Haeckel as incompatible refuted with Nazism and the nationalist-biological point of view of National Socialism also similar Kurt Hildebrandt , one of the Nazi ideology of related theorists of eugenics , the one "aesthetic fundamentalism" in stretto of ideas of George circle represented and wanted to zoom breed a "German culture as the fulfillment of the Aryan nature", to manage any "western" mechanism. Hildebrandt called it an “illusion” by Haeckel that he believed in the “mechanistic solution” of the world riddle through Darwin's theory of descent. Heberer's ideological articles, for example in “Volk und Rasse” or the “National Socialist Monthly Issues” attempt to ward off this accusation and are primarily reminiscent of Haeckel's anti-clerical position in order to use it in the National Socialist church struggle. Ultimately, under National Socialism there was no uniform assessment of Haeckel's work as determined by the NSDAP.

The National Socialists repeatedly referred to supposedly scientific foundations, whereby Haeckel's “social Darwinism” was also appropriated. Haeckel equated cultural history with natural history, since in his opinion both obeyed the same natural laws. This idea is said to have made a big impression on Hitler - at least that's the thesis of Daniel Gasman, The Scientific Origins of National Socialism, 1971:

"Hitler's views on [...] nature, eugenics [...] and evolution [...] coincide for the most part with those of Haeckel and are more than occasionally expressed in very much the same language."

D. Gasman's theses have come under heavy criticism in recent years, for example by the science historian R. J. Richards. Richards refers, among other things, to a guideline for libraries and libraries of the Saxon government in 1935, in which writings which defend the "superficial scientific enlightenment of a primitive Darwinism and monism", "like those of Ernst Haeckel", condemned and as unfit for them National Socialist Education in the Third Reich.

Haeckel in the GDR

Model of the Ernst Haeckel ship in the Stralsund Marine Museum
Haeckel statue in the Chemnitz Botanical Garden

In the GDR , Haeckel, an outspoken opponent of egalitarian socialism , admirer of Otto von Bismarck , advocate of aggressive German imperialism and avowed anti-Semite , who was venerated as a pioneer of racial hygiene during the time of National Socialism , was taken over by the management of the Ernst Haeckel House stylized as a progressive source of inspiration for real socialism . In 1950, director Georg Schneider interpreted a drawing from 1850 with the title “National Assembly of Birds” by 16-year-old Haeckel as his participation in the internal political revolutionary development in Germany. In 1987 Erika Krauße established a connection between Haeckel's school teachers and the revolution of 1848 . During this time only a few authors were allowed to publish on Haeckel. The descriptions of the time portray the scientist exclusively as a thoroughly progressive materialist thinker whose philosophical speculations show similarities with Karl Marx 's Dialectical Materialism .

A small memorial was set up in Haeckel's birthplace in Potsdam. In 1981 Urania donated the Ernst Haeckel Medal to the GDR .


The Royal Society awarded him the Darwin Medal in 1900 "for his long-lasting and highly significant work in zoology, which was always inspired by the spirit of Darwinism" (Original: For his long-continued and and highly important work in zoology all of which has been inspired by the spirit of Darwinism ).

In 1863 Haeckel was elected a member of the Leopoldina . In 1864 he received the Cothenius Medal of the Leopoldina. In 1870 he was elected a corresponding member and in 1891 a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . In 1885 he was accepted into the American Philosophical Society and in 1888 as an honorary member ( Honorary Fellow ) in the Royal Society of Edinburgh . In 1894 he was made an honorary member of the Nassau Association for Natural History . The Accademia dei Lincei has had him as an external member since 1899.


On October 31, 1920, the Ernst Haeckel Memorial Museum was opened in its former home in Jena. On May 17, 1963, the GDR put the Ernst Haeckel fishing research vessel into service.


