Hermann Wolfgang Beyer

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Hermann Wolfgang Beyer (born September 12, 1898 in Annarode ; missing on December 25, 1942 near Stalingrad ) was a German Protestant theologian and Christian archaeologist .


Beyer was born in Annarode in the Harz Mountains in 1898, the son of a pastor. He was raised ecclesiastically and religiously in his parents' home. After moving, first to Posen and later to Elbing , he came into contact with extremely national ideas and ideas of revenge and culture warfare that had a strong influence on him. After taking the not exam , he joined the army in 1916. From 1919 Beyer studied Protestant theology at the University of Greifswald . He increasingly rejected the political system of the Weimar Republic , as his diary entries show. Via Berlin , Freiburg and Munich he came to Jena , where he pursued academic teaching activities. He tried to build a following as a student politician.

In May 1923, Hermann Wolfgang Beyer summa cum laude to the Dr. phil. PhD. His doctorate dealt with a thesis on all archaeologically known church buildings in northern Syria . In 1925 he was in Göttingen with this work, with a widened investigation based in church history-liturgical context habilitation .

After completing his doctorate, he became an assistant to Hans Lietzmann and moved to Berlin. He became a student of Karl Holl . End of 1925, Beyer was a religiously controversial work about religion Michelangelo to Lic. Theol. PhD. Together with Hans Lietzmann, Karl Holl and Emanuel Hirsch he received a private lectureship in Göttingen . On a trip to Italy on May 23, 1926 in Rome , he learned from a newspaper that he had received an appointment to the chair for church history and Christian archeology at the theological faculty in Greifswald. As Greifswald's youngest theology professor, he included the history of the territorial church in Pomerania for the first time in his research. In 1927 he founded the “Pomeranian Regional Group in the Luther Society ” and from 1928 published the papers for church history in Pomerania on their behalf .

In the years from 1926 to 1931, Beyer's training goal was to establish church awareness. He postulated: "The central concept is not a theological category, but the development of Germanness interpreted in terms of religious history". Beyer was part of the "Christian-German movement", which was a collection of monarchist - nationalist evangelical Christians in the Weimar Republic. He preached their way as "the way necessary for God and the fatherland's sake". As a historiographer of the Gustav-Adolf-Verein he was active with a high German national connection, whereby he always emphasized the “ national question ”. He contributed to Gerhard Kittel's theological dictionary on the NT . Here he tried to “differentiate as much as possible from Jewish parallels or comparative phenomena”, which are central to theology and church history.

In his essay "The Church in Struggle" in the journal Glaube und Volk , Beyer discussed his church theory: a conscious evangelical will formation, Protestantism as a "national religion of responsibility and political conscience", intellectual struggle with "the godlessness of Bolshevism " and the "militants." Wicked movement ”. The task of the state is to secure law and order and living space. The state is "a form of God's will", the people "a thought of God".

Until 1930 Beyer was still critical of National Socialism in Germany. From 1931 he was actively involved. Beyer saw the Nazi state as the “real state” to which he remained loyal until the end of his life. In the spring he joined the German Christian Faith Movement , in which he saw the decisive force for the upcoming reform of the Reich Church. He became a member of Ludwig Müller's advisory board . On November 10, 1933, he joined the SA . Beyer became Ludwig Müller's uniate church minister in the second Reich Church Cabinet, but had to resign as the last minister of the church in January 1934. Hanns Kerrl took over his duties as Reich Minister for Church Affairs .

Beyer was now looking for allies in the camp of the Confessing Church . Violently attacked by party organs in Greifswald for assigning the German religion of the German Faith Movement to Enlightenment liberalism, Beyer withdrew from church politics.

During this time he was called to Leipzig in 1936, where he taught church history together with Heinrich Bornkamm from 1936 to 1940 . As dean of the theological faculty, he was responsible for the plans to dismantle the faculty or to merge it with Jena or Halle. Since he saw himself as a "professor on revocation", he volunteered as a field chaplain for military service in World War II .

From April 11, 1940, Beyer took part in the war. He was first on the Western Front, later in Serbia and then in the German-Soviet War as a war pastor and witnessed the National Socialist mass crimes against the Jewish population and against psychiatric patients. Beyer took part in the offensive against Stalingrad and noted in his diary: "We are in a sinking army, I am staying with the doomed crowd". He has been missing since the afternoon of Christmas Day 1942; he probably died in unknown circumstances in the Donbogen.

Fonts (selection)

  • The Syrian church building , Berlin 1925.
  • Michelangelo's religion , Bonn 1926.
  • The ethics of the war guilt question. Lecture given at the rally of the Greifswald student body on June 28, 1927. Adler, Greifswald 1927. ( Digitized in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Digital Library)
  • (Ed.) Sheets for the Church History of Pomerania (1928–1940)
  • Confession and History. Speech at the celebration of the University of Greifswald on the 400th anniversary of the “Confessio Augustana”, June 25, 1930 (Greifswald University Speeches 26).
  • The history of the Gustav Adolf-Verein in its ecclesiastical and spiritual-historical context , Göttingen 1932.
  • In the struggle for people and church. Speeches and essays , Dresden 1934.
  • The Christian and the Sermon on the Mount according to Luther's interpretation , Munich 1934.
  • German theology. Monthly for the German Evangelical Church , Stuttgart 1935.
  • Luther and the Law, Munich 1935.
  • Housten Stewart Chamberlain and the inner renewal of Christianity , Berlin 1939.
  • Johannes Bugenhagen , Lüneburg ² 1947.
  • The Acts of the Apostles ( NTD 5), Göttingen 1949 (5th edition).


  • Wolfram Kinzig : Evangelical patrists and Christian archaeologists in the “Third Reich”. Three case studies: Hans Lietzmann, Hans von Soden, Hermann Wolfgang Beyer. In: Beat Näf (Hrsg.): Antiquity and Classical Studies in the Time of Fascism and National Socialism. Colloquium University of Zurich 14. – 17. October 1998. Mandelbachtal / Cambridge: edition Cicero 2001 ( Texts and Studies in the History of Humanities 1), pp. 535–629.
  • Irmfried Garbe: Art. Hermann Wolfgang Beyer . In: Stefan Heid, Martin Dennert (Hrsg.): Personal Lexicon for Christian Archeology . Researchers and personalities from the 16th to the 21st century. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7954-2620-0 , vol. 1, p. 178 f.
  • Irmfried Garbe: Theologian between the world wars - Hermann Wolfgang Beyer (1998–1942). Between the Times, Conservative Revolution, Wehrmacht chaplaincy (= Greifswald theological research. Volume 9, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-631-52277-0 .)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz:  Beyer, Hermann Wolfgang. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 571.
  • Dagmar Pöpping : The terrible god of Hermann Wolfgang Beyer. Attempts to create meaning by a church historian between catheter and mass grave , in: Manfred Gailus and Clemens Vollnhals (ed.): For a species-appropriate Christianity of action. Völkische theologians in the "Third Reich" , Göttingen 2016, pp. 261–277.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Christoph Weiling: The "Christian-German Movement". A study on conservative Protestantism in the Weimar Republic . 1st edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-525-55728-0 , p. 67 .
  2. ^ Dagmar Pöpping : War pastor on the Eastern Front. Evangelical and Catholic Wehrmacht Pastoral Care in the War of Extermination 1941–1945 , Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016, p. 165 f.