Richard Harder (philologist)

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Richard Harder (born January 19, 1896 in Tetenbüll , † September 4, 1957 in Zurich ) was a German classical philologist ( Graezist ). He translated Plotinus , was a specialist in Greek epigraphy (inscription) and worked on an interpretation of Greek culture. He played an important role in the science policy of National Socialism in the field of classical studies .


The son of a pastor attended the Kiel School of Academics and, after graduating from high school in 1914, initially studied theology in Heidelberg. After the First World War, in which he temporarily served as a medic at the front (because of a heart defect), he turned to classical philology . In Kiel he closely followed Werner Jaeger, who was only a little older , and followed him to Berlin in 1921, where Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff maintained the leading position even after his retirement . After completing his doctorate at Jaeger in 1924 with the annotated edition of the pseudepigraphic "Pythagorean" text Ocellus Lucanus , for which he had worked in Italian libraries in 1921/22, the following year he was given the task of editing the new Gnomon review magazine - largely inaugurated by Jaeger . a function that he exercised until 1944, alongside co-editing since 1930. A friendly relationship soon arose with his teacher, which was also resumed after the war.

Harder completed his habilitation in Heidelberg in 1927 with Otto Regenbogen with a study on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis and in the same year went to the Albertus University of Königsberg as a professor . Here he made a contribution to the reform of education at school and university; In a private sideline he also taught Greek to the young Hannah Arendt . In the summer semester of 1930 he accepted a call to Kiel, where he worked mainly on friendly terms with Felix Jacoby , Willy Theiler and Erich Burck . The Plotinus translation was created in the Kiel years , the outstanding scientific achievement of all life.

In the summer of 1939 Harder was on leave for a few months for epigraphic studies in Greece (financed by the DFG ), as preparatory work for his research on Greek cultural history, but also in connection with the Institute for Indo-European Intellectual History planned by Alfred Rosenberg . Also in 1939 he was elected a corresponding member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences . Right at the beginning of the Second World War , Harder was drafted into the army (Wehrmacht) ( western campaign ), but was released in October 1940 to set up the planned institute.

Position on National Socialism

After the " seizure of power " Harder became a member of the SA in January 1934 (until 1936), in 1936 of the NS-Kraftfahrerkorps (as Rottenführer, until 1940, then resigned due to lack of time), 1937 of the NSDAP , 1938 of the NS-Lecturer Association . In 1941 he left the church, but continued to raise his daughters in Christianity.

Characteristic of his intellectual attitude at the beginning of the National Socialism is the positive review of the Freiburg rectorate speech by Martin Heidegger , which fully reflects the spirit of optimism at the German universities. Like many of his colleagues, Harder took part in the two events of the "camp work" organized by the Nazi Lecturers' Association , Classical Classical Studies, Würzburg January 1941 and Augsburg June 1942.

The "Institute for Indo-European Intellectual History"

The closest relationship to the regime resulted from the fact that Harder was entrusted with the management of the " Institute for Indo-European Spiritual History ", a branch of the party university planned by Rosenberg (" High School ").

From the beginning it was planned to add the position of director to the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Munich . The university and faculty resisted, especially because of the unsecured funding. It was supposed to come from the funds of the dissolved Catholic Theological Faculty, but of course it also had to affect the faculty that had its own ideas about how to use it. In addition, there was right to be fear of overlapping research between the institute and the university.

While the personnel ideas of the Rosenberg Office concerned rather mediocre people, there was no doubt about the reputation of the intended head. There was hardly any resistance in Munich against Richard Harder as a person or scientist. A statement emphasized the scientific achievement (Plotin translation), but objected that his research was too narrow and too specialized, so that one could do without it. On the part of the party, the Nazi lecturers came out against Harder, who recalled arguments with him in Kiel at the time of the seizure of power and, on the other hand, reproached him for having had the audacity to want to join the party immediately after the seizure of power; nothing else is known of this. All objections could not prevent Rosenberg from asserting himself and Harder being appointed by the Reich Ministry of Science on May 14, 1941 . The Minister Bernhard Rust appointed him to the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Munich, only in addition the approval was given "to work at the Institute for Indo-European Intellectual History in Munich, branch of the High School".

