Kurd Lasswitz

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kurd Lasswitz
On two planets (original edition, Emil Felber, Weimar 1897)

Kurd Laßwitz (born April 20, 1848 in Breslau ; † October 17, 1910 in Gotha ; actually Carl Theodor Victor Kurd Laßwitz ) was a German writer . He also published under the pseudonym L. Velatus and is considered the founder of German-language science fiction . His novel On Two Planets from 1897 is one of the most important German science fiction novels and has been translated into numerous languages.


Kurd Laßwitz - son of the entrepreneur and politician Karl Wilhelm Laßwitz - studied mathematics and physics at the universities in Breslau and Berlin . During his studies in 1866 he became a member of the Arminia fraternity in Breslau . He also became a member of the Breslau Mathematical Society. In 1873 the doctorate "magna cum laude" followed with a thesis "on drops that hang on solid bodies and are subject to gravity". For the public disputation of his dissertation, Laßwitz submitted the thesis: "Science can and should be popularized." In the following year, he passed the state examination for higher education in the subjects of mathematics, physics, philosophy and geography.

In 1876 he moved to Gotha. There he took up a position as a high school teacher at the Ernestinum Gotha , where, among other things, Hans Dominik was his student.

He drew this picture of his teacher in his memories: “The teachers in Gotha were also for the most part types and originals. The most prominent one was probably our mathematician Kurd Laßwitz, who became known to the wider public especially through his utopian novel “On two planets”. He wrote witty technical fairy tales for my father's magazine “Zur Gute Zeiten”, but he was also a philosopher, a neo -Kantian , and wrote difficultly learned philosophical works. His life was shrouded in a certain tragedy. Originally he wanted to devote himself to a career as a university lecturer, but his liberal views made it impossible in Prussia and now ended up as a high school professor in Gotha. His jokes and bon mots went from mouth to mouth and could probably fill a stately volume. "

In 1884 he was appointed as a high school professor and in 1909 as a councilor . He owes the latter in particular to his work in the civic “Wednesday Society in Gotha”, which contributed to popular education with popular lectures from the fields of natural science, literature and philosophy. The Wednesday Society was founded in 1884, which was essentially based on the initiative of Laßwitz himself. In 1884 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina .

At the entrance, the Ernestinum grammar school commemorates its famous teachers Kurd Laßwitz and Adolf Schmidt with memorial plaques.

A colleague of von Laßwitz, who taught mathematics, English and French at the Ernestinum grammar school, was Adolf Schmidt, the geophysicist and pioneer of the international Esperanto language in Germany , who later became known and appreciated worldwide . The free and pacifist outlook as well as the common commitment in the Wednesday society - Schmidt gave at least 21 lectures here - connected the two. Schmidt, who, like Laßwitz, came from Breslau, later remembered his arrival in Gotha in 1884: “I was warmly welcomed by my dear club brother and compatriot Kurd Laßwitz. He took me to a cozy home that he had found for me, and then to the symposium at Walther am Theater. Here at one end of the long dining room ... I met the majority of my future comrades ... "

Memorial plaque for Kurd Laßwitz at the Ernestinum grammar school.

For Lasswitz, Schmidt's scientific and social commitment was so inspiring that one of the main characters in his novel "On Two Planets" - namely the scientist Karl Grunthe, who embodies the Kantian ideal of the free, mature personality, is modeled on Schmidt was. Rudolf Lasswitz, the author's son, had revealed it in 1909: “In the Mars novel 'On two planets', my father Kurd Laßwitz… in the person of Dr. Grunthe created an exact copy of Adolf Schmidt. "

Laßwitz corresponded with numerous great minds of his time, with Ludwig Anzengruber and Martin Buber . Bertha von Suttner tried unsuccessfully to win Kurd Laßwitz for her peace movement, since after reading his works she saw him as a kindred spirit.