  • Scomberesoces over the eggs. In: J. Müller's archive for anatomy and physiology. 1855, pp. 23–32 Plate IV, V.
  • From the pathological-anatomical course of Prof (essor) Virchow in Würzburg. On the relation of typhoid to tuberculosis (part 1/2). In:  Wiener Medical Wochenschrift , year 1856, (VI. Year), January 5, 1856, No. 1/1856, pp. 1 / 2–5 / 6 (online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / wmw,
  • From the pathological-anatomical course of Prof (essor) Virchow in Würzburg. Fibroid of the uterus. In:  Wiener Medical Wochenschrift , year 1856, (VI. Year), February 16, 1856, No. 7/1856, pp. 97 / 98-101 / 102. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / wmw.
  • De telis quibusdam Astaci fluviatilis. Dissertio inauguralis histologica, the VII M. Martini A. Berolini, 1857. online
  • About the tissues of the crayfish. In: Müller's archive for anatomy and physiology. 1857, pp. 469-568 Plate XVIII, XIX.
  • Contributions to the normal and pathological anatomy of the chlorioides plexus. In: Vierchow's archive for pathological anatomy. Vol. XVI, 1858, pp. 253-289, Plate VIII.
  • About the eyes and nerves of the star animals. In: Journal of Scientific Zoology. Volume 1859, 1859, pp. 183-190 panel XI.
  • Travel kids from Sicily. In: Journal of General Geography. Vol. VIII, 1860, pp. 433-486.
  • About new living radiolarians from the Mediterranean. In: Monthly report of the Royal Academy of Sciences Berlin. December 13, 1860, pp. 794-817.
  • Imaging and diagnosing new genera and species of living Mediterranean radiolarians. In: Monthly report of the Royal Academy of Sciences Berlin. December 20, 1860, pp. 835-845.
  • De Rizopodum finibus et ordinibus. Dissertio pro venia legendi impetranda in litterarum universitate Jenensi. The IV. M. Martini 1861, Berlin 1861.
  • The radiolarians (Rhizopoda radiata). A monograph. Vol. 1 (text), online and Vol. 2 (Atlas), Berlin 1862, online .
  • About Darwin's theory of evolution. Public lecture at the General Assembly of German Naturalists and Doctors in Stettin, on September 19, 1862 (Official report on the 37th Assembly, p. 17), 1863.
  • Contributions to the knowledge of the Corycaeids (copepods). In: Jena magazine for medicine and science. Volume 1, 1864, pp. 61-112, panels I-III.
  • Description of new craspedot medusas from the Gulf of Nice. Jena journal for medicine and science. Volume 1, 1864, pp. 325-342.
  • The family of the long-nose jellyfish (Medusae Geryonidae). In: Jena magazine for medicine and science. Volume 1. 1864, pp. 435-469 panel XI, XII.
  • About a new form of generation change in Medusa and about the relationship between the Geryoinids and Aginids. In: Monthly report of the Berlin Academy. 1865, pp. 85-94.
  • About the sarcode body of the rhizopods. In: Journal of Scientific Zoology. Volume XV. 1865, pp. 342-370.
  • About fossil medusas. In: Journal of Scientific Zoology. Volume XV. 1865, pp. 504-514.
  • The family of the long-nose jellyfish (Medusae Geryonidae). In: Jena magazine for medicine and science. Volume 2. 1865, pp. 93–322 (continuation and conclusion).
  • Contributions to the natural history of the hydromeduses. Book I. The family of the trunk jellyfish (Medusae Geryonidae). A monograph. Leipzig 1865. online
  • General morphology of the organisms. 2 volumes. Berlin 1866 (digital copies: Vol. 1 , Vol. 2 ).
  • Natural story of creation. Berlin: G. Reimer 1868 ( digitized version ).
  • Anthropogeny or human evolutionary history. Leipzig: W. Engelmann 1874.
  • Arab corals. a trip to the coral banks of the Red Sea and a look into the life of the coral animals. Berlin 1876, doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.10156 .
  • The perigenesis of the plastidule or the generation of waves by the particles of life. Berlin 1876 ( digitized version and full text in the German text archive ).
  • Indian travel letters. Berlin, Paetel, 1883. Digitized
  • Systematic phylogeny. 3 volumes. Berlin 1894–1896 (digital copies: Vol. 1 , Vol. 2 , Vol. 3 ).
  • The world riddle . Common Studies on Monistic Philosophy. Bonn 1899 ( digitized version and full text in the German text archive ).
  • Art forms of nature. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1899–1904; 2nd, shortened edition 1924 ( digitized version of the University and State Library Düsseldorf ).
  • From insulin. Malay travel letters. Bonn, Strauss, 1901. Digitized
  • Development story of a youth. KJ Köhler, Leipzig 1901. Digitized
  • The miracle of life. Common Studies on Biological Philosophy. Supplementary volume to the book about world riddles. Alfred Kröner Verlag, Stuttgart 1904. Digitized
  • The struggle for the development thought. Three lectures, held on April 14, 16 and 19, 1905 in the hall of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin. Reimer, Berlin 1905.
  • Hiking pictures. After own watercolors and oil paintings. First, second and third series. The natural wonders of the tropical world. Ceylon and Insulinde. Gera-Untermhaus, W. Koehler'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung (1905).
  • Crystal Souls: Studies of Inorganic Life. Alfred Kröner Verlag, Leipzig 1917. Digitized
  • Art forms of nature. Marix, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-937715-17-7 (based on the original edition from 1904, newly set, revised and introduced).
  • Sandalion. An open answer to the Jesuits ' forgery charges , 1910. Digitized
  • “My exit from the church” magazine “Das Freie Wort”, Volume X, Issue No. 18 from December 1910.
  • "God Nature" (Theophysis) - Studies on Monistic Religion, 1914
  • "Fifty Years of Tribal History", 1916
  • Ernst Haeckel: Selected correspondence . Volume 1. Family Correspondence February 1839-July 1854 , ed. and edit by Roman Göbel, Gerhard Müller and Claudia Taszus with the assistance of Thomas Bach, Jens Pahnke and Kathrin Polenz. Steiner, Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-515-11290-1 .


