Iring fetcher

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Iring Fetscher (born March 4, 1922 in Marbach am Neckar , † July 19, 2014 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German political scientist . He gained international recognition in particular through his research on Karl Marx .


Iring Fetscher was the son of the physician Rainer Fetscher , who held a professorship for social hygiene in Dresden , but was dismissed from university service at the Dresden Pedagogical Institute (for elementary school teacher training) on February 26, 1934 , because he was an opponent of the National Socialists. His teaching activities with the title of professor at the General Department of the Technical University of Dresden ended in 1936.

Iring Fetscher attended primary school in Dresden from 1928 to 1932, then the König-Georg-Gymnasium in the Johannstadt district up to high school graduation and in 1940 an interpreting school. Then, at the age of 18, shortly after his admission to the NSDAP, he volunteered in Altenburg with a field artillery regiment as an officer candidate in the Wehrmacht ; According to his own admission, he later found it difficult to understand his initial enthusiasm for the officer profession. Fetscher was used in artillery regiments in the Netherlands, Belgium and the Soviet Union. He experienced the end of the war in Copenhagen.

After his release from British captivity , Fetscher first studied human medicine; then philosophy , German , Romance studies and history at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen . On September 11, 1947 Fetscherplatz took place in Beuron the conversion to the Catholic faith . In 1948 he became an assistant to Eduard Spranger , where he received his doctorate in 1950 with a thesis on Hegel's theory of man . He spent a lot of time in Paris and France for study purposes. In 1959 the habilitation followed with the writing of Rousseau's political philosophy .

Fetscher was initially a research assistant and lecturer at the universities of Tübingen (1949–1956) and Stuttgart (1957–1959). In 1963 he was appointed professor of political science and social philosophy at the University of Frankfurt, where he stayed until his retirement in 1987. His main research interests were political theory and the history of ideas. Various visiting professorships led him a. a. to the New School for Social Research in New York (1968/1969), to Tel Aviv (1972), to the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study Wassenaar (1972/1973), to the Institute for Advanced Study of the Australian National University in Canberra ( 1976) and to the Institute for European Studies at Harvard University (1977).

Fetscher was a member of the PEN Center Germany . At the age of 90, he decided that his literary estate would be handed over to the German Literature Archive in Marbach .

Fetscher was married to Elisabeth Fetscher, née Götte (1929-2010). They had four children together, including the journalist Caroline Fetscher .


Iring Fetscher found his later main topic - Marx and Marxism - through an article in Les Temps Modernes , in which the French historian of ideas Henri Arvon points to an "inexplicable gap in Marx research", as Fetscher reports in his first academic contribution: the clarification of the meaning of Max Stirner for the theoretical development of Karl Marx. Fetscher then did not devote himself to closing this gap, but became one of the leading western researchers of the teachings of Marx and the doctrines derived from them. Among his best-known writings are Von Marx zur Sovietideologie (1957) and the three-volume work Der Marxismus. His history in documents (1963–1968). In 1985, Fetscher and Herfried Münkler published the five-volume standard work Piper's Handbook of Political Ideas . In his book Survival Conditions of Mankind (1991) he reconstructs ecological positions in Marxian and critical theory and addresses the capitalist foundations of environmental destruction. Other focal points of his scientific work were studies on Rousseau , Hegel and Hobbes .

He achieved a high level of awareness in the Federal Republic of Germany through a frequent presence on television, where he commented on topics such as co-determination , the terrorism of the RAF and " the limits of growth ". Fetscher positioned himself "against conservatism and against communism". He often took part in the Frankfurt Römerberg Talks .

In the mid-1990s, Fetscher began to publicly deal more intensively with his National Socialist past and published in 1995 under the title Curiosity and Fear. Try to understand my life using a life story .

Political commitment

Fetscher joined the SPD in 1946 , advised Willy Brandt when he was a state politician in Berlin , worked alongside Erhard Eppler as a member of the SPD Fundamental Values ​​Commission and advised Federal Chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt . As a member of the commission set up by the social-liberal federal government to research the spiritual causes of terrorism , he and the social philosopher Günter Rohrmoser visited the imprisoned Horst Mahler . Rohrmoser and Fetscher wrote several books together.

Book about fairy tales

Through his “fairy tale confusion book” Who kissed Sleeping Beauty awake? (1972), which had a circulation of 250,000 by 1990, Fetscher became known to a wider public.



