Hermann Baumann (ethnologist)

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Hermann Baumann (born February 9, 1902 in Freiburg im Breisgau ; † June 30, 1972 in Munich ) was a German ethnologist , Africanist , cultural historian and National Socialist.


Baumann had already acquired basic knowledge from the anthropologist Eugen Fischer (1874–1967) and the ethnologist Ernst Carl Grosse (1862–1927) of the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg during his school days at grammar school , before he graduated from high school in 1920. He studied ethnology and African studies in Berlin and Leipzig, where he received his doctorate in 1925. From 1921 he worked as a volunteer , from 1925 he was employed in the Africa department of the Berlin Museum of Ethnology , headed by Alfred Schachtzabel . From 1934 to 1939 he was the custodian of the new Eurasian department there, which was set up less for scientific and more for political reasons and which fitted into the concept of " living space in the east " of the German Empire. From 1928 to 1941 Baumann was editor of the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie .

As a student of Leo Frobenius, Baumann was a representative of cultural diffusionism . He postulated the emergence of a world myth common to many peoples towards the end of the 4th millennium BC in the area between the Nile and the Indus ; this has spread in a modified form to China and parts of Africa.

Baumann had been a member of the NSDAP since 1932 and worked intensively on plans for colonial recaptures and expansions of Germany in Africa, which were never realized because of the course of the war. Baumann taught from 1939 to 1945 as a professor at the Institute for Ethnology at the University of Vienna (1939–1945), after his denazification application approved in May 1949, initially at the University of Mainz from 1951 to 1954 and from 1955 to 1972 as a professor at the Institute for Ethnology and African Studies of the University of Munich . Since 1965 he was a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences .

After his first research trip in 1930, Baumann put together the world's first systematic collection of material art and culture in northeastern Angola . In 1954 he discovered the rock carvings of Tchitundo-Hulo Mucai in southern Angola and cataloged them. During this trip he also acquired an ethnographic collection of over 1,000 objects, which he had kept in the Dundo Museum. For him, that was field research and empiricism of great importance, he looked with concern the increasing influence of pure theorists without reference to the real African world. In 1972 he returned to Dundo once more to edit and catalog his collection. Shortly after his return from Angola, Baumann died in Munich of complications from malaria .

One of the most comprehensive works in German-language African studies , the major work he edited and published posthumously, The peoples of Africa and their traditional cultures , bears his name. It emerged from the work Völkerkunde von Afrika: with special consideration of the colonial task , on which Diedrich Westermann and Richard Thurnwald also worked. Among other things, his studies on agriculture and grain crops as the oldest cultivated plants were groundbreaking .

Beatrix Heintze , Hermann Amborn and Klaus E. Müller are among his students. László Vajda was his assistant from 1957 to 1962.

First research trip (April – December 1930)

Baumann's first field research began on April 19, 1930 and followed on from the research by Alfred Schachtzabel. She led him to the Chokwe people in northeast Angola. The aim was to acquire a largely complete ethnographic collection for the Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin. He was accompanied by the ethnologist Heinrich Meinhard. After a three-week sea voyage, they reached Lobito , from where they took the Benguela Railway inland. At an English mission station near Luena , he worked hard to learn the Chokwe language . He went on marches in the surrounding Chokwe villages and to the Lunda , with up to 60-man strong carrier caravans. He specifically wanted to visit areas that were off the roads built by the Portuguese and could not be reached by car. He postulated: “An ethnologist may only use the car to cross large areas that are already completely under European influence. Like 30 and 60 years ago, he has the duty and the right to get to know the people of his studies marching from village to village. ”On November 18, 1930, he started his return journey from Angola. In 1375 he brought ethnographic objects with him to Berlin, in which agriculture, food preparation , handicrafts and dances of the Chokwe and Luimbi are documented. However, most of it was destroyed in World War II. According to the ethnologist Beatrix Heintze, he always tried to penetrate the intellectual and cultural world of Africans during his trip. His research results as well as their sensitive presentation testified to a relationship of trust and mutual respect.


