Karl Helm (Medievalist)

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Karl Hermann Georg Helm (born May 19, 1871 in Karlsruhe , † September 9, 1960 in Marburg ) was a German German and Scandinavian medievalist , folklorist and religious scholar .

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Karl Helm studied German philology and history in Heidelberg , in Freiburg im Breisgau, among others with Hermann Paul and in Leipzig . In Heidelberg he received his doctorate under Wilhelm Braune in 1895 with a thesis on the rhythm of short rhyming pairs of the 16th century. In 1899 he completed his habilitation at the University of Giessen under Otto Behaghel with a thesis on the literature of the Teutonic Knights and received an extraordinary professorship there in 1904 . He moved to the University of Würzburg in 1919, and in 1920 to theJohann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, in 1921 at the Philipps University in Marburg as full professor of ancient German studies . Helm served there as rector in 1929/30 and continued to give lectures until 1958 after his retirement in 1936.

Throughout his life, Helm belonged to political national-conservative circles, only in 1919 was he a short-term member of the German Democratic Party for two months . Later he turned to the German National People's Party without ever becoming a member. He demonstrated his political stance in public through several statements by university lecturers on various topics from the imperial era to the National Socialist dictatorship. In 1915 he signed the so-called Seeberg address , and in 1919 a declaration on the Versailles peace negotiations . In the mid-twenties, a statement on school law issues followed. In 1932, Helm signed a call for elections from university lecturers in favor of Franz von Papen . After the " seizure of power ", as dean of the Philosophical Faculty in Marburg in November 1933, he was one of the nearly thousand signatories of the professors' commitment to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist state at German universities . Helm had been a member of the local sub-organization of the National Socialist cultural community in Marburg since 1933 , but was never a member of the NSDAP .

As a teacher, Helm's focus was on German literature from the early beginnings to the 16th century, in particular the Middle High German courtly poems Walther von der Vogelweides and Wolframs von Eschenbach as well as the epic and drama of the Old High and Middle High German phase. In the linguistic field, he taught Old High German and Middle High German grammar, Old Norse , Old Icelandic and especially Gothic grammar. In addition to the literary and linguistic lectures, the focus was on Germanic religious history and antiquity.

In addition to Otto Behaghel, Wilhelm Braune provided the essential scientific orientation for Karl Helm, so that he also continued his standard works, the Old High German Grammar , the Old High German Reader and the Gothic Grammar .

Helm's research extended to the Old and Middle High German language and literature on folklore and Germanic religious history and antiquity as well as classical philology . In 1901, research on folklore allowed Helm to found the "Hessian Association for Folklore"; Contributions appeared in the concise dictionary of German superstition and in the organ of the association. Helm was skeptical of the time-related “Germanentümelden”, pseudoscientific and subject-specific writings that later had Nazi ideological backgrounds and insisted on a differentiated methodical approach based on the sources.

In his research on the Germanic religious history, he worked out the developments from the earliest times with all the differences between the Germanic tribes and layers to their aftermath after the adoption of Christianity. He was able to show the early Germanic period on the basis of general religious studies on the basis of archaeological finds; an overall representation including the North Germanic conditions was no longer possible due to his old age. Helm's Old Germanic history of religion is still considered a standard work in specialist literature alongside that of the Dutchman Jan de Vries .

Important students of Helm were Ernst Albrecht Ebbinghaus , who took over the editorship of Braunes textbooks, Karl Bischoff , Hans Kuhn , Nechama Leibowitz , Eduard Neumann and Jost Trier .



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rector's speeches (HKM) .
  2. Wengel, p. 714.
  3. Maier, p. 339; Wagemann, p. 239
  4. Epilogue of the Old Germanic History of Religion , Vol. 2, Part 2.