Kurd Laßwitz was retired after a stroke in 1908 and died at the age of 62 in Gotha, where he was cremated in the Gotha crematorium . His urn is buried in the main cemetery in a grave of honor maintained by the city.


Laßwitz is considered one of the fathers of modern science fiction . He wrote books on physics, epistemology and Immanuel Kant and edited a critical edition by Gustav Theodor Fechner , the founder of psychophysics . Unlike Jules Verne and more so than Herbert George Wells , Kurd Laßwitz used the SF primarily for educational and critical purposes. His drafts for the future are bolder than the works of his two colleagues and contemporaries because they extend further into the future. Therefore, according to his own statement, he repeatedly comes up against the limits of “what can be explained with today's terms”. His novel On Two Planets (1897) with its over a thousand pages is one of the most important German science fiction novels. It has been translated into numerous languages ​​and reprinted several times. On two planets , an important inspiration for the space pioneer Eugen Sänger and for the celestial mechanic Karl Stumpff was the occasion to turn to astronomy in his youth. At the beginning of the 20th century, despite initially limited circulation, the work had some (still insufficiently researched) influence on other authors - for example those of Expressionism . An influence on Georg Heym is certain ; Arno Schmidt appreciated the novel. Laßwitz 'works did not become more widespread until the 1920s.

Wernher von Braun (1912–1977) confessed in a preface to the American edition of the novel: “I will never forget the curiosity and tension with which I devoured this novel in my youth. And I believe that his reading is of particular interest even today, when the eyes of electrons and humans have already collected their first direct impressions of the moon and our neighboring planets. It gives us today an idea of ​​the wealth of ideas at the end of the 19th century, on which the technical and scientific progress of the 20th century is based, and it gives us an idea of ​​the fascinating possibilities ... the generations of the 21st century to come after us. "

The socially critical texts by Laßwitz were largely forgotten after they had been banned by the National Socialists , whose views were incompatible with Laßwitz's humanist and pacifist.

One of Laßwitz's particular merits is the first use of the term remote school in his short essay "Die Fernschule" from 1899. Laßwitz was the first to use the term used to refer to distance learning companies.


  • On December 4, 1930, a street in Berlin-Johannisthal was named Laßwitzweg . The naming took place in an area with streets named after writers. During the time of National Socialism it was considered “undesirable” because of “radical liberal and democratic tendencies”. On May 23, 1938, Laßwitzweg was transferred to Draesekestrasse , which was named on May 16, 1938 .
  • A path was named after him in the western part of Gotha Castle Park.
  • On May 15, 1977, Hans-Emil Schuster discovered an asteroid in the inner main belt at the European Southern Observatory . It was named on April 7, 2005 as (46514) Lasswitz .
  • Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis : It has been awarded for German-language science fiction since 1980 based on the model of the American Nebula Award .
  • Kurd-Laßwitz-Scholarship of the Residenzstadt Gotha : The scholarship, which was founded in 2007 and endowed with 3000 euros, was awarded for the first time in 2008. German-speaking authors who have published at least one work in children's and young adult literature can apply once a year. Applicants must be ready to write a new manuscript during the six-month funding period and when staying in the furnished Kurd-Laßwitz apartment , which will appear as a scholarship edition.
  • A plaque at the Ernestinum grammar school commemorates his teacher.
  • In the entrance foyer of the Ernestinum Gymnasium there is a portrait bust on a plinth.


Laßwitz's estate is in the Gotha Research Library . It is made accessible through a printed directory which is available online.