  • Rolf Füllmann: Nature didactics in Goethe's name: Ernst Haeckel and the lyrically condensed monism. In: Sieglinde Grimm, Roman Bartosch (ed.): The matter of the mind. The 'material turn' in the context of educational and literary history around 1800. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter 2018, pp. 135–159.
  • Rainer Willmann, Julia Voss: Art and Science Ernst Haeckels. (With 400 plates) Taschen-Verlag, Cologne 2017, ISBN 978-3-8365-2646-3 .
  • Andrea Wulf : Alexander von Humboldt and the invention of nature . Chapter 22: Art, Ecology and Nature. Ernst Haeckel and Humboldt . Translated from the English by Hainer Kober . Bertelsmann, Munich 2016. ISBN 978-3-570-10206-0 . (On the influence of Alexander von Humboldt on Haeckel's understanding of nature)
  • Winfried Krakau: Ernst Haeckel. The scientific monist and philosopher, evolutionary humanist and church critic in a "conversation" with Winfried Krakau on questions of our time. Karin Fischer Verlag, Aachen 2011, ISBN 978-3-8422-3916-6 .
  • Birk Engmann: Ernst Haeckel on the ninetieth anniversary of his death. His reflections on Theophysis, the crystal soul and consciousness and their significance today. In: Ärzteblatt Thuringia. 11/2009, ISSN  0863-5412 , pp. 681-684. (online) (PDF; 988 kB)
  • Robert J. Richards: The Tragic Sense of Life, Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago / London 2008, ISBN 978-0-226-71214-7 .
  • Uwe Hoßfeld : From Christian to Atheist: Ernst Haeckel's exit from the church in 1910 . In: Ulrich Kutschera (Ed.): Creationism in Germany. Facts and analysis . LIT, Berlin / Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-9684-3 , p. 45 ff . ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  • Volker Mueller, Arnher E. Lenz: Darwin, Haeckel and the consequences. Past and present monism. Angelika Lenz Verlag, Neustadt am Rübenberge 2006, ISBN 3-933037-56-5 .
  • Bernhard Kleeberg: Theophysis. Ernst Haeckel's philosophy of the whole of nature. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-412-17304-5 .
  • Mario DiGregorio: From Here to Eternity. Ernst Haeckel and Scientific Faith. Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-535-56972-9 .
  • Daniel E. Gasman: Haeckel's Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology . Peter Lang, New York 1998, ISBN 0-8204-4108-2 .
  • Andreas W. Daum : Science popularization in the 19th century. Civil culture, scientific education and the German public, 1848–1914 . Oldenbourg, Munich, ISBN 978-3-486-56337-5 .
  • Rüdiger Wehner, Walter Gehring: Zoology. 23rd edition. Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-13-367423-4 , chap. 11.1.4, pp. 573-575.
  • Erika Krauße: Ernst Haeckel. ( Biographies of outstanding natural scientists, technicians and physicians ; Vol. 70) Teubner, Leipzig, 1984.
  • Georg Uschmann:  Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich Philipp August. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , pp. 423-425 ( digitized version ).
  • Ernst Haeckel. For his 80th birthday. In:  The wake-up call. Alpine folksy bi-monthly publication for intellectual and cultural progress, for politics, economics, art and literature , No. 2–3 / 1914 (fourth year), February 1, 1914, p. 1 ff. (Online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / dwr.
  • Manfred Wenzel: Haeckel, Ernst. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 521 f.
  • Johannes Hemleben: Rudolf Steiner and Ernst Haeckel , Journal for Politics, Economy, Culture, Vol. 44, Issue 12, 1965, pp. 1151–1160

Quotes about Ernst Haeckel

  • Charles Darwin : “If the natural story of creation had appeared before my work was written, I would probably never have completed it. Almost all the conclusions that I have come to, I find confirmed by this natural scientist, whose knowledge in many points is much more perfect than mine. ”(Introduction to The Descent of Man , 1870 edition)
  • Franz Mehring : "The book seems to us to be of very topical interest also for the social democratic party" (on Haeckel's book Die Weltträthsel , 1899/1900)
  • Thomas Alva Edison : “Haeckel is the greatest among the living people. I absolutely believe in his theory. "
  • Rudolf Steiner : “In ... a contradicting way, two beings live in Haeckel. A person with a mild, love-filled sense of nature, and behind that something like a shadowy being with incomplete, narrowly delimited ideas that breathed fanaticism ... A human riddle that one could only love if one saw it; which one could often get angry about when it was judged. "( Mein Lebensgang , 1925)

Web links

Commons : Ernst Haeckel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Ernst Haeckel  - Sources and full texts

From Ernst Haeckel:

About Ernst Haeckel:

Ernst Haeckel House and Museum in Jena:

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Andreas W. Daum: Science popularization in the 19th century. Bourgeois Culture, Scientific Education, and the German Public, 1848-1914 . Oldenbourg, Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-486-56337-5 , pp. 66-83, 300-308 .
  2. ^ Richard Langton Gregory: The Oxford companion to the mind , Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 385; Heinz Brücher, Karl Astel: Ernst Haeckel's blood and spiritual heritage: a cultural-biological monograph , JF Lehmann, 1936, p. 9.
  3. ^ Gunter Mann: Biologism - preliminary stages and elements of a medicine in the NS . In: J. Bleker et al .: (Ed.): Medicine in the “Third Reich” , Cologne 1993, p. 25 ff.
  4. for example: Natural history of creation , "Seventh lecture: The Zuchtungslehre der Selectionstheorie (Darwinism)", 7th edition, Berlin: Reimer, 1879, 153–155
  5. ^ RJ Richards: The tragic sense of life: Ernst Haeckel and the struggle over evolutionary thought. The University of Chicago Press (2008) p. 446.
  6. Biographical Notes , 3, Haeckel Papers, Haeckel-Haus, Jena
  7. Ernst Haeckel: Letters to the parents . KF Koehler, Leipzig 1921, p. 177 f.
  8. Manfred Wenzel: Haeckel, Ernst. 2005, p. 521.
  9. G. Uschmann, History of Zoology and the Zoological Institutions in Jena 1779–1919, Jena 1959
  10. ^ Ernst Haeckel: Italy trip: Letters to the bride, KF Koehler, Leipzig 1921, p. 8.
  11. Sebastian Kirschner, Sold out-About the creation of an epochal book, Story-Portrait Darwin, 2/2008, p. 46ff. in:
  12. Manfred Wenzel: Haeckel, Ernst. 2005, p. 521 f.
  13. Official report on the 38th meeting of German natural scientists and doctors in Stettin on September 19, 1863 and Ernst Haeckel's lecture "On Darwin's Development Theory" in: Ernst Haeckel, Werke Volume V., Berlin 1924
  14. Ernst Haeckel's circular to his friends of October 24, 1866 in: Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) Briefedition, Stuttgart 2017
  15. Charles Darwin: The Descent of Man and the Sexual Breeding Selection Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex . In German translation by Julius Viktor Carus (1823–1903), in two volumes, Stuttgart 1871
  16. Jürgen Neffe, Darwin, The Adventure of Life, Penguin Verlag, Munich 2017, p. 460 f
  17. Erika Krauße: Ernst Haeckel. ( Biographies of outstanding natural scientists, technicians and medical professionals ; Vol. 70) Teubner, Leipzig, 1984, p. 134.
