Georg Buechner

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Georg Büchner, pencil drawing by August Hoffmann, ca.1835

Karl Georg Büchner (born October 17, 1813 in Goddelau , Grand Duchy of Hesse , † February 19, 1837 in Zurich ) was a German writer , doctor , scientist and revolutionary . Despite his narrow oeuvre - he died at the age of 23 - he is considered one of the most important writers of the Vormärz . Parts of his work are classified as exile literature .


Childhood and adolescence

Georg Büchner's birthplace in Goddelau

Georg Büchner was born in 1813 as the son of the doctor Karl Ernst Büchner and his wife Louise Caroline Büchner, née Reuss. He was the first of eight children, two of whom died shortly after birth. The five surviving siblings of George were:

In 1816 the family moved to Darmstadt , where the father held a position as a city ​​physician and hospital doctor.

From 1821 on, the eight-year-old Georg attended the private education and teaching institute of the theologian Carl Weitershausen. It is not known whether he had previously received elementary instruction in a Darmstadt preschool. At Weitershausen, the students were instructed in numerous subjects, including the foreign languages ​​French, Latin and Greek. In 1825, at the age of eleven, he switched to neo-humanist education , which had been headed by the classical philologist Carl Dilthey from 1826 , who now became Büchner's Latin teacher. In addition to Latin, Büchner also learned Greek and French. Later, in the summer semester of 1830, he also took part in an intensive course in Italian. In 1829/1830 the essay on the "Heroes-Death of the Four Hundred Pforzheimer" was written in history class . At the end of each semester there was a three-day school celebration. Büchner gave two speeches on this occasion, including one on September 29, 1830 "in defense of the Kato [sic] of Utica" , an ardent advocate of the Roman Republic . He had committed suicide out of love for freedom, because the people under Caesar's rule were only slaves according to Cato. In the spring of 1831, Büchner left school with a school-leaving certificate attesting that he had “good dispositions” and a “clear and penetrating mind”.

Studied in Strasbourg

August Hoffmann: Pencil drawing from 1833 (Whether the person depicted is Georg Büchner has not yet been reliably proven.)

On November 9, 1831, at the age of 18, Georg Büchner enrolled in the Medical Faculty of the University of Strasbourg , where he studied comparative anatomy from 1831 to 1833. He lived in the house of the Protestant pastor Johann Jakob Jaeglé, a friend of the Alsatian Reuss branch, and met his daughter Wilhelmine. In Strasbourg in December he was welcomed by the defeated generals of the uprising of the oppressed Poles (by the tsarist troops) . These and other events are attested by his numerous letters to his parents. From then on, Büchner advocated political freedoms more and more frequently. This was also the case when he gave a lecture on the political situation in Germany on May 24, 1832 in front of the Eugenia student union . Büchner had joined Eugenia as a “permanent guest” (“hospes perpetuus”), since the number of members was limited to twelve and to theologians. The Eugenia also included August Stöber , Adolphe Stoeber and Eugène Boeckel .

In 1832 Büchner secretly got engaged to Wilhelmine Jaeglé (1810–1880), the recipient of the so-called “Fatalism Letter” , in which Büchner formulated his program of man as the “subjectum” of history: Man could not actively participate in the all-consuming process of History intervene, but become their plaything, "foam on the wave" .

Büchner later called the years in Strasbourg his happiest time, because the political climate in France at the time of the July Revolution was much more open than in Darmstadt. It has not been proven whether Büchner was already a member of the Society for Human Rights . However, it later served him as a model for a company he founded specifically.

University of Giessen

Alexis Muston: Büchner's sketch, around 1835
The first page of the Hessischer Landbote with the slogan “Peace to the huts! War on the palaces! "

For starting in November winter semester 1833/34 changed Georg Buchner, registered on 31 October 1833 at the University in Giessen , as maximum of two years studying abroad (outside of Hesse-Darmstadt) were allowed. Here in the Grand Duchy of Hesse he directly experienced the harassment of the authorities and the violence in the state. From now on he could no longer observe what was going on from a sober distance.