Harder had already moved to Munich in March 1941. In the summer he worked again in Greece, where he, financed by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg , carried out topographical, archaeological and epigraphic work in Chalkis and Sparta . Conflicts of objectives with other bodies, especially the German Archaeological Institute , were inevitable. These problems and the continued lack of jobs and funds led Harder to shift his work more to the university.

Since the winter semester 1941/42, lectures and exercises have been listed in the course catalog that prove to be versatile. He also represented his Latinist colleague Rudolf Till and wrote some papers in this area at the time. He kept in touch with his traditional subject.

In September 1942 Rosenberg set up a "Working Group for Greek-Iranian Antiquities Research in the Occupied Eastern Territories" within the "Institute", also based in Munich. Harder was its director, his deputy was Hans Reinerth . Their task was to plunder art treasures of all kinds, especially libraries and archaeological finds from museums:

“From September 21, 1942 I have Dr. Reinerth was entrusted with the determination, safeguarding and research of the prehistoric and early historical Germanic and Slavic finds and other legacies in museums, scientific institutes, private collections and other places in the occupied eastern territories "

- Rosenberg to Harder, Federal Archives (Germany) No. NS 8/265, p. 159

The reports on the leaflets of the "White Rose"

Presumably it is related to Richard Harder's position at the IIG, which made him known to the Gestapo Munich as a specialist scientist, that in February 1943 the six leaflets of the resistance group “ White Rose ” were presented to him for an expert opinion. He received the two newest ones on February 17th, and the four older ones the following day, shortly before Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested.

In the discussion, Harder used the usual philological methods in interpreting unknown, anonymous texts. He succeeded in clarifying the chronology , but wrongly assumed that it was always the same author; he even believed that he could determine an inner development (political biography) in this phantom. He settled the author, whom he recognizes as having a high intellectual level, in the vicinity of the university. He thought he was a humanities scholar, most likely a Protestant theologian. He had a figure like the publicist Wilhelm Stapel in mind (Christian-Protestant foundations, nationalism , modified anti-Semitism ), but he did not try to name a specific person - the consequences of exposure must have been clear to him. Of course, he turned against the political stance of the leaflets several times.

The reports were not used in the trial against the members of the conspiracy. They left no traces in the estate, although the discussion about the action was lively even during Harder's lifetime.

Harder and the Gnomon

Harder has been accused of having adapted the gnomon to the National Socialist ideology, for which Alfred Rosenberg is also named as a witness; The aim was to reject Martin Bormann's doubts , head of the Nazi party chancellery , about Harder's political reliability. In reality, he was able to keep the magazine largely free from Nazi influences. In 1941, in connection with his appointment to Munich, he was accused of continuing to allow Jews to have their say, which at least was true until 1939, also for other exiled and emigrated scientists.

Attitude to the ideology of National Socialism

Harder's publications at the beginning of the Nazi era show that he was as moved by the spirit of optimism in the new state as many other scholars. Like others, he wanted to have recognized a “German Plato”. He undoubtedly believed in National Socialism, including racism . The pseudo-scientific ideology, as cultivated by Rosenberg, he rather did not adopt, but rather, vaguely as it was, considered it to be interpretable and thus compatible with his scientific principles. The racial ideological phraseology of National Socialism is unmistakable in connection with the actual work program of the High School and the Institute for Indo-European Spiritual History, the publications, insofar as they are of a purely scientific nature, are free of traces of National Socialist thought. Individual statements seem artificial (and were therefore easily deleted in the reprint after the war). The contribution to Franz Bopp's 75th anniversary of death is most strongly influenced . With the adapted language, Harder wanted to ensure that he could use the work opportunities for himself and his students. "According to the current situation, that could only be bought with political concessions."

