Eugene Kogon

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Eugen Kogon, at an event on January 19, 1970 at the University of Kiel

Eugen Kogon (born February 2, 1903 in Munich , † December 24, 1987 in Königstein im Taunus ) was a German publicist , sociologist and political scientist . Because of his Christian opposition to National Socialism , he was interned in the Buchenwald concentration camp for several years . Kogon is considered one of the intellectual fathers of the Federal Republic of Germany and of European integration . He became known to a wider public through his work The SS State .


The SS State (1946)

Eugen Kogon was born the illegitimate son of a Jewish doctor who died two years after his birth. Kogon then spent the first decade of his life as a foster child in Munich and later in a Catholic boarding school. After studying economics and sociology in Munich, Florence and Vienna , Kogon received his doctorate in Vienna in 1927 with a thesis on fascism and the corporative state . In the same year Kogon got a job as an editor at the Catholic magazine Schönere Zukunft in Austria and stayed that way until 1937. Through his work he made the acquaintance of the sociologist Othmar Spann , who recommended him to the central commission of the Christian trade unions , for whom Kogon made some Worked as a consultant for years. In 1934, after the failed Austrian July coup of the National Socialists, Kogon took over the asset management of the Saxon-Coburg-Koháry family .


As an avowed opponent of National Socialism, Eugen Kogon was arrested in Germany in 1936 and again in March 1937 by the Gestapo , who accused him, among other things, of working for anti- National Socialist forces outside the Reich area . Specifically, Kogon had supported political refugees with money. After the annexation of Austria , the third arrest followed in March and deportation to the Buchenwald concentration camp in September 1939 . With interruptions in which he was transferred to a Gestapo prison in Vienna, Kogon was imprisoned here until the camp was liberated.

In Buchenwald, on the advice of Otto Kipp and Ferdinand Römhild, in May 1943 , Kogon became the doctor's clerk for the concentration camp doctor Erwin Ding-Schuler , who headed the typhus experimental station in the Buchenwald concentration camp. According to his own information, Kogon was able to build an almost trusting relationship through his work with Ding-Schuler. Over time, even conversations about family issues, the political situation and the course of the front are said to have arisen. According to Kogon, his influence on Ding-Schuler saved the lives of many prisoners , including Stéphane Hessel . On April 5, 1945, Kogon and Arthur Dietzsch , senior inmate nurses at the typhus experimental station, learned from Ding-Schuler that they were on a list of 46 named inmates whom the SS wanted to execute shortly before the camp was liberated. Ding-Schuler saved Kogon's life on April 8th by smuggling him out of Buchenwald in a box and bringing him to his house.

After the end of the war

Kogon at his testimony on April 16, 1947 at the main Buchenwald trial

Kogon was initially an advisor to the Psychological Warfare Division of the US Army, which was based in Bad Homburg . Soon he was also active again as a journalist. He worked as a volunteer chronicler for the US Army at Camp King and in the same year began his book The SS State: The System of German Concentration Camps , which was published in 1946 and is still considered the standard work on Nazi crimes today. The book has been translated into several languages ​​and sold over 500,000 times in German alone.

Kogon testified as a witness for the prosecution at the beginning of January 1947 at the Nuremberg medical trial and at the end of April 1947 at the trial against those responsible for the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office . At the beginning of April 1947 he witnessed the indictment in the main Buchenwald trial , which took place as part of the Dachau trials .

Despite this intensive examination of the past, Kogon primarily looked ahead to help build a new society - a society that Kogon believed should combine Christianity and socialism. He had already spoken to Kurt Schumacher about this idea in Buchenwald concentration camp . However, the rapid development of the SPD prevented the planned unification of right-wing social democracy and the center into a party of work modeled on the British Labor Party .


In September 1945, Kogon wrote the Frankfurt Guidelines together with other personalities, including the publicist and later friend and companion of Kogons Walter Dirks . In this program of the People's Party , they called for economic socialism on a democratic basis and thus laid an important foundation for the Christian-socialist founding program of the Hessian CDU and thus also for the Hessian state constitution , which was passed at the end of 1946 and provided for the nationalization of key industries. In 1946, Kogon and Dirks founded Frankfurter Hefte , a left - Catholic magazine for culture and politics. The Frankfurter Hefte quickly reached a very high circulation of up to 75,000 copies for the time, and until 1984 they were one of the most influential social and cultural-political magazines of the post-war period . In the Imshausen company, Kogon took part in the search for a “third way” in the renewal of Germany. Kogon quickly turned away from Konrad Adenauer's CDU , which no longer wanted to know much about common property and the nationalization of key industries, and dealt critically with the Adenauer government in numerous essays . Among other things, he turned against rearmament , nuclear weapons and the "madness of overarming ".