From this time major health problems have been handed down to Büchner. Not only was he saddened by the separation from his fiancée, he also disliked his entire situation. Compared to Strasbourg, the teachers in Giessen had little to offer him. Justus Liebig taught chemistry here, but Büchner was only interested in philosophy and medicine . Later one of his Gießen lecturers, the physician Johann Bernhard Wilbrand , served him as a template for the narrow-minded and inhumane doctor in Woyzeck .

Büchner was also dissatisfied with his fellow students . There were indeed opposition efforts, but these were not radical enough for him. He also criticized the fact that the students wanted to keep to themselves; Büchner, on the other hand, advocated accepting other citizens. That is why he founded the Society for Human Rights , a secret organization based on the French model, together with former schoolmates from Darmstadt (who at that time were studying in Giessen) and other students - including the Giessen Germanic tribes August Becker and Friedrich Jacob Schütz - as well as several craftsmen The aim was to overthrow the political situation. However, only a few members joined.

At the beginning of 1834, Büchner was introduced to Friedrich Ludwig Weidig , one of the leading opposition activists from Hessen-Darmstadt. However, there were always differences. Weidig stood for a more moderate course and tactical alliances, because this was the only way he saw the revolutionary ideas to be implemented. Büchner, on the other hand, considered material inequality and the poverty of the rural population to be the basic problem and therefore turned against a coalition with the wealthy.

In July 1834, the Hessische Landbote was illegally printed in Carl Preller's print shop in Offenbach / Main , which Büchner had written during his time in the Gießener Badenburg and which had been comprehensively revised by Weidig against Büchner's will. It is a pamphlet published under the slogan “Peace to the huts! War on the palaces! ” The Hessian rural population called for a revolution against oppression. Weidig had deleted the positions that were in open conflict with potential allies. Büchner therefore found that Weidig had robbed the font of its basic intention. Despite Weidig's weakening, the writing was sharply criticized by many liberal oppositionists. On the other hand, it was received positively by the rural population, which is why a second edition was published in September 1834, the text of which, however, the co-conspiratorial doctor Leopold Eichelberg weakened even more. The writing is characterized by the use of statistics, which showed the rural population that they financed the excessive expenses of the court with their tax burden. In August Karl Minnigerode , one of the conspirators, was caught and arrested with 150 copies of the Landbote . On August 4th, the university judge Konrad Georgi had Büchner's room searched in his absence. A day later, Büchner was questioned by Georgi, but not arrested.

Escape to Strasbourg

Profile that Georg Büchner was searched for

In 1835, Büchner said he wrote Danton's death within five weeks and sent the manuscript to Karl Gutzkow with a request for it to be published quickly. He needed money for the planned escape. Danton's death describes the failure of the French Revolution. In contrast to the historical Danton, who failed due to tactical errors, the literary Danton recognized the pointlessness of his enterprise right from the start. After Büchner had not obeyed a summons from the Friedberg investigating judge, he was wanted on a wanted list. On March 9, he fled to Strasbourg via Weißenburg . But he did not get the money from the proceeds of Danton's death , as the investigations came to a head even before the contract was signed. At the last moment Büchner confided in his mother, who gave him money. After Büchner's escape, his father broke off all contact with him, but allowed his mother to continue to support Büchner with money.

Danton's death was published in late July. In the same summer Büchner translated two dramas by Victor Hugo into German: Lucretia Borgia and Maria Tudor . In autumn he dealt with the story Lenz , in which the mental suffering of the writer Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz is presented.

