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Nekrolog [ nekroˈloːk ], from Middle Latin necrologium ("register of the dead "), a neologism (not a loan word !) From Greek roots (νεκρὀς: dead , λἐγειν: (to) read, collect; speak, speak ) has denoted a monastery and since the Middle Ages Register of the dead. Even Joachim Heinrich Campe verdeutschte it in 1813 with "Todt book", "Todt Hall", "Todt hall".

It was only in the modern era that a second meaning emerged that has been the dominant one since Schmid and Schlichtegroll : presentation of the biography and appreciation of the life's work of a deceased person . The appraisals of people who died within a calendar year are often published under this title. The novelty here is that the necrology goes beyond the register-based data collection and deals in detail with the personality of the deceased. From its appearance until the middle of the 19th century there was no German translation for Nekrolog to mean appreciation of a deceased person . Only since this time has the German word obituary , which had previously only been used literally ("Nach-Ruf"), been used as a synonym for Nekrolog .

In recent times, any form of public or published remembrance of the dead is sometimes referred to as a necrology . This definition is controversial because it is also being expanded to include epochs in which the neologism Nekrolog did not even exist or did not have the modern meaning. Then the designation represents a classic anachronism .

An obituary for prominent personalities is mostly published in the print media today , but there are also filmic obituaries.

middle Ages

Medieval necrological manuscript from the Essen monastery (approx. 1300). The week from August 12th to 18th is opened with the entry of the founder of the Abbey, Altfrid, on August 15th.

From the Middle Ages , lists of the dead in monasteries and monasteries are known, which are called necrologies ( Sg. The necrology, in the spelling at that time Necrolog (ium) ) or obituaries (Sg. Obituarium or obituar ). The names of those to be remembered in prayer were noted in these registers. Significant necrologies have been preserved, for example, from the Fulda , Prüm and Lorch monasteries . From the late Middle Ages onwards, corresponding registers, for which the term “ Jahrzeitbuch ” has become naturalized in German , were kept in most monasteries, monasteries and parish churches.

Main article year book

Modern times

In the late 18th century Christian Heinrich Schmid (1746–1800) began with the necrology or news of the life and writings of the most distinguished deceased German poets (1785) and Friedrich von Schlichtegroll (1765–1822) with the necrology for the year [1791 -1800], containing news of the life of strange Germans who died that year and Christian Friedrich Buchner with the necrology for friends of German literature (1791-1794) with the publication of necrological yearbooks, which were continued in the 19th century: Nekrolog der Teutschen ( 1802-1806); New Nekrolog der Deutschen (1824–1854, Ed. Georg Friedrich August Schmidt ) or Biographisches Jahrbuch und Deutschen Nekrolog (1897–1917).

20th and 21st centuries

Biographical yearbooks of the 20th century, such as Wer ist's , Wer ist Wer (the German Who is Who ) or the Genealogical Handbook of the Nobility usually contain a separate list of those who died within a certain period of time (referred to there as "Nekrolog").

Eckhard Henscheid's We stood at open graves from 1988 is an independent work with obituaries . The lyrical obituary is a special form.

The media have often created obituaries in advance for very old or seriously ill celebrities in order to be able to react quickly in the event of death. The New York Times has about two thousand obituaries prepared for the still living. This occasionally leads to the prepared obituary being published by mistake, even though the person concerned is still alive. Early obituaries were repeatedly made public through the British Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon , and Steve Jobs was also able to read the first obituary for himself three years before his death. One in December 2012 over the web feed from Spiegel Online accidentally released obituary Marc Pitzkes to the former US president George HW Bush was unusual in that Pitzke of "almost elegiac obituaries of the US media" sen to Bush. reported, although no other obituary had yet been published that Pitzke could have read.

See also


  • Alana Baranick, Jim Sheeler, Stephen Miller: Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers. Marion Street Press, Oak Park 2005, ISBN 1-933338-02-4 .
  • Ralf Georg Bogner: The author in obituary. Forms and functions of literary memorial culture from the Reformation to Vormärz. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2006, ISBN 3-484-35111-X (= studies and texts on the social history of literature , 111). (At the same time: Rostock, Univ., Habil-Schr., 2005).
  • Rolf Hartmann : The autobiographical in the Basel funeral speech. Basel, Stuttgart 1963 (Dissertation Basel, Basel contributions to historical studies , vol. 90)
  • Terence Kardong OSB : The life of the other. On the art of writing a necrology , in: Erbe und Einsatz , 94 (2018), pp. 146–155. [Contribution to the creation of today's monastic necrologists]
  • Franz Lerner : Ideology and mentality of patrician funeral sermons. Marburg 1970
  • Harald Martenstein : On Obituaries , Zeitmagazin , November 10, 2015 (glossary)

Individual evidence

  1. Pierer's Konversationslexikon, 7th ed. 1891.
  2. Wilhelm Gemoll , K. Kretske: Greek-German school and hand dictionary, 10th edition Oldenburg 2006.
  3. ^ Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language. 18th edition edit. v. Walther Mitzka . Berlin: De Gruyter 1960., p. 499:
  4. The Lexicon of the Middle Ages (ed. By Norbert Angermann, Robert-Henri Bauthier), Vol. VI, distinguishes between "the Necrolog (Book of the Dead)" and "the Nekrolog (obituary)"
  5. Stephen Hiltner: An Obituary Written From Beyond the Grave? Not Quite. In: The New York Times , September 22, 2017.
  6. Kurt Sagatz: Technical breakdown at Spiegel Online: If the obituary sounds too early. In: Der Tagesspiegel , January 1, 2013.

Web links

Commons : Necrologist  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Nekrolog  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations