Heinrich Seidel

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Heinrich Seidel (Photo Löscher & Petsch around 1890)
Construction of the hall of the Anhalter Bahnhof (around 1878)
Heinrich Seidel's grave of honor at the Lichterfelde cemetery (2006)
Berlin memorial plaque Boothstrasse 30 (2006)
Typical Seidel binding (Collected Writings, Volume 20, 1907)
Cover illustration for Seidel's nature singer

Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Philipp Georg Eduard Seidel (born June 25, 1842 in Perlin , †  November 7, 1906 in Groß-Lichterfelde ) was a German engineer and writer .


Heinrich Seidel was born as the son of the Protestant theologian and pastor Heinrich Alexander Seidel (1811–1861) and his wife, the landlord's daughter Johanna Auguste, born. Römer (1823-1896), born in Perlin near Wittenburg and grew up as the first born of six siblings.

Seidel studied mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic in Hanover and since 1866 at the Berlin Business Academy and became an engineer. For the new offices of the Berlin-Potsdamer Bahn (1870–1872) and the Berlin-Anhaltische Bahn (1872–1880), he constructed railway systems such as the Yorckbrücken and designed the roof structure of the Anhalter Bahnhof with a span of 62.5 meters , which was unique in Europe at the time . In 1880 he gave up his "strange double life" , as he writes in the memoirs From Perlin to Berlin , and devoted himself exclusively to writing.

Seidel was a member of the Academic Association Hut , HÜTTE for short , with the name Frauenlob in the literary society Tunnel over the Spree and a founding member of the Mecklenburg Landsmannschaft Obotritia , the later Corps Obotritia Darmstadt. He described the beginnings of the Obotritia Landsmannschaft in his book From Perlin to Berlin as Leberecht Chicken. Under the pseudonym Johannes Köhnke he worked alongside Julius Stinde (pseudonym Theophil Ballheim), Johannes Trojan and others in the Allgemeine Deutsche Reimverein (ADR).

The famous saying "Nothing is too difficult for an engineer" was his motto and the first line of his 'engineer song' from 1871.

Heinrich Seidel had a special hobby: he used to bring plenty of seeds of strange plants with him from his travels in order to release them again in Berlin or other places (for example cymbal , a plantain , in Doberan ). Some shrub species have survived the change of location and are now part of the natural population of Berlin's flora .

In 1875 Seidel married Agnes Becker (1856–1917), the daughter of a Hamburg merchant. With her he had three sons. The oldest, Heinrich Wolfgang Seidel , who married his cousin, the poet Ina Seidel , later also became a well-known writer. The godfather of the youngest son Helmuth Seidel was Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke , whom Heinrich Seidel's great-grandfather had baptized on November 2, 1800 in Parchim. In Berlin, Seidel first lived in the senator's house. D. Dr. Karl Eggers (brother of Friedrich Eggers ) in the street Am Karlsbad 11 in Berlin-Tiergarten and from 1895 until his death from stomach cancer in 1906 in his own house in Boothstraße 29 in the Berlin villa colony of Lichterfelde. Seidel felt particularly at home there: “A place as beautiful as a poem”.

The honor grave Heinrich Seidel located on the West wall of the cemetery Lichterfelde in Moltkestrasse 42nd

Artistic creation

The most famous work of Heinrich Seidel is the book Leberecht Hühnchen , which consists of several episodes written between 1880 and 1893. The book is still available today and has found many readers for describing simple happiness. The title character Leberecht Chicken is a student friend of the first-person narrator who, like Seidel, is an engineer. Hühnchen lives in modest circumstances with his slightly disabled wife and two children, but he “knows the art of being happy”. Among other things, a "festive meal" is described in which all 15 harvested grapes are ceremoniously consumed. In a later episode, the narrator falls in love with Chicken's daughter Frieda. Further chapters describe the marriage of the two protagonists, the birth of their own children and the death of the narrator's daughter and Friedas. Leberecht chicken takes a back seat here, but its nature continues to serve as a leitmotif. Hühnchens Idyll is characterized by its independence and modesty. He seems to be internally armed against the dangers of modernity, which is symbolized by the moloch-like expansion of the city of Berlin. A marginal figure is Doctor Havelmüller , who is portrayed as a bizarre, good-natured scholar. Seidel used it to portray his friend Emil Jacobsen .

Less known is Seidel's novel Reinhard Flemming's Adventures on Water and Land , in which he processed the memories of his village youth in Perlin. His “mother tongue”, Low German , is also used more here than in other works.

Seidel's fairy tales and his autobiography Von Perlin nach Berlin were highly valued, especially by his fellow writers Stinde, Trojan, Stettenheim and others. He also wrote numerous poems, some of which are still included in anthologies today. His "rhyme tricks", in which he plays virtuously with chime, internal and shake rhymes, are a specialty. The Allgemeine Deutsche Reimverein , in which he worked under the poet's name Johannes Köhnke , gave him the inspiration for these poems .

In his short story In 1984 he describes the miraculous journey of Gottlieb Nothnagel into 1984 - a machine world of automatic restaurants and extraordinarily fast intercontinental transport connections, populated by people who wear highly individual clothing.

