Helmut Berding

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Helmut Berding (born September 21, 1930 in Quakenbrück ; † January 7, 2019 in Gießen ) was a German historian .

He taught from 1972 until his retirement in 1998 as a professor of modern history at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen . His research activities focused on studies of the origin of the modern world, the history and prehistory of anti-Semitism , problems of national and cultural identity, and the history of Franco-German relations.

Live and act

The son of a sales driver completed vocational training in the timber trade from 1945 to 1957. He worked as a commercial clerk in Quakenbrück, Münster and Hanover. In 1953 he went to Sweden as an intern for two years. Further stays abroad followed in Switzerland and France. From 1957 to 1959 he made up his Abitur at the Braunschweig College . From 1959 to 1961 he studied history, philosophy and Romance studies at the Georg-August University in Göttingen and from 1961 to 1967 history, philosophy and education at the University of Cologne . In 1967 Berding received his doctorate in Cologne under Theodor Schieder with a thesis on the conception of history and political theory by the French social philosopher Georges Sorel . At Schieder he was a research assistant from 1967 to 1970. From 1970 to 1972 he was a fellow of the German Research Foundation . In 1972 he completed his habilitation in Cologne with a topic on Napoleonic rule and social policy in the Kingdom of Westphalia from 1807 to 1813. As the successor to Lothar Gall , Berding taught from 1972 until his retirement in 1998 as professor of modern history at the Justus -Liebig University of Giessen . He declined an appointment to the distance university in Hagen . In 1985/86 he was visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He was also a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem .

Berding's research interests included the history of the 19th and 20th centuries, rationalism , myth , Germany and France during the French Revolution , Napoleon and the age of reforms, modern anti-Semitism and the emergence and history of the state of Hesse. In his habilitation on Napoleonic rule and social policy in the Kingdom of Westphalia , it is about "the attempt to show the connection between social development and social policy in the conquering state and in the conquered countries". With Jürgen Kocka and Hans-Ulrich Wehler , he founded the series " Critical Studies in History " in 1972 . From 1972 to 2011, together with Hans-Ulrich Wehler, was the editor of this prestigious scientific publication series. When he left, 200 volumes had appeared. Berding, together with Hans-Werner Hahn, is the author of the volume on the Napoleonic period and the pre- March period of the 2010 edition of “Gebhardt”, the basic manual on German history .

Another focus of my work was Hessian history. To this end, he published numerous papers and held management positions in several commissions for several years. Together with the Wiesbaden archivist Johann Zilien, he presented an edition on the state parliament debates from 1951 to 1970. The source edition creates the basis for a future biography of the Hessian Prime Minister Georg August Zinn , who has been in office for almost 19 years, and for further research on politics in the Hessian post-war era. He also presented an edition on the creation of the Hessian constitution from 1946.

Berding was a member of the Historical Commission for Hesse , the Historical Commission for Nassau , the Hessian Historical Commission and the Association of Historians in Germany . In 1993 he was awarded the Hedwig Burgheim Medal by the Giessen magistrate for his commitment to German-Jewish understanding and in 1999 the Federal Cross of Merit with ribbon . He was a member and from 1998 to 2004 chairman of the selection committee of the study support department of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung . In 1975 he founded the journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft , on which he also worked as the editor of several special issues until 1998.

He had been married since 1963. The marriage had two children. Berding died in Gießen in January 2019 at the age of 88.



  • with Hans-Werner Hahn: Reforms, Restoration and Revolution. 1806–1848 / 49 (= Gebhardt. Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte. Vol. 14). 10th, completely revised edition. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-608-60014-8 .
  • Enlightenment through history. Selected essays. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1990, ISBN 3-525-36225-0 .
  • Modern anti-Semitism in Germany (= Edition Suhrkamp. 1257 = NF 257). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-518-11257-0 .
  • Napoleonic rule and social policy in the Kingdom of Westphalia. 1807–1813 (= Critical Studies in History . Vol. 7). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1973, ISBN 3-525-35958-6 (At the same time: Cologne, University, habilitation paper, 1972), ( digitized version ).
  • Rationalism and Myth. History and political theory with Georges Sorel (= studies on the history of the nineteenth century. Vol. 2, ISSN  0081-7309 ). Oldenbourg, Munich et al. 1969, (at the same time: Cologne, university, dissertation, 1968).