  18. ^ Norbert Elsner: The unsolved world riddle. Volume I. Frida von Uslar-Gleichen and Ernst Haeckel. Letters and Diaries 1898-1900. Wallstein, Göttingen 2000, ISBN 978-3-89244-377-3 , chap. Commentary register of persons, pp. 1291–1295.
  19. CC-Blätter 1/2007, p. 23.
  20. ^ Roger Chickering: A Voice of Moderation in Imperial Germany: The "Association for International Understanding" 1911-1914. In: Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 8, No. 1 (1973), pp. 147-164.
  21. See also Federal Archives Koblenz. Estate of Hans Wehberg, “Call for the establishment of an association for international understanding”.
  22. In the magazine "Das Freie Wort" Volume X, Issue No. 18 from December 1910
  23. Ernst Haeckel: Natural history of creation. Commonly understood scientific lectures on the theory of evolution in general and that of Darwin, Goethe and Lamarck in particular, on the application of these to the origin of man and other related fundamental questions of natural science. Georg Reimer, Berlin 1868, chapter 19 ( full text ). See also Stefan Wogawa: Ernst Haeckel and the hypothetical continent Lemuria . Eobanus Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-9814241-7-1 .
  24. cf. Ernst Haeckel's Gasträa theory
  25. Culture as natural history: opposition or complementarity to political historiography 1850–1890? Christian MehrWalter de Gruyter, 2010, p. 131 ff.
  26. Goethe and no end: Emil Heinrich Du Bois-Reymond speech at the beginning of the rectorate of Koenigl. Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin on October 15, 1882
  27. Ernst Haeckel: : Die Welträtsel (1899) , Chapter 12: The substance law
  28. see
  29. Hans-Jörg Wilke: “The history of animal illustration in Germany 1850–1950.” Basilisken-Presse, Rangsdorf 2018, p. 281, 460
  30. ^ Brigitte Hamann: Berta von Suttner. A life for peace. 2nd Edition. Munich 1987, pp. 71, 140, 158, 165, ISBN 3-492-03037-8 .
  31. ^ Bibliothèque nationale de France : Henriette Meyer dataset
  32. Shapiro, Fred R; Epstein, Joseph (2006), The Yale Book of Quotations, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-10798-6 , p. 328.
  33. see for example Ernst Haeckel: Englands Blutschuld am Weltkriege in Victor Franz (ed.): Ernst Haeckel: His life, thinking and working. A series of writings for his numerous friends and followers
  34. ^ K. Huschke (Ed.): Ernst and Agnes Haeckel: a letter exchange , p. 215.
  35. ^ Rolf Groschopp, Dissidents , 1997, p. 393.
  36. Ernst Haeckel: The miracles of life. Common studies of biological philosophy. Alfred Kröner Verlag, 1904, p. 131 f. ( Digitized versionhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D )
  37. Helmut Zander, Biology of the Perfect Man - Science and Ethics in the Monistenbund around 1900 , in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, No. 167, July 21, 2001, p. 73.
  38. Rolf Winau, 100 Years of Social Hygiene, Social Medicine and Public Health in Germany , on CD-ROM Ed. Udo Schagen u. Sabine Schleiermacher, Berlin 2005
  39. ^ William H. Tucker, The Science and Politics of Racial Research , University of Illinois Press 1996, p. 111.
  40. Wilhelm Schallmayer: Ernst Haeckel and the eugenics , in: What we owe Ernst Haeckel: A book of admiration and gratitude. Edited by Heinrich Schmidt, Jena 1914, p. 368.
  41. ^ Peter Weingart, Jürgen Kroll, Kurt Bayertz: Race, Blood and Genes. History of eugenics and racial hygiene in Germany. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 1992, p. 77.