  • 1871: To the zero point of being .
    • New edition: To the zero point of being and other narratives . Allitera, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-935284-82-9 .
  • 1874: Pictures from the future. Two stories from the 24th and 39th centuries .
    • Work edition: Pictures from the future . Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg (2008)
  • 1878: Atomistics and Criticism. A contribution to the epistemological foundation of physics. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig
  • 1878: nature and man .
    • Work edition: Nature and Man and other lectures and essays . Vol. II / 8. Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-940679-27-7 .
  • 1883: Kant's doctrine of the ideality of space and time in connection with his critique of knowledge presented in a generally understandable manner . Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, Berlin
    • Edition of the work: Kant's teaching of the ideality of space and time . Vol. II / 2. Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg (2008), ISBN 978-3-940679-34-5 .
  • 1890: History of Atomistics from the Middle Ages to Newton . Volume 1: The renewal of the corpuscular theory . Volume 2: The climax and decline of the corpuscular theory of the seventeenth century . Voss, Hamburg a. Leipzig
    • Reprint: History of Atomistics from the Middle Ages to Newton . Olms, Hildesheim, ISBN 3-487-00490-9 .
  • 1890: soap bubbles. Modern fairy tales . Voss, Hamburg ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
    • Work edition: soap bubbles. Modern fairy tales . Vol. I / 3. Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg (2008), ISBN 978-3-940679-24-6 .
  • 1896: Gustav Theodor Fechner . Frommanns, Stuttgart
    • Work edition: Gustav Theodor Fechner . Vol. II / 5. Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg (2008), ISBN 978-3-940679-31-4 .
  • 1897: On two planets . Novel. Felber, Weimar (1st volume as digitized and full text in the German Text Archive , 2nd volume as digitalized and full text in the German Text Archive )
    • New edition: On two planets . Preface by Wernher von Braun . Scheffler, Frankfurt 1969
  • 1900: realities. Contributions to understanding the world . Felber, Berlin
  • 1902: never and always. New fairy tales: dream crystals. Homchen - an animal tale from the upper chalk . Illustration by Heinrich Vogeler . Diederichs, Leipzig
  • 1904: The Universal Library , Wehrhahn Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-86525-601-0
    • First published in the introductory number of December 18, 1904 of the Ostdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, published in Breslau.
  • (1905): Aspira. Novel of a cloud . Elischer, Leipzig
  • (1909): Star dew. The plant from Neptune's moon .
    • Work edition: Star dew. The plant from Neptune's moon . Vol. I / 8. Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg (2008), ISBN 978-3-940679-15-4 .
  • 1981: dream crystals . Collection of all fantastic short stories. Moewig Verlag, Munich (1981), ISBN 3-8118-3535-1 .

A twenty-volume edition has been published as the Laßwitz collection since 2008 by the Dieter von Reeken publishing house, Lüneburg.


Biographies and Monographs
  • Bartholomäus Figatowski: Between Utopian Idea and Reality. Kurd Laßwitz and Stanislaw Lem as representatives of Central European science fiction . Fantastic support group in Wetzlar, Wetzlar 2004.
  • William B. Fischer: The empire strikes out. Kurd Lasswitz, Hans Dominik, and the development of German science fiction . Bowling Green State Univ. Popular Press, Bowling Green OH 1984, ISBN 0-87972-257-6 .
  • Hans Lindau: Kurd Laßwitz and his modern fairy tales . Schottlaender, Breslau 1903.
  • Rudi Schweikert : Kurd Laßwitz. An illustrated bibliography of his works . Dieter von Reeken, Lüneburg (2010), ISBN 978-3-940679-39-0 .
  • Rudi Schweikert: "Ko Bate!" Kurd Laßwitz 'novel On two planets in the work of Arno Schmidt; along with some comments on Schmidt's art of citation and his understanding of reality . Edition Text + Criticism, München 1977.
  • Rudi Schweikert: Germanistic misery. Against the pseudo-scientific approach. With the "victims" Arno Schmidt, Kurd Lasswitz and Karl May . Bangert et al. Metzler, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-924147-17-5 .
  • Heike Szukaj: What is felt and what is known. Kurd Lasswitz as a science popularizer 1848–1910 . Dissertation. Munster 1996.
  • Dietmar Wenzel: Kurd Lasswitz - teacher, philosopher, future dreamer. The ethical power of the technical . Corian-Verlag Wimmer, Meitingen 1987 (= Edition futurum; Vol. 10).
  • Helmut Roob: Utopia and Science. For the 150th birthday of the natural scientist and writer Kurd Laßwitz . With contributions from works by Kurd Laßwitz. Edited by Brigitte-Karola Liebs. Gotha 1998.
  • Andreas W. Daum : Science popularization in the 19th century. Civil culture, scientific education and the German public 1848–1914 . 2nd, supplementary edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2002, ISBN 978-3-486-56551-5 .
  • Franz Rottensteiner : Reread Laßwitz. In: Hannes Riffel, Jakob Schmidt (Ed.): Pandora. Science fiction and fantasy. Volume 4. Shayol Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-926126-82-5 , pp. 202-209.
  • Francoise Willmann: Kurd Lasswitz 'work of popularization. Science in fairy tales . In: Christine Maillard, Michael Titzmann (eds.): Literature and knowledge (sciences) 1890–1935 . Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2002, pp. 97-109.
  • Thomas Gaevert : Crooked thoughts from martians, people and ants - The fantastic worlds of Kurd Laßwitz. Production: Südwestrundfunk 2006; Length: 30 minutes; First broadcast: March 23, 2006 SWR2.

