Ludwig Pfau

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Ludwig Pfau

Karl Ludwig Pfau (born August 25, 1821 in Heilbronn , † April 12, 1894 in Stuttgart ) was a German writer , publicist and revolutionary . At the time of the March Revolution in 1848 he was the editor of the satirical magazine Der Eulenspiegeland on the board of the Württemberg state committee. Because of his political activities, he had to flee abroad after the failure of the March Revolution. From 1852 he lived in Paris, where he made a name for himself as a translator and art critic. After returning to Württemberg in 1863 as a result of an amnesty, he was one of the founders of the People's Party , to which he gave a journalistic voice in the observer . In later years Pfau came into conflict with the Württemberg state due to his political attitudes and had to serve several prison terms.


Teenage years

Ludwig Pfau was born as the son of the Heilbronn gardener Philipp Pfau , who is said to have owned greenhouses as the only one in Heilbronn . After attending the Karlsgymnasium in Heilbronn , he was supposed to study theology in Tübingen, following a request from his parents, but then decided to join his parents' nursery after finishing high school. In 1839 he switched to a nursery in Corbeilles near Paris as a volunteer , the owner of which was a business friend of Pfau's father. The father then arranged another job in Liège , which Ludwig Pfau no longer took up, as the gardening profession began to bore him and he rather turned to Paris , where he became interested in art and literature. He earned his living with portrait drawings and coloring botanical books after his parents had stopped their donations due to his lifestyle.

In 1841 he returned to Heilbronn due to conscription and worked again in his parents' company. At that time he met Minna Widmann, daughter of the factory owner Johann Jakob Widmann , to whom he dedicated numerous poems and songs. Pfau was unable to have a love affair with Minna: the Widmann parents sent Minna to a boarding school in Switzerland, while Pfau began studying philosophy in Tübingen . During his studies in 1844 he became a member of the fraternity of Walhalla Tübingen . Professor Friedrich Theodor Vischer introduced Hegel to Pfau there . Pfau and Vischer initially had a close relationship, but over time they became estranged due to their different political views. Pfau also gave himself up to the bohemian and often stayed with Hermann Kurz in Karlsruhe , where he did writing assignments. In 1847 he wrote to Justinus Kerner about his drive : "... we have to get on our feet if we want to benefit a little from the stranger."

March revolutionary

In 1847 Pfau enrolled at the University of Heidelberg, where he heard lectures by Hermann Hettner and Jakob Moleschott . Through Hermann Kurz, Pfau came into contact with the Baden opposition in Heidelberg, whose meetings he regularly attended and whose Fliegende Blätter he co-authored. Pfau's first volume of poetry was published during the period of politicization.

At the end of 1847 he moved to Stuttgart. Together with Hermann Kurz, he had discussed the plan to publish a political- satirical cartoon sheet. As intended , Der Eulenspiegel appeared for the first time in January 1848 . The Eulenspiegel became an important organ of the March Revolution . The Württemberg regional committee elected Pfau as a board member. The state committee was able to achieve some political successes , not least thanks to the journalistic backing of Eulenspiegel , including the adoption of the basic rights and the state constitution by the Württemberg king. However, the Württemberg state immediately took action against the state committee and its members. After being charged with high treason , Pfau first fled to Heidelberg in Baden. There he was ordered to invade northern Württemberg with the Baden and Württemberg vigilante groups from Wimpfen . Pfau met his father for the last time in Wimpfen, who had to sell his business due to economic difficulties and emigrated to North America, where he died impoverished in 1852. A little later, Pfau's childhood sweetheart Minna Widmann suffered the same fate.

When the failure of the March Revolution became apparent, Pfau fled to Switzerland with the Swabian Legion . There he initially stayed in Zurich , but often changed his place of residence due to the residence permit, which was only valid for one month. From Switzerland in 1850 he wrote the sonnets for the German people for the year 1850 , in which he swore vengeance on the reactionary German authorities. On September 25, 1850, he was sentenced in absentia by the Esslingen jury court for insulting the Baden state government in the issue of Eulenspiegel of June 23, 1849, to three months imprisonment , a fine of 25  florins and assuming the legal costs .

Exile in France

At the beginning of 1852, the government council of the canton of Bern decided, at the request of the police department , to expel Ludwig Pfau along with five other people (including Wilhelm Loewe ) for "interfering in the political situation in Bern ". He then fled to France. In Paris he initially hired himself out in a gutta-percha factory before resuming his art studies, which he had broken off in 1841. He later became an editorial assistant at Le Temps and from the late 1850s he also worked as a translator. The works he has translated include writings by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Claude Tillier . Pfau's translation of Tillier's Mon Uncle Benjamin contributed significantly to Tillier's rediscovery.

Pfau's poems were reprinted in 1858 and met with great interest, in 1859 his Schillerlied was set to music by Giacomo Meyerbeer at the German exile celebration for Schiller's 100th birthday in Paris . But while Pfau's reputation as a poet was growing, he had already turned away from poetry and turned to journalism.