In the winter of 1835/36 Büchner devoted himself to science again. He researched the nervous system of the fish and completed his dissertation treatise on the nervous system of the barbel . In the spring of 1836 he presented the work in several readings of the Society for Natural Science in Strasbourg. He was then accepted as a member and the work was published by the Society. A few months later he also made his comedy Leonce and Lena , with which he wanted to take part in a competition at the Cotta'sche publishing house . However, he missed the deadline and received the manuscript back unread.

Last months in Zurich

Memorial plaque in Spiegelgasse  12
Gravestone on the Germania hill

Büchner submitted his work Mémoire sur le système nerveux du barbeau (Cyprinus Barbus L.) at the end of July 1836 to the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Zurich and was on September 3, 1836, in absentia, by the expert opinion of Professors Lorenz Oken , Heinrich Rudolf Schinz , Carl Löwig and Oswald Heer received their doctorate in philosophy. On October 18, 1836, he moved to Zurich, on November 5, 1836, Büchner gave his trial lecture on the cranial nerves and was appointed private lecturer . His course “ Zootomic Demonstrations”, in which he taught the anatomy of fish and amphibians using self-made specimens , was attended only by a few students. One of them, August Lüning , remembered it with enthusiasm 40 years later. Even before moving to Zurich, Büchner had started working on the Woyzeck in Strasbourg. He took drafts with him to Switzerland - the work remained a fragment .

For the following semester, Büchner planned another course, which, however, no longer took place. On February 2, 1837, he fell seriously ill with typhus . He may have been infected while working on his preparations. His neighbors, the German refugees Caroline and Wilhelm Schulz , with whom he had been friends since his exile in Strasbourg, looked after him and informed Wilhelmine Jaeglé. In his last days, the attending doctor was Johann Lukas Schönlein . Georg Büchner died on February 19, 1837 in the presence of his bride and the Schulz couple. He was buried in the “Krautgarten” cemetery in the city of Zurich outside of the then Lindentor (where the Zurich Kunsthaus is today). A few hundred people, including his university colleagues and the two Zurich mayors, gave him final escort . After the cemetery was leveled, in 1875 the remains were transferred to the "Germania hill" (named after the popular meeting place of the "Germania" student union , a union of German university students in Zurich). The grave is still there today, on its own, not in a cemetery, at the “Rigiblick” viewpoint (mountain station of the Rigiblick cable car ).

Literary meaning

As a poet from Vormärz, Büchner is a politically critical author and opponent of unrealistic romantic poetry. In his works he also deals with torn people who fluctuate between opposites and who are unable to make consistent decisions. The special thing is the choice of material and the psychological drawing of the characters. The title character in Woyzeck, for example, comes from the lowest social class, an unusual milieu in German literature. The psychological side of his characters in particular is precisely drawn. The use of colloquial language as a stylistic device is also new.


Edition history

Büchner's fiancée Minna Jaeglé (approx. 1830)

13 years after Georg Büchner's death, his brother Ludwig published the Nachlasses Schriften in 1850 . Woyzeck, for example, was not included in it. because the manuscript was badly faded and largely illegible. The Austrian writer Karl Emil Franzos published Georg Büchner in 1879 : All works and handwritten legacy , in which the fragment was also available to the public for the first time in a heavily revised version. He also put forward the assumption, based on disputes between Wilhelmine Jaegle and Büchner's siblings about his legacy, that Büchner's fiancée had destroyed Pietro Aretino out of opposition to the atheistic tendencies of the work. However, there is no further evidence for this. She herself made it clear that she only withheld personal correspondence.

Fritz Bergemann published all works and letters in 1922 . The incomplete critical-historical edition by Werner R. Lehmann (1979) was also the basis of the edition Works and Letters in one volume by Carl-Hanser-Verlag in 1980. All works, letters and documents in two volumes , 1992/1999 edited by Henri Poschmann, is another edition of Büchner's complete works (since 2002 as a paperback by Insel-Verlag). The Marburg edition , a historically critical edition of the complete works and writings of Georg Büchner , was supervised by the Georg Büchner Research Center at the Philipps University of Marburg and was published in ten volumes from 2000 to 2012: Schülerschriften (Volume 1, in two Partial volumes), »Der Hessische Landbote« (Volume 2), »Danton's Tod« (Volume 3, in four partial volumes), translations (Volume 4), »Lenz« (Volume 5), »Leonce and Lena« (Volume 6), »Woyzeck« (Volume 7, in two parts), Natural Science Writings (Volume 8), Philosophical Writings (Volume 9, in two parts) and Correspondence (Volume 10).