Web links

Wikisource: Kurd Laßwitz  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Kurd Laßwitz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Works online

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume II: Artists. Winter, Heidelberg 2018, ISBN 978-3-8253-6813-5 , pp. 439–442.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Lorey: The study of mathematics at the German universities since the beginning of the 19th century. Leipzig / Berlin 1916 (= Treatises on Mathematical Education in Germany, Vol. III, Book 9), p. 140.
  3. ^ Andreas W. Daum: Science popularization in the 19th century. Civil culture, scientific education and the German public 1848–1914 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2002, p. 459 .
  4. Hans Dominik: From the vice to the desk - memoirs . Verlag Scherl, Berlin 1943, p. 26.
  5. Helmut Roob, Peter Schmidt : Adolf Schmidt (1860-1944), handwritten estate of the geomagnetist and bibliography of his publications, indexed and made accessible by Helmut Roob and Peter Schmidt. Gotha Research Library, Gotha 1985, p. 61.
  6. ^ Anniversary edition of the "Ernestinum" 1936. Quoted in Helmut Roob: Utopie und Wissenschaft. Gotha 1998, p. 43.
  7. ^ Fritz Wollenberg: Adolf Schmidt - a pioneer of geophysics and Esperanto as a literary figure. In: The role of personalities in the history of planned languages ​​- Contributions to the 19th annual conference of the Society for Interlinguistics ev , 27. – 29. November 2009 in Berlin. Interlinguistic Information, Supplement 17. Sabine Fiedler (Ed.), Berlin 2010, pp. 133–162.
  8. ^ Rudolf Laßwitz: Adolf Schmidt, the geophysicist. In: Gothaer Memorial Book. 2. Volume and memories of the village and town of Dr. Gottlob Schneider, Bruno Volger Verlagbuchhandlung, Leipzig-Gohlis 1909, p. 124.
  9. Helmut Roob, Peter Schmidt : Adolf Schmidt (1860-1944), handwritten estate ... p. 11.
  10. ^ Kurd Laßwitz: Two planets. A novel abridged by Erich Laßwitz. Translated by Hans H. Rudnick. Afterword by Mark R. Hillegas. Carbondale, Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press 1971. Quoted in Helmut Roob: Utopia and Science. Gotha 1998, p. 46. The beginning of the preface by Wernher von Braun is on the front cover of the American edition from 1971: Wernher von Braun: "I shall never forget how I devoured this novel with curiosity and excitement as a young man. .. ". This is followed by a note that the text continues on the back cover page.
  11. On the origin of the term distance school .
  12. a b Laßwitzweg . In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein
  13. ^ Kurd Lasswitz (1848–1910)
  14. Asteroid Lasswitz
  15. ^ Kurd Laßwitz Prize
  16. kurd lasswitz scholarship. gotha.de
  17. online at db-thueringen.de