Works (selection)

First and single editions

  • The rose king. Hoffmann, Berlin 1871.
  • Leaves in the wind. Poems. Hoffmann, Berlin 1872.
  • Flying summer. Fantasy pieces. Hoffmann, Breslau 1873.
  • Humorous sketches. Fock, Leipzig 1875.
  • From home. Studies. Hoffmann, Breslau 1874.
  • Winter flies. New poems. Luckhardt, Berlin 1880.
  • Suburban stories. Luckhardt, Berlin 1880. ( Digitized from Collected Stories, Volume 2, 1902).
  • It's three sounds. Poem 1880. ( digitized version )
  • Leberecht Chicken, Jorinde and other stories. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1882. ( Digitized from Gesammelte Schriften, Volume 1, 1893)
  • News from Leberecht Chicken and other weirdos. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1888. ( Digitized from Gesammelte Schriften, Volume 3, 1893).
  • Nature singer. Illustrations by Hector Giacomelli . Elischer, Leipzig 1888.
  • The golden age. New stories from home. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1888. ( digitized version )
  • Goodbye chicken as a grandfather. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1890. ( Digitized from Collected Writings, Volume 8)
  • Strange stories. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1891. ( Digitized from Gesammelte Schriften, Volume 9, 1898).
  • From Perlin to Berlin. Life memories. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1894. (Collected writings, Volume 13). Revised new edition, 2006.
  • New carillon. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1894. (Collected Writings Volume 11) ( digitized version )
  • Kinkerlitzchen. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1895.
  • The poor people's music and other lectures. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1896.
  • The eyes of memory and other things. Liebeskind, Leipzig 1897. (Collected Writings, Volume 14)
  • Reinhard Flemming's adventures on water and on land. Cotta, Stuttgart 1900. (Collected Writings, Volume 15 and Volume 18–19) ( New digital edition 2017 )
  • Winter fairy tale. 2 volumes. Cotta, Stuttgart and Berlin 1901. (Collected writings, volumes 16 and 17)
  • Liver-fair chicken. Complete edition. 1901. New edition by Insel Verlag , ISBN 3-458-32486-0 . ( Digitized from 2nd edition, 1903, in the Internet Archive )

Illustrated children's books

  • Serious and joking. 20 black pictures by Heinrich Braun. Lipperheide, Berlin 1884.
  • Winter fairy tale. With 4 watercolors and 65 woodcuts by S. Friedrich, Carl Röhling, C. Gehrts and others. Flemming, Glogau 1885.
  • The seasons. A picture book. With chromolithographs by Carl Röhling. Meißner & Buch, Leipzig 1886.
  • All sorts of things from town and country. A fun picture book. With illustrations by Carl Röhling. Müller and Lohse, Dresden 1888.
  • The visit to Berlin. A picture book. With illustrations by Carl Röhling. Müller and Lohse, Dresden 1888.
  • The visit to the countryside. A picture book. With illustrations by Carl Röhling. Müller and Lohse, Dresden 1888.
  • The folk festival. A picture book. Müller and Lohse, Dresden 1888.
  • The inn on the country road. A picture book in seriousness and joke. With illustrations by Carl Röhling. Müller and Lohse, Dresden 1888.
  • Children's songs and stories. With illustrations by Carl Röhling. Union, Stuttgart 1903.

Collection and complete editions

  • Home stories. Complete edition. 1902
  • Reinhard Flemming's adventures on water and on land. 3 vols. 1900–1906. ( Digitized from Google books )
  • Collected Writings. 20 vols. 1889-1907
  • Narrative writings. 7 vols. 1899-1900
  • Collected Works. 5 vols. 1925


  • 18 letters and cards from Heinrich Seidel to Paul Warncke October 24, 1896 to July 26, 1902
  • 13 letters from Heinrich Seidel to various recipients from November 12, 1870 to January 9, 1905


  • Christian Ferber : The Seidels, story of a middle-class family 1811–1977. DVA, Stuttgart 1979. (Christian Ferber is the pseudonym of Georg Seidel (1919–1992), son of Heinrich Wolfgang Seidel and Ina Seidel and thus grandson of Heinrich Seidel).
  • Friedrich Mülder: Heinrich Seidel. ... How he was a poet and engineer ... A picture of life. Von Bockel, Hamburg 1997. (= series of publications Mecklenburger Profiles; 3) ISBN 3-928770-76-4 .
  • Heinrich Wolfgang Seidel: Memories of Heinrich Seidel . With unprinted letters, personal notes and communications from the estate. Cotta, Stuttgart / Berlin 1912.
  • Between Perlin and Berlin - the life, work and impact of the Mecklenburg engineer and writer Heinrich Seidel (1842–1906) . A tribute to his 155th birthday. Catalog for the exhibition of the same name, published by the Freundeskreis Heinrich Seidel Schwerin eV, Schwerin 1997.

Web links

Wikisource: Heinrich Seidel  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Heinrich Seidel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 100 years of Weinheim Senior Citizens' Convention , p. 141.Bochum, 1963
  2. ^ General German Kommersbuch, No. 150: Ingenieurlied
  3. Poet and understanding man in: VDI nachrichten , June 23, 2017, No. 25, p. 3
  4. ^ Heinrich Seidel: Engineer song in: The German poetry library
  5. See Seidel's Collected Writings , Volume 7, pp. 335ff.
  6. a b Fritz Reuter Literature Archive Berlin