  • 1956: From Marx to Soviet ideology. 1956. 22 editions up to 1987, most recently under the title Von Marx zur Sowjetideologie. Presentation, criticism and documentation of Soviet, Yugoslav and Chinese Marxism. Diesterweg, Frankfurt 1987, ISBN 3-425-07363-X .
  • 1960: Rousseau's political philosophy. On the history of the democratic concept of freedom . Neuwied, Berlin: Luchterhand, 1960.
  • 1963: Marxism. His history in documents , 1963–1965, 3 vols. DNB 451254309
  • 1967: Karl Marx and Marxism. Munich: Piper, 1967.
  • 1972: Who kissed Sleeping Beauty awake? The fairy tale confusion book . Düsseldorf: Claassen, 1972. (German total edition over 250,000 copies ) ISBN 3-546-42723-8 .
  • 1976: rule and emancipation. On the philosophy of the bourgeoisie , Munich 1976
  • 1980: Conditions of human survival. On the dialectic of progress. Piper 1980, new edition: 1985, ISBN 3-492-00504-7 . With afterword 1990, Dietz , 1991.
  • 1981: Federal Minister of the Interior (ed.): Analyzes on terrorism . Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1981–1984, Volume 1: Iring Fetscher, Günter Rohrmoser (and colleagues): Ideologies and strategies. 1981.
  • 1983: work and play . Stuttgart: Reclam, 1983, ISBN 3-15-007979-9 . (In it the autobiographical introduction Reflections on my spiritual development , pp. 3–24)
  • 1983: as co-editor: Neoconservatives and New Rights. The attack against the welfare state and liberal democracy in the United States, Western Europe and the Federal Republic , Munich 1983
  • 1985: as co-editor: Piper's Handbook of Political Ideas . 5 volumes, Munich 1985ff.
  • 1995: curiosity and fear. Try to understand my life. Hamburg: Hoffmann and Campe, 1995, ISBN 3-455-11079-7 .
  • 1999: Tease me at Château Margaux . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . November 26, 1999, p. 41.
  • 1999: Marx. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 1999, ISBN 978-3-451-04728-2
  • 2002: Together with Alfred Schmidt (ed.): Emancipation as reconciliation. On Adorno's criticism of the “commodity exchange” society and prospects for transformation . Frankfurt am Main: New Critique Publishing House, 2002. ISBN 3-8015-0356-9
  • 2005: Passion for collecting and playful curiosity. A cosmopolitan family . In: Family Marx private, Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2005, pp. XIII-LIII ISBN 3-05-004118-8 .
  • 2006: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels: study edition. Considerations that led to the composition of the texts for the study edition in four volumes (1966) . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research. New episode. Special volume 5. The Marx-Engels editions of works in the USSR and GDR (1945–1968) . Edited by Carl-Erich Vollgraf, Richard Sperl and Rolf Hecker . Argument Verlag, Hamburg 2006, pp. 463-470 ISBN 3-88619-691-7 .
  • 2007: For a better society. Studies on socialism and social democracy . Edited by Clemens K. Stepina u. a. Vienna: Lehner, 2007, ISBN 3-901749-57-8 .
  • 2018: Marx. An introduction. suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-518-29855-8 .


  • Herfried Münkler u. a. (Ed.): The democratic nation state in the age of globalization. Guiding Political Ideas for the 21st Century. Festschrift for the 80th birthday of Iring Fetscher. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-05-003756-3 . (Contains pp. 253–272 a "comprehensive" bibliography of his writings that Fetscher created himself.)
  • Clemens Stepina (Ed.): Iring Fetscher. Between university and politics. Edition Art Science, Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-902157-83-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Reiner Pommerin : 175 years of TU Dresden. Volume 1: History of the TU Dresden 1828–2003. Edited on behalf of the Society of Friends and Supporters of the TU Dresden e. V. von Reiner Pommerin, Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 2003, ISBN 3-412-02303-5 , p. 185.
  2. Claus-Jürgen Göpfert: " Brown past - later shock ( Memento from July 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive )", Frankfurter Rundschau , June 10, 2011.
  3. ^ Peter Hahn (Ed.): Literature in Frankfurt. Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-610-08448-0 , p. 179.
  4. Claus-Jürgen Göpfert: Against the fetish of growth. (Obituary), July 20, 2014, accessed on July 21, 2014
  5. FAZ, October 2, 2010, p. 37.
  6. On Arvon and his related research cf. Bernd A. Laska: The Stirner researcher Henri Arvon . In: Jahrbuch ... No. 4, 2011, pp. 123-136.
  7. ^ Iring Fetscher: The importance of Max Stirner for the development of historical materialism. In: Journal for philosophical research , 6,3 (1952), pp. 425-426.
  8. Willi Winkler: weakness for Marx and fairy tales. Obituary in, July 20, 2014, accessed on July 21, 2014.
  9. Stefan Dornuf: Humanist in the post-war period., July 21, 2014, accessed on July 21, 2014.
  10. ^ Peter Lückemeier: A benevolent Frankfurter., July 21, 2014, accessed July 21, 2014
  11. Claus-Jürgen Göpfert: Against the fetish of growth. (Obituary), July 20, 2014, accessed on July 21, 2014
  12. Berthold Seewald: How one can be a professor and public educator. (Acknowledgment on the 80th birthday), March 4, 2002, accessed on July 21, 2014
  14. ^ Fetscher 1980 (conditions of survival) - from 1985 with the subtitle: Can progress still be saved?