Karl Simrock

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Karl Joseph Simrock Signature Karl Simrock.JPG
Karl Simrock's tomb in the old cemetery in Bonn
House Parzival in Selhof Menzenberg

Karl Joseph Simrock (born August 28, 1802 in Bonn ; † July 18, 1876 ​​there ) was a German poet and philologist .


He was born in Bonn as the 13th and last child of the musician and music publisher Nikolaus Simrock and his wife Francisca Ottilia Blaschek. French was spoken in his parents' house by order of his Francophile father, who used the French first name Nicolas to refer to himself. However, Karl felt himself to be German and read German epics and fairy tales enthusiastically even during his school days. He attended the French-language Lycée in Bonn and was enthusiastic about the then revived Middle High German epics and fairy tale literature. In 1818 he enrolled at the age of sixteen to study law at the newly founded Prussian-Rhenish University in Bonn. There he also heard history from Ernst Moritz Arndt and German language and literature from August Wilhelm Schlegel . Here he befriended, among others, August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798–1874). In 1818 he became a member of the old Bonn fraternity / general public . In 1822 he continued his law studies in Berlin, where he also devoted himself to old German literature and attended old Germanic lectures given by Friedrich von der Hagen (1780–1856) and Carl Lachmann (1793–1851). He completed it successfully in 1826, chose a career as a judge in Berlin and worked (since 1824) at the Royal Court of Justice.

As early as 1823 he had become a member of the Berlin Wednesday Society and made friends with Adelbert von Chamisso and Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué (1777–1843) , among others . It was then that he developed his pen friendship with Jacob Grimm (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859). In 1827 he brought out what would become the most successful New High German translation of the Nibelungenlied and began to publish as a poet and ballad poet . In 1830 he was dismissed from civil service because of a poem in praise of the French July Revolution . After the father's death in 1832, he and his 7 siblings had tried in vain to auction off their large paternal estate. In the minutes of a meeting of the heirs with the Royal Prussian notary Carl Eilender it was said, “The comparents explain to the notary that he should divide the inheritance by raffle.” Karl drew lot 5: house no. 392 in Maargasse, plus around thirty Land, some of which is considerably large, in the communities of Poppelsdorf, Kessenich, Endenich, Lengsdorf, Dottendorf and Bonn. In 1834 he received his doctorate in philosophy . He worked as a translator (among others by Hartmann von Aue , Kudrun and Shakespeare ), editor and as a successful, also patriotic writer, from 1832 back in Bonn.

There he married Gertrude Ostler in 1834. The marriage had four children: Agnes (1835–1904), Dorothea (1836–1911), Caspar (1842–1897) and Anna Maria (1846–1905). The eldest daughter Agnes remained single and lived in Menzenberg. The daughter Dorothea was later incapacitated and placed in a sanatorium. The son became a doctor in Frankfurt, married Susanne Pauline Andreae and took over the practice of his father-in-law Hermann Victor Andreae . His daughter Anna Maria married August Reifferscheid in 1869 and became the mother of Heinrich and Karl Reifferscheid . In the same year, he bought the Neunkirchensche winery on the Menzenberg (lot 7) from his sister Elise, who lived in Paris, for 2367 thalers. That was exactly the same price that had already been rejected in the previous auction attempt. Karl wanted to buy this winery because he had already received permission to live there in 1832. After the purchase, he sold six seventh of the vineyards and invested the proceeds in the construction of "House Parzival".

His late father's legacy, including wineries in Menzenberg bei Honnef (now the city of Bad Honnef), allowed him to lead the life of a wealthy private scholar. His also wealthy wife Gertrud Antoinette Ostler had a. a. A house at Acherstraße 13 in Bonn was brought into the marriage, where the family lived from 1834. In 1840 the construction of the famous "Haus Parzival" in Menzenberg was completed, where Simrock from then on spent the summer months and received guests from near and far. His grandson, the painter Heinrich Reifferscheid, was inspired by the Menzenberg, the Parzival house and the people living in the area for his first works.

At the time of his family founding, he began his big, decades-long project, a world of German legends about Dietrich von Bern , Wieland the blacksmith and others. v. a. encompassing verse epos composed of numerous individual songs in the Nibelungen strophe , the “Das Amelungenlied ”, which was to make him a widely read author in the 19th century. He edited the old German folk books, collections of fairy tales and proverbs and numerous other works from a folk history "primeval times". From 1841 he expressed interest in a new professorship for German literature to be set up in Bonn, with the support of the curator Philipp Joseph von Rehfues (1775-1843). Despite his friendship z. B. With Ferdinand Freiligrath he took no active part in the 1848 revolution. In 1850 he became an associate professor and in 1853 a full professor for the history of the German language and literature at Bonn University who was famous in his field . From 1853 to 1855 his long authoritative "Handbook of German Mythology including the Nordic" was published. From 1856 to 1857 he was dean of the philosophy faculty. He died on July 18, 1876 and was laid to rest in the old cemetery in Bonn.

Karl Simrock established his reputation with the translation of the Nibelungenlied in 1827 as well as the transfer and publication of the poems by Walther von der Vogelweide (1833). Simrock's most popular work was The German Folk Books , which reached 55 editions between 1839 and 1867. In his “German folk songs” he relied on his own research into local songs, for example the song keeper Heinemöhn , whom he called the “Menzenberger Nachtigall”. In addition to German and Old Norse literature, he also turned to Shakespeare , whose sources he researched in novels , fairy tales and sagas . He also translated some of his poems and plays into German.

