Martin Greiffenhagen

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Martin Greiffenhagen (born September 30, 1928 in Bremervörde ; † June 2, 2004 in Esslingen am Neckar ) was a German political scientist . He was mainly concerned with political cultural research .


Greiffenhagen was the son of Gustav Greiffenhagen , pastor at St. Stephen's Church in Bremen and a member of the Confessing Church . The childhood and youth in the Stephaniviertel were very formative for him. In 1948 he passed the Abitur at the old grammar school in Bremen and then completed an apprenticeship as a bookseller. From 1950 to 1956 he studied philosophy and social sciences in Heidelberg , Göttingen , Birmingham and Oxford .

In 1958 he became a research assistant at the University of Social Sciences in Wilhelmshaven . In 1962 he went to the Lüneburg University of Education as a professor of political science . In 1965 he moved to the University of Stuttgart , where he was full professor of political science and headed the political science institute. From 1991 to 1992 he was the founding officer at the Erfurt University of Education .

Greiffenhagen occupied a. a. with the history of political culture in Germany. In 1981, together with his wife, political scientist Sylvia Greiffenhagen , he published the concise dictionary on the political culture of the Federal Republic , the first and only reference work on it. He published on reform theory, the culture of compromise and the relationship between intellectuals and politics. At the beginning of the 1980s he turned to generational research, wrote about the susceptibility of pastor's children to totalitarian ideologies, showed parallels between fanatical fraternities , Freikorps soldiers and the Red Army Faction (RAF). In his autobiography he reflects his life under the general aspects of the sciences that he has studied and that he teaches and comes to the conclusion: "It is not the unmistakable, but the generalizable of my life that I find remarkable." But he emphasizes also: “… Identity does not only result from scientific knowledge. Consent with oneself and the world requires an abundance of sources of happiness which, in their inconsistencies, make sense. ”In the year after his retirement as a professor in Stuttgart, in 1991 he published a facultative overarching essay on“ Living in Changing Values ​​”, timelessly relevant to life and life Living as a theme.

In 1994 he received the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's prize , “ The Political Book ”. He and his wife received the award for the jointly written study “A Difficult Fatherland. On Political Culture in United Germany ”(1993) awarded. Based on an earlier study (1979) by the two authors on the political culture of the Federal Republic of Bonn, the publication is particularly motivated not least by the “interest in a double-track network of different findings in East and West Germany” and can generally be viewed as a standard work of political science research.

In 1997 Greiffenhagen published his research on political legitimacy in Germany, including civil society issues after the reunification of two very different political cultures in Germany on the one hand and on the threshold of a new millennium with its numerous challenges in the global competition of economic and political social orders on the other. His concise finding is timeless: The ability of the citizen in a democratically constituted society is essential, "... regardless of the understandable need for clarity to live with ambivalences." And further: "This virtue of 'ambiguity tolerance' is special today Dimensions required. "

In his last study (1999), Greiffenhagen devoted himself to the “cultures of compromise”, addressing a paradigm shift of a fundamental nature - the change in compromise from strategic action to a certain way of life in a democratic society. When asked about the prerequisites for human coexistence in an open world society, Greiffenhagen formulated: "... a good knowledge of one another and the will to get along peacefully with one another over long periods of time."

“At times he was part of Willy Brandt's advisory group ; as a “skeptical enlightener” he accompanied current politics with comments in the media, ”wrote Der Spiegel in an obituary on June 16, 2004. And Tilman Krause read about Greiffenhagen's death in Die Welt on June 10, 2004:“. ... as a retirement home he chose a 500 year old rectory in Esslingen, which he had renovated himself. He knew this milieu, which has proven to be more fruitful for Württemberg than anyone else. "

Greiffenhagen found his final resting place in Esslingen am Neckar, his last place of residence, in the Ebershalden cemetery .

Works (selection)


  • Cultures of Compromise . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2002, ISBN 3-8100-2388-4 .
  • with Sylvia Greiffenhagen: A difficult fatherland. On the political culture in the united Germany . List, 1993, ISBN 3-471-77668-0 .
  • Political legitimacy in Germany . Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh 1997, ISBN 3-89204-332-9 .
  • Born in 1928. From a troubled life . Piper, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-492-10887-3 .
  • with Sylvia Greiffenhagen: Happiness. Realities of a dream . Piper, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-492-03095-5 .
  • The topicality of Prussia. Questions to the Federal Republic . Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-596-23488-3 .
  • From Potsdam to Bonn. Ten chapters on the political culture of Germany . Piper, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-492-03035-1 .
  • Prophets, rebels and ministers. Intellectuals in politics . Piper, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-492-03046-7 .
  • The dilemma of conservatism in Germany . Piper, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-492-00462-8 .


  • with Sylvia Greiffenhagen, Katja Neller: Greiffenhagen, concise dictionary on the political culture of the Federal Republic of Germany . Westdeutscher Verlag, Wiesbaden 2002, ISBN 3-531-13209-1
  • with Kurt E. Becker and Klaus Waltenbauer: Alphons Silbermanns sociology of living. A documentation. Domus-Verlag, Bonn 1991, ISBN 3-87169-3669
  • The Protestant rectory. A cultural and social history . Kreuz-Verlag, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-7831-0751-2
  • Pastor's children. Autobiographical on a Protestant subject . Kreuz-Verlag, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-7831-0656-7
  • Democratization in State and Society . Piper, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-492-02037-2
  • with Wolfgang Däubler: On the theory of reform. Designs and strategies . CF Müller, Heidelberg 1982, ISBN 3-8114-1778-9
  • with Hermann Scheer: The counter-reform . Rowohlt-Taschenbuch, Reinbek 1982, ISBN 3-499-11943-9
  • Emancipation . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1982, ISBN 3-455-09085-0
  • Fight for words? Political terms in a dispute . Hanser, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-446-13159-0
  • with Rainer Prätorius: A laborious dialogue. Contributions to the relationship between politics and science . European Publishing House, 1979, ISBN 3-434-20112-2

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Greiffenhagen: Born in 1928. From a troubled life. Piper Verlag, Munich 1988, ISBN 978-3-492-10887-4 , p. 9
  2. Martin Greiffenhagen: Born in 1928. From a troubled life. Piper Verlag, Munich 1988, ISBN 978-3-492-10887-4 , p. 195
  3. Kurt E. Becker et al. (Ed.): Environmental contradictions, conflicts, solutions. Domus Verlag, Bonn 1991, ISBN 978-3-87169-370-0 , p. 103 ff
  4. ^ Martin and Sylvia Greiffenhagen: A difficult fatherland. List Verlag, Munich / Leipzig 1993, ISBN 978-3-471-77668-1 , p. 8
  5. ^ A b Martin Greiffenhagen: Political Legitimacy in Germany. Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh 1997, ISBN 978-3-89204-332-4 , pp. 403-404
  6. Martin Greiffenhagen: Cultures of Compromise . Leske and Budrich, Opladen 1999, ISBN 978-3-8100-2388-9 , p. 213