Hans Ernst Schneider

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Hans Ernst Schneider (born December 15, 1909 in Königsberg , † December 18, 1999 in Marquartstein im Chiemgau ) was a German SS-Hauptsturmführer and literary scholar . After the Second World War he called himself Hans Schwerte , gave his date and place of birth on October 3, 1910 in Hildesheim and became professor and rector of RWTH Aachen University .


Hans E. Schneider (1909–1945)

Hans Ernst Schneider was born in Königsberg as the son of an insurance employee. Among other things, he studied literary and art history in Königsberg , Berlin and Vienna . In 1932 he joined the National Socialist German Student Union and in 1933 the SA . Schneider received his doctorate in 1935 in Königsberg on the subject “Early Translations by Turgenev ”, which was assigned by Josef Nadler . He was examined in literature by Paul Hankamer , in art history by Wilhelm Worringer and in philosophy by Hans Heyse . From 1935 on he headed a department in the National Socialist Reichsbund for physical exercises . In April 1937 he switched from the SA to the SS ; a few days later he became a member of the NSDAP . He rose to the position of SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain) and became "department head in the personal staff of Reichsführer SS" Heinrich Himmler , for whom he worked in particular in the " Ahnenerbe ".

From 1940 to 1942 he worked in the occupied Netherlands , where he published ethnic propaganda, was responsible for contacts and for the confiscation of laboratory facilities that were intended for human experiments in Dachau . A direct involvement in such crimes could not be proven later. Schneider also influenced the work of the German Scientific Institutes in Brussels and Copenhagen . From 1942 on he acted as head of the "Germanic Science Mission", whose task it was to research the commonality of the Germanic peoples in the occupied territories.

Schneider took part in the European poets' meeting in Weimar in 1941 and 1942, organized by the Propaganda Ministry , and made friends. a. with the Dutch writer Jan Eekhout .

Hans Schwerte (1945–1999)

After he found his child and wife in 1946, she had him pronounced dead . They claimed that he was in the last days of the war in the Battle of Berlin fell. A year later she married him under the name Hans Schwerte, who pretended to be a distant relative of her dead husband.

Hans Schwerte claimed that he was born on October 3, 1910 in Hildesheim and then went to school in Königsberg, and later studied there and in Berlin and Vienna. He began to study in Hamburg and Erlangen for the second time and in 1948 received his second doctorate on the concept of time with Rilke . He became an assistant in Erlangen and published his first writings. In 1954 and in the following years, Schwerte published a four-volume book series, `` Gestalter Our Time '' with the first two volumes, Thinker and Deuter in Today's Europe, in the right-wing Oldenburg publishing house Gerhard Stalling , together with former SD colleagues, for example Wilhelm Spengler . They succeeded in winning a Jewish forced emigrant from 1933, the surgeon Rudolf Nissen , to work on volume 4 of this series for a chapter on Ferdinand Sauerbruch . Volume 1 was introduced by Arnold Bergstraesser , who was also forcibly released in 1937. Hans Rößner , also with Stalling, who later became the editor of Piper Verlag , who also looked after the emigrant Hannah Arendt , was Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) until 1945 .

In 1958, Schwerte qualified as a professor in the subject of modern German literary history with a work entitled Faust and the Faustian - A Chapter of German Ideology . It was published by Klett Verlag in 1962. In 1964 he became associate professor and head of the theater studies department of the German seminar in Erlangen and in 1965 professor for modern German literature at RWTH Aachen University .

In 1965 Schwerte also took part in the “Nuremberg Talks”, at the time an important institution of intellectual life and visited by prominent Nazi persecuted people such as Jean Améry , Fritz Stern and Fritz Bauer . This contributed to Schwert's left-wing liberal image.

From 1970 to 1973 Schwerte was rector in Aachen. He was considered left-liberal and sat in one of the front rows at the annual award ceremony for the Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen. From 1976 to 1981 he was in charge of maintaining and promoting relations between the universities of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium . He was partly responsible for the same Dutch universities as an SS man from 1940 to 1942.

In 1978 Schwerte retired and in 1983 was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st Class, for his services to academic relations with neighboring countries . Schwertes successor as professor for modern German literary history was Theo Buck .

Exposure (1992–1999)

In connection with a dissertation on the magazine Weltliteratur , once published by SS man Schneider , a professor at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Earl Jeffrey Richards, came across photos of Hans E. Schneider in 1992, on which he thought he recognized his former colleague Schwerte. His reports to colleagues, university management and the Ministry of Science were not followed up. Increased rumors about the former rector's Nazi past prompted students to conduct their own research in 1994, during which they came across the great biographical similarities of Schneider and Schwerte. The Hildesheim registry office confirmed to them on the basis of complete files that no Hans Schwerte was born there between 1909 and 1911. Before this research was completed, Dutch television journalists prepared reports on the true identity of the sword. The media disclosure came just before the end of April 1995 by self-disclosure under pressure from the university management. The discovery of the sword's previous life, which was surprising to the public, triggered a scandal.

