Johann Wilhelm Süvern

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Johann Wilhelm Süvern

Johann Wilhelm Süvern (born January 3, 1775 in Lemgo , † October 2, 1829 in Charlottenburg ) was a German teacher and politician . In the successor of Wilhelm von Humboldt, Süvern reformed Prussia's school legislation against considerable reactionary resistance and was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences .


Johann Wilhelm Süvern comes from a Protestant family of preachers. After studying in Jena , under the influence of Friedrich Schiller and Johann Gottlieb Fichte , and Halle (Saale) with Friedrich August Wolf , where he joined the Corps Guestphalia in 1796 , he came to the philological-pedagogical seminar of Friedrich Gedike in Berlin as a candidate for teaching . At the age of 25, Süvern took over the position of director of the high school in Thorn in 1800 . In 1803 he switched to the position of director of the grammar school in Elbing . There he became a member of the Elbingen Freemason Lodge "Constantia zur krönten Eintracht". In autumn, Süvern was appointed professor at the Albertus University in Königsberg , where he gave the promising lecture on the political history of Europe since Charlemagne in 1807/1808 after the collapse of Prussia . Because the court and the government of Prussia had fled to Königsberg after the lost battles of Jena and Auerstedt , the wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , Queen Luise noticed him.

In July 1808, Süvern moved to the interim supreme Prussian state administration and on January 1, 1809, became a State Councilor in the section for culture and public education (Department III of the new Ministry of the Interior), responsible for grammar schools. After the position of Freiherr von Stein was endangered in the autumn of 1808 , Süvern, along with Gerhard von Scharnhorst , August Neidhardt von Gneisenau , Georg Heinrich Ludwig Nicolovius , Theodor von Schön , Karl von Grolmann and the Provost Christian Gottlieb Röckner , joined in with a memorandum calling for non-ratification of the Paris treaty . In response to the verse of homage for vom Stein, published by Süvern in the Königsberger Zeitung on October 27 and November 3, 1808, Ernst Moritz Arndt was prompted to make the motto coined by the stone: the good foundation stone, the evil corner stone, the German gem . Fell from the stone in November 1808 as a minister and was the much more cameralistic thinking Karl August von Hardenberg replaced. Wilhelm von Humboldt's successor as Süvern's superior was the enlightened lawyer Friedrich von Schuckmann , whom von Stein had condemned as an archphilist . However, due to revision and little previous knowledge of Schuldingen, Süvern kept a free hand in his department.


In the winter of 1809, Süvern moved to Berlin. Süvern arranged in the edict for inspections of outgoing students to the universities , the Graduate new that could be circumvented until 1834 by means of entrance examinations by universities.

Together with the pastor and teacher Bernhard Christoph Ludwig Natorp , Süvern developed the general instruction on the constitution of schools , which contained principles for elementary schooling for a general school constitution. Based on Humboldt's ideas, the entire school system was to be composed of a structured course of education from elementary school and grammar school. The elementary schools should not degenerate into special schools for the lower and middle classes . The intention was to have a single large institution for national youth education, which in principle should be open to everyone.

As a reformer, Süvern also campaigned for efforts on the way to nation-building: as a captain, he led a division of the Landwehr. He dedicated the sales of his book, Memories of Some Strange Statements by Frederick the Great , to wounded Prussian soldiers.

The new school law remained planning

The resurgence of the reaction delayed the implementation of Süvern's reform efforts. In January 1816 , the provincial consistory was only presented with an excerpt from a planned school law revised by Süvern: the teaching constitution of grammar schools and city schools .

When the department for culture and public education was transformed into a ministry for culture, teaching and medicine on November 5, 1817, Karl vom Stein zum Altenstein , finance minister from 1808 to 1810, was responsible as the new minister . Altenstein was less a partisan of the stone than a supporter of the centrally thinking Hardenberg, but was reform-minded in matters of science. The commission, also convened on November 5, 1817, proposed a promemoria to Süvern , which contained general school regulations to be drafted and a provincial school regulations based on them .

The draft, which was only sent to the provinces by this Immediatkommission in 1819, met with considerable opposition: on the one hand, they did not agree with the Humboldt- Süvern connection between elementary school and grammar school; on the other hand, they were faced with the restrictions on rights in matters of school supervision, the selection of school books and questions from Simultaneous school on strong resistance.

After the murder of August von Kotzebue in March 1819, reactionary forces had become increasingly influential. Altenstein, the reform opponents Bishop Rulemann Friedrich Eylert , Ludolph von Beckedorff and the police chief Karl Albert von Kamptz were forced as employees.

Süvern's reform proposals were finally put to the record in 1826. From 1817 on, Süvern resigned from more and more functions (such as the grammar school department) and withdrew to work in the Academy of Sciences department . His suggestions and drafts for the general school plan remained a quarry-like basis for decisions by the ministry in the period that followed. Although the school law was not passed, it was the basis of the Prussian grammar school created by Johannes Schulze .

Süvern moved to Charlottenburg in 1829 , where he died on October 2, 1829 in his new apartment. He was buried in the Trinity Cemetery I in front of the Hallesches Tor in Berlin. The grave has not been preserved.


  • About Schiller's Wallenstein with regard to Greek tragedy. Bookstore of the Royal. Realschule, Berlin 1800, ( digitized ; Schiller answered von Süvern in a letter).
  • Memory of some strange utterances by Frederick the Great, written on August 17th, 1813. Hitzig, Berlin 1813, ( digitized ).


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Kösener Corpslisten 1960, 1167176