A 12-volume edition of his selected works was published in Leipzig from 1907, edited by Gotthold Klee. His books have been saying up in the 1940s to - in these vintages of the educated middle class always voraussetzbaren - Youth reading ; after 1945 without revival.

The Menzenberg

From 1837 Karl had built the Parzival house on the foundations of the old Minoriten winery, which he had bought from his sister Elise in 1834. He later sold six seventh of the vineyards and put the proceeds into the "House Parzival". On the mighty, five-century-old vaulted cellar of the Minoriten winery, he built a two-storey, late-classicist house, in which the old wine press building was incorporated. In 1840 he and his family moved into the Parzival house. The lettering above the entrance attests to it. Underneath the signature: "KS 1840 GO" for Karl Simrock and Gertrud Ostler. He probably borrowed the name “Haus Parzival” from the verse epic by Wolfram von Eschenbach (1168–1220), who “haunted” Simrock's day-to-day work at the time.

He was convinced that the Dietrichsage had taken place in the Rhineland and was looking for evidence of it. In the vicinity of his country house on the Menzenberg he had found parcels such as Dederichsloch or Dederichskaule, Eckenhagen, Eckendorf, Eckenrod, the Geckental. He interpreted the latter as Eckental and the Faselskaule was in his opinion the Fasoldskaule. From everything he concluded: Riese Ecke was killed by Dietrich am Menzenberg, in front of Simrock's front door, so to speak. The Menzenberg, his "Haus Parzival" and the mystical stories around it fascinated him so much that in 1852 he even turned down the offer of the Bavarian King Max Joseph to get a pension in Munich as a poet in an independent position or a professorship for 1500 guilders to take over in the year. This although he received no remuneration for his Bonn professorship and full professor. It was only when he held the first Germanic chair in Bonn that he was paid a modest salary of 400 thalers a year.

On the Menzenberg he received many well-known guests: Wilhelm Grimm , Jakob Grimm , Alexander von Humboldt , Ferdinand Freiligrath , Ludwig Uhland , Justinus Kerner , Heinrich Heine , August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben , Adelbert von Chamisso , Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué and many others more. And his grandson Heinrich Reifferscheid , who often stayed there, was also inspired by the stories about the Menzenberg in his paintings.

Menzenberger corner blood

A good red Muscat grew on the Wingert that remained around the Parzival house and was pressed by Simrock. True to his conviction that the giant corner had been slain by Dietrich von Bern on the Menzenberg, he called his red wine "Menzenberger Eckenblut".

He had his friend Carl Schlickum design the bottle label with a drawing of "Haus Parzival" and the vineyard. He added a joke poem to the label with his special sense of humor:

Hero Dietrich beat Herr Ecken
, the bold man, to death.
Now let's taste
the blood that escaped him.

The earth has drunk it.
The vine sucks it in.
Finally it sunk into the barrel.
It was a fine wine.

And let us drink the wine
So give the hero's blood
To the bold son of the Rhine
first true heroism

We fear no opponent;
On this earth star there is
also no thinker,
no more Dietrich from Bern.


The German Folk Books (1845)


The Simrock monument in the Bonn court garden

Influential citizens of the city of Bonn called for donations for a Simrock memorial 20 years after his death. Just one year later, the Bonn sculptor Albert Küppers presented the first model sketches for a monument to the famous poet. In the spring of 1900 the results of the collection were published; Due to the great willingness to donate around 23,000 marks were collected, so that Küppers could be commissioned with the execution of the monument. The contract stipulated that the memorial would have to be completed by Simrock's 100th birthday. At the ceremonial unveiling of the monument on July 15, 1903, Karl Simrock was praised primarily as the translator of the Nibelungenlied , but also as a patriot. The memorial was cleared as early as 1940; since then it has been in the building yard of the city of Bonn.

Here as well as in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Oberhausen there is a Simrockstraße , in Erkrath and Bad Honnef there is a Karl-Simrock-Straße .


  • Directory of the professor Dr. Karl Simrock's posthumous library. Bonn 1876 ( digitized ).
  • Hugo Moser: Karl Simrock. University teacher and poet. Germanist and innovator of “folk poetry” and older “national literature”. A piece of literary, educational and scientific history of the 19th century . Bonn: Ludwig Röhrscheid Verlag 1976
  • Josef Niesen : Bonn Personal Lexicon. 3rd, improved and enlarged edition. Bouvier, Bonn 2011, ISBN 978-3-416-03352-7 .
  • "To the Rhine, to the Rhine ..." The picturesque and romantic Rhineland in documents, literature and music. Dedicated to Karl Simrock (1802–1876) on the occasion of his 200th birthday. Edited by Ingrid Bodsch in collaboration with Otto Biba and Ingrid Fuchs, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-933070-27-9 .
  • The Simrock House. Contributions to the history of a culture-bearing family in the Rhineland. Revised and greatly expanded new edition of the book "Das Haus Simrock" by Walther Ottendorff-Simrock (1954), ed. by Ingrid Bodsch , u. a. with contribution from Norbert Schloßmacher : Karl Simrock and his hometown Bonn. Present and former Karl Simrock locations in Bonn: On the history of the houses at Bonngasse 35 and Acherstraße 13 as well as on the sites of Karl Simrock memorial. Bonn 2003, ISBN 3-931878-16-3 .
  • Edward Schröder:  Simrock, Karl . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 34, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1892, pp. 382-385.
  • Johannes Barth:  Simrock, Karl Joseph. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 24, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-428-11205-0 , pp. 447-449 ( digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Karl Joseph Simrock  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Karl Joseph Simrock  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume II: Artists. Winter, Heidelberg 2018, ISBN 978-3-8253-6813-5 , pp. 641–642.