While in exile in Paris, Pfau was in close contact with Heinrich Heine , Ludwig Bamberger and Moritz Hartmann . Together with Hartmann, Pfau translated a number of Breton folk songs. The friends of exile brought Pfau closer to aesthetic art criticism, to which Pfau increasingly devoted himself from around 1860, including. with a detailed study of Belgian painting.

Publicist for the People's Party

After an amnesty he was able to return to Württemberg in 1863 , where he immediately got in touch with his former companions Julius Haußmann and Karl Mayer , with whom he founded the People's Party in 1864 . In Stuttgart he continued to publish for the observer , the press organ of the People's Party. Pfau campaigned for a unification of Germany , but this should not go hand in hand with a predominance of Prussia . During the German-Danish War , in April 1864, he spoke out in favor of ending Prussia's state existence:

“Without the dissolution of Prussia into its tribes, the formation of a united and free Germany is an absolute impossibility. Ceterum censeo Borussiam esse delendam. "

Pfau's election calls and articles of principle in the Observer contributed significantly to the electoral success of the People's Party in 1868/69. For French and German newspapers he also wrote again on art criticism, for which he often stayed in Paris and from there, inter alia. reported for the Frankfurter Zeitung . There he was expelled when the Franco-German War broke out in 1870/71. In his publications, Pfau was a sharp opponent of Bismarck's war policy.

Because of his political engagement in the form of a polemic directed against the Prussian government in the Frankfurter Zeitung , Pfau again came into conflict with the state power in 1879 and had to go to the Heilbronn cell prison for three months , where the prison director Karl von Köstlin stood up for him, so that one Pfau set up a comfortable cell with upholstered furniture and issued various other custody conditions for him.

In the early 1880s, Pfau had to face another four-week prison sentence in Stuttgart because of his pro-France attitude on the question of the official language in the Alsace-Lorraine regional committee. Upon his release from prison, Pfau met with a great international wave of sympathy.

On his 70th birthday, the state committee of the DVP wrote to him:

"Dear friend! In the name of the democracy of our country, in whose ranks you fought for half a century as one of the most loyal, unselfish and purposeful leaders, in the name of the Swabian People's Party, whose vigorous organization you helped establish 25 years ago and which is proud to have joined Having preserved the stamp of your spirit, we extend our warmest congratulations to you, the deserving member of the State Committee, on the beautiful celebration of your 70th birthday, and our most sincere thanks for the important and fruitful support that the cause of political and human progress through yours has experienced powerful cooperation and is still experiencing it. "

- Article in the Neue Freie Presse on August 29, 1891

End of life

In its final years, peacock suffered from severe health problems as its eyesight and hearing deteriorated. He spent most of the time withdrawn in Stuttgart, and if he seldom socialized, he was mostly silent and withdrawn, which earned him the nickname of the silent . On April 12, 1894, he died at his desk in Stuttgart as a result of a stroke that he had suffered at his desk five days earlier .

On April 15th, a funeral service took place at the Prague cemetery in Stuttgart with great sympathy , at which Conrad Haussmann gave the funeral speech. Then his friends gathered in the Mozart Hall of the Liederhalle ; Here Mayor Emil von Rümelin gave a speech: “We have just buried one of the last Swabians with a big litter. Let us dedicate a quiet glass to him who has fostered mental blocks that are left to us, the epigones in the field of public life as well as in art and science, even if our weak powers are hardly sufficient. Let us consecrate a still glass to him, the noblest Swabian of the modern age! ”The following day the cremation took place in the Heidelberg crematorium , at which relatives and friends were present, including his sister. The urn made of black marble, which had been kept in the house of the merchant Ostertag since the transfer from Heidelberg, was buried on April 29, 1894 in Pfau's birth town Heilbronn, of which he was an honorary citizen .


Ludwig Pfau achieved importance above all with his political poetry. His best-known poems include Mr. Biedermeier, The German Refugees, On March 18, 1848, Lied vom Gottesgnadenfritz, Badisches Wiegenlied, and 1849. He has also appeared in art-critical writings. Theodor Heuss described his correspondence from Paris, published in various newspapers, as the liveliest literary thing he has written .

"Magnis superbus - parvis modestus", which means something like "proud of the big - humble towards the little", was Pfau's motto, which was engraved in his pocket watch and appeared as the title vignette on some of his books, arranged in a circle around a peacock spread tail feathers.

In 1889 Pfau got involved in the project to erect the Kaiser Wilhelm I monument in Heilbronn. The sculptor Wilhelm von Rümann was commissioned with the design, who ultimately designed the monument according to Pfau's ideas. The monument was ceremoniously unveiled on Sedan Day 1893.