Kalelwa mask of the Chokwe in Angola. Baumann Collection in the Ethnological Museum, Berlin. Acquired around 1938
  • The manhood celebrations among the Tsokwe (NE Angola; West Africa) and their neighbors . Reimer, Berlin 1932 ( Baessler archive . Contributions to ethnology. Volume 15, Issue 1)
  • Lunda: with farmers and hunters in inner Angola. Results of the Angola expedition of the Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. 249 pp., Berlin 1935, Würfel Verlag.
  • Creation and primeval times of man in the myth of the African peoples . Published with the support of the National Museums in Berlin (Baessler Foundation) and the International Institute for African Languages ​​and Cultures. Dietrich Reimer / Andrews & Steiner Verlag, Berlin 1936
  • with Richard Thurnwald and Diedrich Westermann: Ethnology of Africa. With special consideration of the colonial task. Essen publishing house, Essen / Berlin 1940.
  • Contribution to: Colonial ethnology, colonial language research, colonial race research. Reports on the workshop in Leipzig in January 1943 . Reimer / Andrews & Steiner, Berlin 1943
  • (Ed.): Koloniale Völkerkunde, I. In collaboration with the Colonial Science Department of the Reich Research Council in the German Research Association, ed. (Vienna Contributions to Cultural History and Linguistics, Volume 6). Horn: Ferd. Berger, 1944 (With contributions by W. Becker-Donner, Mattenklodt, TM Bettini, H. v. Sicard and H. Baumann)
  • Fritz Valjavec (Ed.): Historia Mundi. A handbook of world history in ten volumes. Founded by Fritz Kern. Volume 1: Early Humanity. By Santiago Alcobe y Noguer, Hermann Baumann, Renato Biasutti a. a. With a fold-out timetable. Francke, Bern 1952
  • The double sex. Ethnological studies on bisexuality in rite and myth. Reimer, Berlin 1955 (new edition 1986). With detailed chapters about the cultic gender change (or gender change), the exchange of male and female gender position by changing clothes or the direct exchange of "spiritual" qualities of the sexes, about bisexual ideas in u. a. the Dogon, Bambara, Kwotto, Zande and in the lower Congo.
  • African sculpture and sacred royalty. A social aspect of traditional African art. (= Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Philosophical-Historical Class. Meeting reports from 1968, issue 5). Beck, Munich 1969
  • The peoples of Africa and their traditional cultures . Steiner, Wiesbaden 1975–1979 ( Studies in Cultural Studies 34 and 35)
    • Part 1 General Part and Southern Africa
    • Part 2 East, West and North Africa
  • Preliminary report on new rock art finds in southern Angola . Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde, Vol. 6, H. 1 (Nov., 1954), pp. 41–45, Frobenius Institute.


  • Klaus E. Müller : Images of people in earlier societies. Ethnological studies on the relationship between man and nature. Commemorative writing for Hermann Baumann . Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1983.
  • Beatrix Heintze: Ethnographic drawings of the Lwimbi / Ngangela (Central Angola). From the Hermann Baumann estate . Wiesbaden, Steiner 1988 (special publications of the Frobenius Institute 5); ISBN 3-515-05170-8 .
  • Beatrix Heintze: German explorers in Angola , Frankfurt am Main, Lembek 2007, ISBN 978-3-87476-544-2 , pp. 130-131
  • Peter Linimayr: Viennese ethnology in National Socialism . Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1994, ISBN 978-3-631-46736-7 .
  • Jürgen Braun: A German career. The biography of the ethnologist Hermann Baumann (1902–1972) . Edition Anakon, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-929115-50-6 (Master's thesis, Munich ethnological treatises )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Institute for cultural and social anthropology of the University of Vienna: On the history of the institute .
  2. ^ Member entry by Hermann Baumann (with a link to an obituary) at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on January 7, 2017.
  3. ^ In the Land of Chokwe preussischer-kulturbesitz.de , April 1, 2019, accessed on October 12, 2019
  4. The mysterious rock carvings of Tchitundo-hulo buala.org , August 9, 2010, accessed October 9, 2019
  5. ^ The ethnographic collection from Southwest Angola in the Museum of Dundo, Angola (1954) koeppe.de , accessed on October 12, 2019
  6. Helmut Straube : Hermann Baumann February 9, 1902 to June 30, 1972. In: Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde , Vol. 18, 1972, pp. 1–15, here p. 1