European politician

As a lesson from National Socialism, Kogon also early called for a departure from the classic nation state and advocated the construction of a European republic . He was involved in the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and in the Europa-Union Germany , of which he was first president from 1949 to 1954. During this time, Kogon initiated the trial referendums successfully carried out in Breisach am Rhein and Castrop-Rauxel in 1950 for a commitment to a politically united Europe. From 1951 to 1953 Kogon was also President of the German Council of the European Movement .

Alfred Grosser counted him, together with Henri Frenay and Altiero Spinelli , to the three real "creators of Europe".

Later years

In 1951, Kogon was the first time established Chair of Political Science at the Technical University of Darmstadt to Professor appointed. He taught there until his retirement in 1968. Later he certified the university president Johann-Dietrich Wörner : He has shaped the moral conscience of the university today . From January 1964 to January 1965, Kogon was director of the ARD political magazine Panorama , and since March 1964 its moderator. Since 1950 he was a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry .

Later, Kogon supported the social-liberal coalition's Ostpolitik and actively campaigned for reconciliation with Poland and the Soviet Union . The State of Hesse honored Kogon in 1982 with the newly created Hessian Culture Prize . He spent the last years of his life largely withdrawn in Königstein im Taunus , where he died on Christmas Eve in 1987 .

Kogon was married to his childhood friend Margarethe Lang (1902–1989) since 1927. The children Alexius, Michael and Cornelia emerged from the marriage.


The city of Königstein named a street after him and has been awarding the Eugen Kogon Prize since 2002 . The first prize winner was the former Polish Foreign Minister Władysław Bartoszewski .

In October 2013, a street on the Lichtwiese campus of the TU Darmstadt was named after Eugen Kogon.




  • Hubert Habicht (ed.): Eugen Kogon - a political publicist in Hesse. Essays, essays and speeches between 1946 and 1982 . Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 3-458-14046-8 .
  • Karl Prümm : Walter Dirks and Eugen Kogon as Catholic publicists of the Weimar Republic . Catholic Press, Heidelberg 1984, ISBN 3-533-03549-2 .
  • Jürgen Mittag : From a circle of dignitaries to a European network. Six decades of the European Movement in Germany. In: 60 Years of the European Movement Germany. Berlin 2009, pp. 12-28. Online ( Memento from January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  • Michael Kogon: “Dear dad! - How's the weather with you? ”Memories of my father Eugen Kogon. Letters from Buchenwald concentration camp . Pattloch, Munich 2014. ISBN 978-3-629-13054-9 .
  • Ansgar Lange : Eugen Kogon as a Christian publicist. In: The New Order , vol. 58 (2004), issue 3 (June).
  • Gabriel Rolfes: "The place of the new beginnings, I said, will have to be the magazine": Eugen Kogon and Walter Dirks as editors of the Frankfurter Hefte in the early Federal Republic. In: Alexander Gallus / Sebastian Liebold / Frank Shell (eds.): Measurements of an Intellectual History of the Early Federal Republic. Göttingen 2020, pp. 333-350, ISBN 978-3-8353-3472-4 .

Web links

Commons : Eugen Kogon  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Died: Eugen Kogon . In: Der Spiegel . No. 1 , 1988 ( online ).
  2. He took advantage of the bad hour. Der Tagesspiegel, December 12, 2014, accessed on May 18, 2018 .
  3. ^ Resistance from the first hour. Deutschlandfunk Kultur, January 24, 2015, accessed on May 18, 2018 .
  4. Eugen Kogon: The SS State - The System of German Concentration Camps , 1974, p. 318 ff.
  5. Eugen Kogon: The SS State - The System of German Concentration Camps , 1974, p. 338 f.
  6. List of witnesses in the medical trial ( memento of the original from May 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Introduction to NMT Case 4 - USA v. Pohl et al. ( Memento of the original from July 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on www. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Eugen Kogon at
  9. Cf. Volker Kempf: Introduction. In: Ders., Rudolf Stettin (Hrsg.): The European Union. Perspectives with a future? Bad Schussenried 2012, pp. 11–13, here p. 11 f.
  10. Jürgen Mittag: From the circle of dignitaries to the European network. Six decades of the European Movement in Germany. In: 60 Years of the European Movement Germany. Berlin 2009, pp. 12–28, here: p. 16 Online ( Memento from January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  11. ^ Ernst-Otto Czempiel: Democrat and Europeans. For the hundredth birthday of the publicist Eugen Kogon . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , February 1, 2003. 
  12. ^ Andreas Wang: Book review. , November 3, 2014.