  42. Peter Weingart, Jürgen Kroll and Kurt Bayertz: Race, Blood and Genes. History of eugenics and racial hygiene in Germany. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 1992, p. 89 f.
  43. ^ RJ Richards: The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought. The University of Chicago Press (2008) p. 327.
  44. Otto Speck (former professor for special education at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): Should humans become biotechnologically feasible? Eugenics, disability and education. Reinhardt Verlag, Munich 2005, p. 22
  45. Manuela Lenzen, Theories of Evolution in the Natural and Social Sciences , Campus 2003, p. 138.
  46. ^ Andreas Frewer, Medicine and Morals in the Weimar Republic and National Socialism. Campus Verlag 2000, p. 30.
  47. ^ Paul Weindling, Health, Race and German Politics Between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945 , Cambridge University Press 1989, p. 41.
  48. Wolf Michael Iwand, Paradigma Political Culture , Leske and Budrich VS Verlag, 1997, p. 330.
  49. John Weiss, The Long Road to the Holocaust. The history of hostility towards Jews in Germany and Austria , Ullstein, Berlin 1998, pp. 185 f.
  50. Uwe Hoßfeld, Race Pictures in Thuringia 1863–1945. In: Blätter zur Landeskunde, No. 63, Thuringian State Center for Political Education, Erfurt 2006, p. 4.
  51. In his Natural History of Creation he says: “[...] On the other hand, it should be emphasized that other forms of artificial breeding also exert a very favorable influence on the cultural life of mankind. How much this is the case with many conditions in our advanced civilization, and especially with improved schooling and upbringing, is obvious. As an artificial selection process, the death penalty is also directly beneficial. It is true that many still praise the abolition of the death penalty as a “liberal measure” and assert a number of the most silly reasons for it in the name of a false “humanity”. In truth alone, the death penalty for the great multitude of incorrigible criminals and scapegoats is not only just retribution, but a great benefit for the better part of humanity; the same benefit which is the extermination of rampant weeds for the thriving of a well-cultivated garden. [...] “Ernst Haeckel, Natural Creation History: Commonly understandable scientific lectures on the theory of evolution , Berlin and Leipzig 1926 (people's edition based on the edition published by Heinrich Schmidt in 1919), p. 118. Further evidence under [1] , [2 ] , [3]
  52. Ernst Haeckel: Eternity. World war thoughts about life and death, religion and evolution. Berlin 1915, p. 36.
  53. ^ Zmarzlik, Hans-Günter (1963): Social Darwinism in Germany as a historical problem. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 11, 1963, pp. 246–273 to be found at:
  54. ^ Daniel Gasman: The Scientific Origins of National Socialism , 1971, expanded new edition 2004.
  55. Conrad-Martius, Hedwig: Utopien der Menschenzüchtung. Kösel-Verlag Munich, 1955, p. 74.
  56. ^ Norbert Finzsch: Scientific racism in the United States - 1850 to 1930. P. 84–85.
  57. Among other things, a selection of authors of the book What we owe Ernst Haeckel , published by Heinrich Schmidt, Jena 1914
  58. ^ Karl Kautsky, Race and Judaism (1914). See also the translation Are the Jews a Race? (1926) at , here Chapter 4 with reference to Haeckel
  59. ^ Ernst Haeckel: Free Science and Free Teaching, a reply to Rudolf Virchow's Munich speech on "The Freedom of Science in the Modern State" (1878)
  60. ^ Rudolf Virchow: The freedom of science in the modern state. 1877
  61. ^ RJ Richards: The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought. The University of Chicago Press, 2008, p. 318 ff.
