Franz Altheim

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Franz Altheim (born October 6, 1898 in Frankfurt am Main , † October 17, 1976 in Münster in Westphalia ) was a German ancient historian and classical philologist .

Live and act

Altheim was the son of the painter Wilhelm Altheim , who committed suicide on Christmas Day 1914. Franz attended a grammar school in Frankfurt and studied classical philology and ancient studies at the University of Frankfurt from 1916 to 1921 . He also did military service as a translator in Turkey in 1917 and later wore a combatant badge . In December 1921 he received his doctorate under Hans von Arnim with the dissertation The Composition of the Politics of Aristotle . In 1925 Altheim received a scholarship from the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft . In 1928 his habilitation took place under Walter F. Otto on the subject of Greek gods in ancient Rome . He also got to know Karl Kerényi and Leo Frobenius with their interests in the history of religion; the latter introduced him to Doorn with the German ex-emperor Wilhelm II. He was then a private lecturer until 1935, and from 1936 an extraordinary professor of classical philology at the University of Frankfurt am Main . In the winter of 1936 he was a deputy professor at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg . He belonged to the George circle and was a member of the SA from 1934 to 1936 . In 1937 he became an associate professor for classical philology at the University of Halle, and in 1943 he became a full professor.

He owed his appointment to his collaboration with the " German Ahnenerbe " funded by Heinrich Himmler , which financed his research trips. He worked in Val Camonica , Italy , where he accompanied the field artist Erika Trautmann-Nehring (1897–1968). With her as his partner, he traveled to Sweden, Romania and the Middle East in the summer and autumn of 1938. They prepared reports for the SD on the mood in the countries towards Nazi Germany and the Jews and Zionism . Altheim was an employee of the Ahnenerbe-Verein and, alongside Walther Wüst , Wolfram Sievers , Karl August Eckhardt and other scientists, was a member of the expert committee of the Ahnenerbe research project "Forest and Tree". Sievers' 1939 put forward plans to found a "racial-historical institute" dealing with antiquity, he fully agreed. In the action war effort of the humanities , he worked for the group of Indogermanentums vital forces and beings on Indo-European traits among the Celts .

In 1945 Altheim was initially dismantled, but soon reinstated. In 1948 he became a professor of ancient history in Halle, but in 1950 he switched to the chair of ancient history at the newly founded Free University of Berlin , which he held until his retirement in 1964. Then Altheim moved to Münster / Westphalia. The Münster old historian Ruth Altheim-Stiehl , who worked on several of his works, is his adopted daughter.

Altheim was listed as a member of the Patronage Committee of the Nouvelle École after his death . The magazine is one of the mouthpieces of the right-wing extremist GRECE .

Originally a Latinist , Altheim turned more and more to ancient history in Halle at the latest. He wrote a large number of monographs, some of which were also translated into other languages. Altheim dealt primarily with the Hellenistic and Roman history as well as with the Roman religious history and the history of the ancient Orient.