Awards and honors


  • Poems , 1847
  • Voices of the time. Thirty-four poems old and new , 1848
  • Sonnets for the German people to the year 1850 , 1851
  • A contribution to the solution of the German question , 1864
  • Free studies , 1866
  • Decorative samples from the Vienna World Exhibition , 1874
  • The Prussian Regiment , 1877
  • Arts and Crafts , 1877
  • Theocratic Churchism and Autocratic Justice. A blasphemy trial before the jury in Esslingen , 1877
  • Historical and philosophical considerations by a Reich voter , 1881
  • Selected works , 1884ff
  • On the characteristics of Mr. Lübke , 1884
  • The press process of the “State Gazette for Württemberg” against Ludwig Pfau , 1885
  • Political and polemical. From the posthumous writings of Ludwig Pfau , ed. v. Ernst Ziel, 1895
  • Selected poems , ed. v. Ernst Ziel , 1898


Newer editions

  • Ludwig Pfau: Free Studies, Prussian Regiment, Theocratic Churchism and Autocratic Justice. Edited and introduced by Heiner Jestrabek . Freedom tree edition Spinoza Reutlingen 2021, ISBN 978-3-922589-72-3 .
  • Ludwig Pfau: “Freedom is the most beautiful festival.” Time and epistles. Edited and with an afterword by Erhard Jöst . Günther Emig's literary business 2020, ISBN 978-3-948371-67-8 .
  • Ludwig Pfau: Selected Works , ed. by Rainer Moritz. Silberburg-Verlag , Tübingen and Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-87407-155-3
  • Günther Emig : Poems set to music by Ludwig Pfau. Bibliography. Heilbronn: 1994. (= Ludwig-Pfau-Blätter; 3)
  • The cabaret ensemble Die GAUwahnen , founded by Erhard Jöst , published poems and songs by Ludwig Pfau in 2002, embedded in a framework, on the CD Die GAUwahnen: Kraft und Leben !.

Individual evidence

  1. Ludwig Pfau. In:  Neues Wiener Tagblatt , April 20, 1894, p. 2 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nwg
  2. Ulrich Maier: From then on the censorship prevails ... Press trial against Ludwig Pfau's satirical weekly newspaper Der Eulenspiegel from the revolutionary period 1848/49. Ed .: State Archives Directorate Baden-Württemberg. No. 13 . Archive news, Stuttgart 1996, p. 1 ff . ( online as PDF ).
  3. Jakob Schneider: Ludwig Pfau in Switzerland. Retrieved May 24, 2020 .
  4. Esslingen, September 25th. In:  Wiener Zeitung , October 2, 1850, p. 12 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / wrz
  5. Switzerland. In:  Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , March 2, 1852, p. 1 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / dea
  6. ^ Heinrich August Winkler : The long way to the west , Vol. 1: German history from the end of the Old Reich to the fall of the Weimar Republic . CH Beck, Munich 2000, p. 170.
  7. Political Review. In:  Oesterreichisches Journal , January 17, 1871, p. 4 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / osj
  8. Ludwig Pfau's seventieth birthday. In:  Neue Freie Presse , August 29, 1891, p. 5 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp
  9. Ludwig Pfau †. In:  Die Presse , April 14, 1894, p. 9 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / maintenance / apr
  10. Ludwig Pfau. In:  Neue Freie Presse , April 10, 1894, p. 5 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp
  11. Pfau's funeral. In:  Neue Freie Presse , April 16, 1894, p. 3 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp
  12. Little Chronicle. In:  Wiener Zeitung , April 18, 1894, p. 19 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / wrz
  13. The cremation of Ludwig Pfau's corpse. In:  Neue Freie Presse , April 19, 1894, p. 21 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp
  14. ^ Burial of Ludwig Pfau's ashes. In:  Neue Freie Presse , May 1, 1894, pp. 25f. (Online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp
  15. Friedemann Scholl: Eternal Nation, Tübingen 1995, p. 377 f.
  16. Post on


  • Ludwig peacock leaves . Edited by Günther Emig . Issue 1–3. Heilbronn 1993-1994.
  • Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Sub-Volume 4: M-Q. Winter, Heidelberg 2000, ISBN 3-8253-1118-X , pp. 307-309.
  • Christian Jansen:  Pfau, Ludwig. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 20, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-428-00201-6 , p. 301 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Michael Kienzle , Dirk Mende (arrangement): Ludwig Pfau. A Swabian radical 1821–1894 (special issue Marbacher Magazin 67/1994 for the exhibition “Poster Attack for Ludwig Pfau” in the Heilbronn City Library April / May 1994; to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ludwig Pfau's death). Marbach am Neckar: German Schiller Society 1994. ISBN 3-929146-19-3 .
  • Ulrich Maier: The Eulenspiegel. A satirical weekly paper from 1848 in German and history lessons. A teaching model. Heilbronn: Stadtbücherei 1993. 44 p. (= Ludwig Pfau sheets 2)
  • Reinald Ullmann: Ludwig Pfau. Monograph by a forgotten author. Frankfurt am Main: Lang 1987. (= European university publications; Series I, German Language and Literature; 1012) ISBN 3-8204-1101-1 .
  • Erich Weinstock: Ludwig Pfau. The life and work of a forty-eight man. Heilbronn: Stadtarchiv 1975. (= small series of publications from the archive of the city of Heilbronn; 7)

Web links

Commons : Ludwig Pfau  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Ludwig Pfau  - Sources and full texts