Büchner in the film

  • Woyzeck has been filmed twelve times since 1947
  • Danton's death has been filmed four times so far, Lenz twice, Leonce and Lena three times.

Büchner in the radio play

Radio play about Georg Büchner

In 1978 the BR and the HR jointly produced a 50-minute radio play about Georg Büchner by Hans Rothe under the title Special Features: Short-sighted . Charles Brauer ( Friedrich Ludwig Weidig ), Udo Samel (Georg Büchner), Heini Göbel (Oberamtsrat), Karl-Maria Schley (Oberhofrat), Manfred Trabant (Oberaufseher Schmidt), Ulrich Lauterbach (Berlin voice) spoke under the direction of Ulrich Lauterbach , Max Eckard (father Büchner), Gustl Halenke ( Luise Büchner , sister), Sophie Engelke (mother Büchner), Walter Renneisen (brother Büchner), Rita Russek (Minna Jäglé), Hans Quest (father Jäglé), Michael Gempart (Professor Hölzli) , Reto Feurer (Swiss student), Hans Stetter (Doctor Zahnder), Alois Maria Giani (Doctor Schönlein).

Büchner in comics

Dino Battaglia : Woyzeck, Altamira Verlag (1990)

Andreas Eikenroth : Woyzeck, a graphic production, Edition 52 (2019)

Andreas Eikenroth : Lenz, a graphic novella; Edition 52 (2021)

Büchner in music


  • The Georg Büchner Prize , which has been awarded since 1923, is the most important literary prize in the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • In 1967 a cargo and training ship was christened Georg Büchner in the GDR ; it sank in the Baltic Sea in May 2013 .
  • There has been a Georg Büchner Research Center in Marburg since 1981 - literature and history of the Vormärz and since 1979 a Georg Büchner Society .

Coins, postage stamps

GDR postage stamp, 1963.
  • The German post office of the GDR issued for the 150th anniversary in 1963 , a 20 penny - special stamp with a portrait Büchner and a sketch of the drama fragment Woyzeck .
  • On October 10, 2013, Deutsche Post AG issued a special postage stamp worth 58 euro cents on the occasion of Georg Büchner's 200th birthday. The design comes from the graphic artist Katrin Stengel from Berlin and shows the text of the above-mentioned profile .
  • On the occasion of his 200th birthday, a 10 euro silver coin was minted in 2013 with an edition of 200,000. In the embossing there are two quotations from the Hessischer Landbote: "War to the palaces" and "Peace to the huts".

Public places

  • Streets: Various streets such as in Bremen, Frankfurt am Main, Gera, Gießen, Jena, Magdeburg, Lemgo and Rostock were named after him.
  • Schools: In Hessen there are several Georg Büchner schools as well as a. in Berlin, Bremerhaven, Kaarst and Seelze.
  • Places



Work editions

  • Georg Büchner: All works and letters. Historical-critical edition with commentary. Edited by Werner R. Lehmann . Hanser, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-446-11673-7 .
  • Georg Büchner: Works and Letters. Based on the historical-critical edition by Werner R. Lehmann. Commented by Karl Pörnbacher, afterword by Werner R. Lehmann. Hanser, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-446-12883-2 .
  • Georg Büchner: Complete Works. Edited by Henri Poschmann . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-458-06653-5 .
  • Georg Büchner: All works and writings. Historical-critical edition with source documentation and commentary. Marburg edition. 10 volumes. Edited by Burghard Dedner , Thomas Michael Mayer . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2000–2012, ISBN 3-534-14520-8 .