  • Greek gods in ancient Rome . Giessen 1930. New edition 1980.
  • Terra Mater. Studies on the ancient Italian religious history . Töpelmann, Giessen 1931.
  • Roman religious history . 3 volumes, de Gruyter, Berlin 1931–1933. 2nd edition in 2 volumes 1956.
  • Epochs of Roman History . 2 volumes, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1934–1935.
  • Lex sacrata . Pantheon, Amsterdam 1939.
  • The soldier emperors . Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1939 (= German Ahnenerbe , vol. 1).
  • (with Erika Trautmann ): From the origin of the runes. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1939 (= German Ahnenerbe , vol. 3).
  • (with Erika Trautmann): Italy and the Doric hike. Pantheon, Amsterdam 1940.
  • Italy and Rome . 2 volumes, Pantheon, Amsterdam 1941. 3rd edition. 1944.
  • Rome and Hellenism . Pantheon, Amsterdam 1942.
  • Helios and Heliodor of Emesa . Pantheon, Amsterdam 1942.
  • (with Erika Trautmann-Nehring): Cimbri and runes. Investigations into the question of the origin of the runes. Ahnenerbe, Berlin 1942.
  • The crisis of the old world in the 3rd century AD and their causes . 2 volumes. Ahnenerbe, Berlin 1943.
  • Goths and Finns in the third and fourth centuries . Ranke, Berlin 1944.
  • World history of Asia in the Greek era . 2 volumes. Niemeyer, Halle 1947–1948.
  • Roman history . 3 volumes, de Gruyter, Berlin 1948–1958. Another edition Klostermann, Frankfurt 1951–1953.
  • Literature and Society in Late Antiquity . 2 volumes. Niemeyer, Halle 1948–1950.
  • The origin of the Etruscans . Publishing house for art and science, Baden-Baden 1950.
  • History of the Latin Language . Klostermann, Frankfurt 1951.
  • From late antiquity and Christianity . Niemeyer, Tübingen 1951.
  • Attila and the Huns . Publishing house for art and science, Baden-Baden 1951.
  • Decline of the old world. An investigation into the causes . 2 volumes, Klostermann, Frankfurt 1952.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl ): Asia and Rome. New documents from the early Sassanid period. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1952.
  • Alexander and Asia. Story of a spiritual heritage . Niemeyer, Tübingen 1953.
  • Face of evening and morning. From antiquity to the Middle Ages . Fischer, Frankfurt 1954.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl): An Asian State. Feudalism under the Sassanids. Limes, Wiesbaden 1954.
  • Rich around midnight. Asia's way to Europe . Rowohlt, Hamburg 1955.
  • The undefeated god. Paganism and Christianity . Rowohlt, Hamburg 1957.
  • Utopia and economy. A historical consideration . Klostermann, Frankfurt 1957.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl): Financial history of late antiquity. Klostermann, Frankfurt 1957.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl): Philologia sacra. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1958.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl): The Aramaic language among the Achaemenids. 3 deliveries. Klostermann, Frankfurt 1959–1963.
  • History of the Huns . 5 volumes, de Gruyter, Berlin 1959–1962.
  • Zarathustra and Alexander. An east-west encounter . Fischer, Frankfurt 1960.
  • Development aid in ancient times. The great empires and their neighbors Rowohlt, Reinbek 1962.
  • The Arabs in the old world . 6 volumes, de Gruyter, Berlin 1964–69.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl): History of Central Asia in Antiquity. de Gruyter, Berlin 1970.
  • (with Ruth Stiehl): Christianity on the Red Sea. 2 volumes, de Gruyter, Berlin 1971–1973.


  • Ernst Baltrusch : Altheim, Franz. In: Peter Kuhlmann , Helmuth Schneider (Ed.): History of the ancient sciences. Biographical Lexicon (= The New Pauly . Supplements. Volume 6). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02033-8 , column 24 f.
  • Karl Christ : Roman history and German history. Beck, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08887-2 , pp. 246-254.
  • Michael H. Kater : The "Ahnenerbe" of the SS, 1935–1945. A contribution to the cultural policy of the Third Reich. DVA, Stuttgart 1974, ISBN 3-421-01623-2 .
  • Lothar Mertens : Lexicon of the GDR historians. Biographies and bibliographies on the historians from the German Democratic Republic. Saur, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-598-11673-X , pp. 102-103.
  • Ruth Stiehl , Hans Erich Stier (Hrsg.): Contributions to ancient history and their afterlife. Festschrift for Franz Altheim on October 6, 1968. 2 volumes, de Gruyter, Berlin 1969–1970.
  • Philippe Baillet, "Franz Altheim (1898–1976): de l '" Ahnenerbe "à la consécration internationale après 1945. Eléments bio-bibliographiques", in: Adriano Romualdi, La "Migration nordique" en Italie - Premiers Latins et Vénètes du Val Camonica aux monts albains , Aidôs, Saint-Genis-Laval, 2020, 77 pp. 49-71.

Web links


  1. Volker Koop: Himmlers Germanenwahn , Berlin 2012, pp. 117f
  2. Michael H. Kater: The "Ahnenerbe" of the SS. Stuttgart 1974, p. 76ff .; see. also B.-A. Rusinek: forest and tree in the Aryan-Germanic intellectual and cultural history. A research project of the 'Ahnenerbe' of the SS 1937-1945. In: Albrecht Lehmann, Klaus Schriewer (ed.): The forest - a German myth? Perspectives on a cultural topic. Berlin / Hamburg 2000, pp. 267-363. (= Life forms, vol. 16)
  3. Kater: The "Ahnenerbe" of the SS. P. 99.
  4. The annual information on Altheim's career deviates slightly from one another in different years of Kürschner's Scholarly Calendar and the German Biographical Encyclopedia .
  5. Nouvelle École. Vol. 40, 1983.