  • with Klaus Eiler : Hessen - 60 years of democracy. Contributions to the state anniversary. In memoriam Wolf-Arno Kropat (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Nassau. Vol. 76). Historical Commission for Nassau, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-930221-17-9 .
  • with Klaus Heller and Winfried Speitkamp : War and Memory. Case studies on the 19th and 20th centuries (= forms of memory. Vol. 4). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2000, ISBN 3-525-35423-1 , digitized .
  • with Diethelm Klippel and Günther Lottes : Crime and deviant behavior. Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1999, ISBN 3-525-01381-7 , digitized .
  • National consciousness and collective identity (= studies on the development of collective consciousness in modern times. Vol. 2 = Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch Wissenschaft. 1154). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-518-28754-0 .
  • with Étienne François and Hans-Peter Ullmann : Germany and France in the Age of the French Revolution (= Edition Suhrkamp. 1521 = NF 521). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1989, ISBN 3-518-11521-9 .
  • The German Revolution of 1848/49. Klett, Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 3-12-490210-6 .
  • Private capital, public finances and reform policy in Germany during the Napoleonic period Scripta-Mercaturae, Ostfildern 1981, ISBN 3-922661-03-3 .
  • with Hans-Peter Ullmann: Germany between revolution and restoration (= Athenaeum Droste Taschenbücher Geschichte. 7240). Athenaeum, Königstein / Ts. 1981, ISBN 3-7610-7240-6 .
  • with Kurt Düwell , Lothar Gall , Wolfgang J. Mommsen , Hans-Ulrich Wehler : From the state of the Ancien Régime to the modern party state. Festschrift for Theodor Schieder on his 70th birthday. Oldenbourg, Munich et al. 1978, ISBN 3-486-48431-1 .
  • Bibliography on the theory of history (= work books on modern history. Vol. 4). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1977, ISBN 3-525-35480-0 .
  • with Theodor Schieder: Leopold von Ranke : From work and estate. Volume 2: About the Epochs of Modern History. Historical-critical edition. Oldenbourg, Munich et al. 1971, ISBN 3-486-47281-X .


  • Heinrich Brinkmann (Ed.): "And yet ..." Hedwig Burgheim Medal 1981–1993. Focus, Giessen 1993, ISBN 3-88349-407-0 , pp. 255-280.
  • Reineke Schmoll-Eisenwerth (Ed.): "Historiography as a literary event". Festschrift for the 80th birthday of Helmut Berding. Dietz, Bonn 2010, ISBN 978-3-8012-0408-2 .
  • Hans-Werner Hahn : Nekrolog Helmut Berding (1930-2019). In: Historical magazine . 310, 2020, pp. 409-414.
  • Winfried Speitkamp , Hans-Peter Ullmann (Ed.): Conflict and Reform. Festschrift for Helmut Berding. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1995, ISBN 3-525-36235-8 .
  • Hans-Peter Ullmann: Conflict and Reform. In memoriam Helmut Berding (1930–2019). In: History and Society . 45, 2019, pp. 151-156.

Web links


  1. See the review by Walter Euchner in: Historische Zeitschrift 215, 1972, p. 689 f.
  2. See the review by Werner Schubert in: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. German Department 92, 1975, pp. 341–343.
  3. Helmut Berding: Napoleonic rule and social policy in the Kingdom of Westphalia. 1807-1813. Göttingen 1973, p. 16.
  4. See the reviews by René Wiese in: Nassauische Annalen 122, 2011, pp. 430–431; Andreas Fahrmeir in: Historische Zeitschrift 291, 2010, pp. 821–823.
  5. See the review by Walter Mühlhausen in: Nassauische Annalen 126 (2015), pp. 472–474.