Secondary literature


  • Reinhard Lindenhahn: "Everything that is is there for its own sake". Georg Büchner's last years. Novel biography. Südverlag, Konstanz 2021, ISBN 978-3-87800-153-9 .
  • Kasimir Edschmid : Georg Büchner. A German revolution. Novel. (= Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Volume 616). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1980. ISBN 3-518-37116-9 . Previous edition partly under the title If there are roses, they will bloom .

Children's books


  • Büchner protocol. In the footsteps of Georg Büchner. Germany, 2013, 44:40 min., Script / director: Dag Freyer, production: Kopfkino, 3sat , first broadcast: October 19, 2013 on 3sat, synopsis by ARD .
  • Addio, piccola mia . GDR 1978, director / script: Lothar Warneke, actors: Hilmar Eichhorn, Wolfgang Arnst, Trude Bechmann.

Web links

Commons : Georg Büchner  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Georg Büchner  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Oei : Vormärz: Heine, Hebbel, Büchner, Grabbe , Verlag Dr. Kovač, Hamburg 2020
  2. ^ "Büchner, Karl Ernst". Hessian biography. (As of August 31, 2011). In: Landesgeschichtliches Informationssystem Hessen (LAGIS).
  3. Jan-Christoph Hauschild: “Certain prospect of a stormy life” Georg Büchner 1813–1837. In: Georg Büchner. Revolutionary - poet - scientist (1813–1837). Catalog of the exhibition Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, from August 2 to September 27, 1987 , pp. 22-25.
  4. Georg Büchner was not particularly happy in Gießen , in: Gießener Allgemeine , November 2, 2008.
  5. Der fesche Dichter , in: Zeit Online , May 29, 2013.
  6. The student association "Eugenia" at the Georg Büchner portal.
  7. On Carl Preller and his connection to the social revolutionary efforts in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt see: Gerd Lautner and Jürgen Eichenauer (eds.): Hessischer Landbote and Offenbach. Documentation of the exhibition: Peace to the huts! War the palaces! , Riedstadt 2018.
  8. ^ Büchner, Georg: Mémoire sur le système nerveux du barbeau (Cyprinus barbus L.). Lu a la Societé Naturelle de Strasbourg, dans les séances du 13 Avril, du 20 Avril et du 4 May 1836. In: Mémoire de la Société du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Strasbourg, tome second .
  9. Johannes Dietl : Würzburg doctor on Georg Büchner's deathbed. Main-Post, October 18, 2013, accessed on November 17, 2013 .
  10. Dieter Wunderlich Georg Büchner, 1813–1837 / Biography , 2007, accessed on 2017-01.
  11. "In Lenz [...] [Büchner] sets standards for modern psychological storytelling.", From the online Kindlers Literatur Lexikon , Büchner, Georg; Lenz, accessed 2017-02.
  12. see Woyzeck .
  13. ^ "[Woyzeck] marks an epochal new beginning in the history of German-language drama in terms of content, form and language.", From the online Kindlers Literatur Lexikon , Büchner, Georg; Woyzeck, accessed 2017-02.
  14. ^ Georg Büchner research center at the Philipps University of Marburg: Marburg edition: Historical-critical edition of the complete works and writings of Georg Büchner. Volume distribution and edition plan , accessed on May 27, 2013.
  15. Directory of the film adaptations at Büchnerbühne archive link ( Memento from December 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  16. ^ Defa-Stiftung zu Warneke Warneke, Lothar .
  17. "Wodzeck" , information on the film (accessed on 23 December 2019) on
  18. ^ BR radio play Pool - Büchner, Dantons Tod .
  19. Postage stamp 2013
  20. Silver coin 2013
  21. Georg Büchner - Revolutionary with pen and scalpel ,