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A publication for a festive occasion is called a Festschrift (also Festgabe or liber amicorum ) . The world's first commemorative publication was published in Leipzig in 1640 with contributions from many German poets on the occasion of the bicentenary of the invention of the art of printing . It was published by Gregor Ritzsch .


Festschrift on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Thomas von Trattner

In librarianship , the academic use of the term predominates, which usually regards the collection of essays devoted to a scholar as a Festschrift . The contributions to this type of publication are usually written by students, friends or specialist colleagues for the honored's birthday. The contributions are very often accompanied by an acknowledgment of the honoree with a photo and his or her list of publications as complete as possible. Therefore, they are considered an important source in the history of science .

The question as to the occasions for which a declaration should be made is answered differently. The Association of German Constitutional Law Teachers , on the initiative of HP Ipsen, issued a recommendation that Festschrifts only be published from the 70th birthday onwards, but this did not succeed. However, Festschrifts are rarely published before the 60th birthday, and such an anthology is often published by his students and friends on the occasion of the retirement or retirement of a researcher. Some scientists are also honored with several such festivities, for example a commemorative publication was published for Rudolf von Laun on his 65th, 70th, 80th and 90th birthday.

The custom of publishing a commemorative publication to mark the 50th anniversary of the doctorate is no longer in vogue. The screen that appears after a person's death Commemorative be as Memorial or Memorial Volumes referred. Occasionally the collection of the honored's own essays is adorned with the title Festschrift. In addition to explicit commemorative publications, works can also contain a dedication . Festschriften are usually presented in a festive setting, sometimes their creation is kept secret from the person to be honored, so that it appears as a surprise.

Festschrifts that consist entirely or in part of greetings or letters from friends addressed to the recipient of the Festschrift are rather unusual; Works of art or literary texts created especially for this occasion can also be displayed here.

Festschriften were and are often published as subscriptions ; the names of the subscribers or donors are then usually placed in front of the Festschrift as "Tabula Gratulatoria". In this way, people who have not written a contribution to the Festschrift can also take part in honoring the recipient. Such name directories are also a source of scientific history, as they also document connections of the honored person from the non-scientific or private area.

Not only people, but also institutions are honored with commemorative publications on their anniversaries . So appeared z. B. a four-volume commemorative publication on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Federal Court of Justice and a commemorative publication on the 225th anniversary of the CH Beck publishing house .

In English-language publications in the Anglo-American region, one sometimes comes across the German term Festschrift. Otherwise, in English, Festschriften are often called essays in honor of ...

Outside of science, the term Festschrift is often used in general for publications on a festive occasion, for example a club or company anniversary, the inauguration of a new building, etc. The only thing these publications have in common with an academic Festschrift is that they appear on a specific event , their content can be of very different nature. They are also mostly aimed at a wider audience.


The publication of Festschriften is controversial. It is undisputed that the collections often contain important research contributions, but the lack of selectivity and, above all, the often strong heterogeneity of the contributions are cited as criticisms . For example, some authors “recycle” articles that have previously been rejected by magazines. On the other hand, it is criticized that articles are withdrawn from specialist journals in this way, which allegedly has the consequence that these articles are less available in libraries than journals.

Festschriften, which only consist of reprints of the honored person's own publications, are often viewed critically, as they do not represent any scientific (novelty) value and can help to carry on an outdated state of research. Page numbers that differ from the original publication in the articles reprinted in such a commemorative publication should also be viewed critically, as they can lead to confusion when quoting. The use of often considerable financial resources for such reprints is considered problematic if they are withdrawn from the publication of current scientific work.

Especially in the case of Festschriften, in which the honored person has not yet reached retirement age, but is still in full possession of the power conferred by their position, it is also criticized that the editors and authors sometimes try to gain career advantages.


In his satirical novel Die Festschrift , the Germanist and linguist Werner Zillig sees the work on such a publication as extremely critical.


The International Annual Bibliography of the Festschriften (IJBF) serves as bibliographical evidence of dependent literature that is published in Festschriften , which KG Saur now offers as a fee-based database with a database from 1986 onwards .


  • Ute Wardenga and Eugen Wirth : Geographical Festschriften - Institution, Ritual or Drama? In: Geographical Journal . Year 1995, issue 1.
  • Helmuth Schulze-Fielitz : Scientific publications on an honorary basis. About festschriften for the 65th birthday, symposia and selected papers. In: Die Verwaltung ( reports and criticism. ) 1996, pp. 565–574.
  • Ingo von Münch : The festschrift being and mischief. In: New legal weekly . Year 2000, issue 44, p. 3253.
  • Benjamin Lahusen: FS Festschrift. In: myops No. 4 (2008), p. 64 ff.

Web links

Commons : Festschrift  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Festschrift  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. So z. B. the two-volume Festschrift for the archivist Franz-Josef Heyen , the first volume of which contains only letters and personal memories of friends: Johannes Mötsch (Ed.): Ein Eifler für Rheinland-Pfalz. Mainz 2003.
  2. Werner Zillig: The Festschrift. A novel. Klöpfer & Meyer, Tübingen 2004. ISBN 978-3-937667-00-3