  62. ^ WI Lenin, Werke, Vol. 14, pp. 351–361, Berlin 1987
  64. ^ Contribution in: What we owe Ernst Haeckel , Ed. Heinrich Schmidt, Jena 1914
  65. ^ Uwe Hoßfeld, Haeckel's "Eckermann": Heinrich Schmidt (1874–1935). In: Matthias Steinbach , Stefan Gerber (Eds.): Classical University and Academic Province: The University of Jena from the middle of the 19th to the 30s of the 20th century. Jena: Bussert & Stadeler, 2005, p. 282.
  66. a b Uwe Hoßfeld, Haeckel's "Eckermann": Heinrich Schmidt (1874–1935). In: Matthias Steinbach, Stefan Gerber (Eds.): Classical University and Academic Province: The University of Jena from the middle of the 19th to the 30s of the 20th century. Jena: Bussert & Stadeler, 2005, p. 284.
  67. Heiner Fangerau, The standard work on human heredity and racial hygiene by Erwin Baur, Eugen Fischer and Fritz Lenz in the mirror of contemporary review literature 1921–1941, dissertation, Ruhr University Bochum, Faculty of Medicine, 2000, p. 66.
  68. See also Paul Weindling : "Mustergau" Thuringia. Racial hygiene between ideology and power politics. In: Norbert Frei (Hrsg.): Medicine and health policy in the Nazi era. Munich 1991 (= writings of the quarterly books for contemporary history. Special issue). P. 81–97, here: P. 92 f.
  69. Brücher 1936, p. 117.
  70. Hermann Bahr: The anti-Semitism. An international interview. In: German newspaper. Vienna, 23, 1893, # 7664, 1–2. (April 30, 1893) Book edition: S. Fischer 1894, pp. 62–69. Frequent new editions, most recently 2010, ISBN 978-1-149-17667-2 Link
  71. Ernst Haeckel: The world riddle. Common studies on monistic philosophy. 1st edition. Strauss, Bonn 1899. Exact evidence?
  72. Heinz Brücher: Ernst Haeckel's blood and spiritual inheritance. A cultural biological monograph. JF Lehmanns , Munich 1936.
  73. ^ Günter Hecht, Biology and National Socialism Journal for the Entire Natural Science 3, (1937-38), 285
  74. Cf. Stefan Breuer : Aesthetic Fundamentalism and Eugenics with Kurt Hildebrandt. In: Bernhard Böschenstein u. a. (Ed.): Scientists in the George Circle . The world of the poet and the profession of science, de Gruyter, Berlin 2005, pp. 291–310, here 306.
  75. Kurt Hildebrandt, The importance of the theory of descent for the world view, magazine for the entire natural science 3, (1937-38), 17
  76. ^ Robert J. Richards: Myth: That Darwin and Haeckel were Complicit in Nazi Biology , in: Ronald L. Numbers (Ed.): Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion , Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. ( online) (PDF; 50 kB)
  77. ^ "Guidelines for the inventory check in the public libraries of Saxony" Die Bücherei 2 (1935): 279-80.
  78. ^ Daniel Gasman: The Scientific Origins of National Socialism. Routledge, 2017. ISBN 978-0-7658-0581-2 . P. 7.
  79. Pioneer of Scientific Truth in New Germany, August 3, 2019 (link for a fee)
  80. ^ Reasons for the award at the Royal Society
  81. Member entry by Ernst Haeckel (with picture) at the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , accessed on February 6, 2016.
  82. Member entry by Ernst Haeckel (with picture) at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on February 6, 2016.
  83. ^ Member History: Ernst Haeckel. American Philosophical Society, accessed September 18, 2018 .
  84. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed December 13, 2019 .
  85. Up to Chapter 10; therefore incomplete, not edited since 2008
  86. Chapter 1. The following chapters: by changing the number in the URL. With the illustrations of the print edition, Ges. Werke 6, 1924
  87. Only available online