Schwerte's title of professor and civil servant's pension were withdrawn. Because his habilitation was fraudulent, his civil servant salaries were also reclaimed as illegally acquired - Schwerte / Schneider was financially ruined. He had to return the Federal Cross of Merit in 1995, although the doctoral degree acquired in Königsberg was retained, as was the one acquired later under an incorrect name in Erlangen; there was no withdrawal. The 86-year-old Schwerte commented on his fake résumé with the words: "I have de-Nazified myself ."

Public prosecutor's investigations into his role during the occupation in the Netherlands were quickly stopped. Schneider died on December 18, 1999 in a retirement home in Bavaria.


  • Collective authors for nest pollution: confidentiality. A report. The Schneider case and other attempts to uncover National Socialist continuities in the history of science . 2nd Edition. Unrast, Münster 1996, ISBN 3-928300-47-4 .
  • Arno Gruen : obedience and ambition . In: ders .: The stranger in us. dtv, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-423-35161-6 , pp. 137-143.
  • Bettina Brandl-Risi: Science in the Shadow of National Socialism - The Scheider / Schwerte case and Erlangen's theater studies. In: Theater in Erlangen: Places - History (s) - Perspectives. Edited by Hans-Friedrich Bormann, Hans Dickel , Eckart Liebau, Clemens Risi (= Aesthetics and Education, Vol. 11), transcript, Bielefeld 2020, ISBN 978-3-8376-4960-4 , pp. 205–243.
  • Frank-Rutger Hausmann : "Even in war, the muses are not silent": the German Scientific Institutes in World War II . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-35357-X .
  • Ludwig Jäger : Changing sides. The Schneider / Schwerte case and the discretion of German studies . Fink, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-7705-3287-2 ( online ).
  • Ludwig Jäger:  Schneider, Hans Ernst. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 23, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3 , pp. 296-298 ( digitized version ).
  • Helmut König , Wolfgang Kuhlmann , Klaus Schwabe (eds.): Covered up past. The Schwerte case and the Nazi past of German universities. Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-42004-4 .
  • Claus Leggewie : From Schneider to Schwerte. The unusual life of a man who wanted to learn from history . Hanser, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-446-19491-6 .
  • Joachim Lerchenmüller, Gerd Simon : Change of masks. How SS-Hauptsturmführer Schneider became the FRG university rector Schwerte and other stories about the agility of German science in the 20th century . Society for Interdisciplinary Research, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-932613-02-3 .
  • Bernd-A. Rusinek : From Schneider to Schwerte: Anatomy of a Change. In: Wilfried Loth, Bernd-A. Rusinek (Hrsg.): Transformation policy: Nazi elites in West German post-war society. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-593-35994-4 , pp. 143-180.
  • Hans Schwerte, Wilhelm Spengler (ed.): Researchers and scientists in Europe today. 1: Physicists, ..., mathematicians (= designers of our time. Vol. 3). Stalling, Oldenburg 1958.

Opera libretto on the Schneider / Schwerte case

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl Müller: Four lives in one: Hans Schneider / Hans Schwerte. In: Aurora - magazine for culture, knowledge and society. April 1, 2007.
  2. Party card number 4 923 958, Spiegel 38/1998
  3. Frank-Rutger Hausmann: "Even in war the muses are not silent": the German Scientific Institutes in World War II . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-35357-X , p. 267.
  4. Frank-Rutger Hausmann: "Even in war the muses are not silent": the German Scientific Institutes in World War II. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-35357-X , p. 205.
  5. Malte Gasche: The "Germanic Science Mission" of the "Ahnenerbes" of the SS 1942-1945. Between the completion of the "national community" and the striving for "redemption". (= Studies on the Archeology of Europe, Vol. 20) Habelt, Bonn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7749-3880-9 , esp.p. 11 ff., 72 ff. And 168 ff.
  6. ^ Frank-Rutger Hausmann : Review in: IfB 18 (2010), online publication (PDF; 27 kB); to: Josef Thomik (author), Josef Schreier (ed.): National Socialism as a substitute religion: the magazines "Weltliteratur" and "Die Weltliteratur" (1935/1944) as carriers of National Socialist ideology; also a contribution to the Schneider / Schwerte affair , Aachen 2009 (p. 3/4 of the PDF).
  7. a b c Der Spiegel 38/1998
  8. see also www.zeitzeugen-portal.de
  9. Daniel Haufler: Communicative silence (quotation and others). In: taz . August 16, 2006.
  10. The millennial post or the Germanist.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Website of the Theater and Orchestra Heidelberg, March 2012.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.theaterheidelberg.de