The denazification questionnaire is preserved in the estate . As an annex to this, there is a "memorandum" of eleven pages (dated June 3, 1945) in which Harder primarily provides information about the "intellectual tasks" of the planned institute, but also tries to justify his position in the Third Reich. He insists that he was less the head of the institute than a university professor. He soon gained insight into his mistakes, as a "self-declaration" of November 21, 1949 shows.

post war period

After the end of the war, Richard Harder was ousted in December 1945. The decision in the court proceedings from December 1947 classified him as a “ fellow traveler ”. With that he was allowed to publish again, a possibility that was important to him. The removal from the civil service remained in effect, instead of regular payments only a small maintenance contribution was granted. On December 20, 1949, the faculty decided to advocate reinstatement for the purpose of retirement, which was rejected, but from October 1, 1950, he received 80% of the pension. On October 27, 1951, he filed claims under Art. 131 GG (so-called 131er ).

Until the summer of 1952, Harder lived in Possenhofen on Lake Starnberg , where he kept himself afloat until his financial situation improved with smaller jobs, including private lessons and private lectures; he remained loyal to the place even after his later appointment to Münster. From here he took part in the intellectual life of Munich, but was not allowed to give lectures in his field again until 1951. Gradually he got in touch with specialist colleagues, including those who had emigrated, including Werner Jäger, Willy Theiler and Felix Jacoby. He did not meet Hannah Arendt again until the end of 1956. He had adjusted to never being allowed to teach again, saw himself as a private scholar and freelance writer and developed many literary plans. In 1952, however, he received the professorship for Greek in Münster , where he began his work in the winter semester of 1952/53.

Harder ended his life with Plotinus. At the 1957 annual meeting of the Hardt Foundation in Vandœuvres , where he had traveled late from the hospital in Munich, he gave a lecture on the source or tradition , but on the return journey he succumbed to a heart condition in the buffet room of the Zurich train station . He was buried in Pöcking .

From 1924 until his divorce in the spring of 1941, Richard Harder was with Mathilde, geb. Panizza, married. He had two daughters, Christine (born 1932) and Taalke (born 1934). His estate, initially looked after by his student Walter Marg , is kept in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.


Richard Harder's numerous works dealt with wide-ranging topics from both Greek and Latin philology , from the early epic to the high imperial era, where he turned primarily to philosophy. His main focus was the philosophy of Plotinus , Greek epigraphy and cultural history. In this context (stays in Greece, IIG) the work on the written form is important . He also translated the writings of Greek and Roman authors ( Tyrtaios , Plato , Ovid ). The publication of Henri-Irénée Marrou's history of upbringing in classical antiquity , which has not yet been completely replaced, is commendable , where he was more involved in the translation than can be seen. His main work is the Plotinus translation, the revision of which was prematurely ended by his death.



  • About Ciceros Somnium Scipionis. Niemeyer, Halle (Saale) 1929 ( writings of the Königsberger learned society , Geisteswiss. Kl. , Volume 6, 1929, Issue 3). - Reprinted in: Kleine Schriften , pp. 354–395.
  • Plato and Athens . In: New year books for science and youth education , Volume 10, 1934, pp. 492–500.
  • The mastery of writing by the Greeks . In: Helmut Berve (ed.): The new image of antiquity . Volume I. Köhler & Amelang, Leipzig 1942, pp. 91-108. Reprint: Kleine Schriften , pp. 81–97.
  • Notes on the Greek writing . In: Die Antike , Volume 19, 1943, pp. 86-108.
  • Rottenschrift . In: Yearbook of the German Archaeological Institute , Volume 58, 1943, pp. 93–132. Reprint: Kleine Schriften , pp. 98–124.
  • Carpocrates of Chalcis and the Memphite Isis propaganda. de Gruyter, Berlin 1944 ( Abh. Preuss. Akad., Phil.-Hist. Klasse , 1943, 14).
  • Character of the Greeks. A cultural-physiognomic sketch. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1949.
  • Paionios and Grophon, two sculptor inscriptions . 1955.
  • Small fonts. (Editor Walter Marg). Beck, Munich 1960 (with the editor's epilogue , pp. 475–499, and bibliography, pp. 502–504).
  • The peculiarity of the Greeks. Introduction to Greek culture. (Editor Walter Marg). Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1962 ( Herder library , volume 120).

Editions / translations

  • Ocellus Lucanus. Text and comment . Weidmann, Berlin 1926 ( New Philological Studies , Volume 1). - Reprint: Weidmann, Dublin 1966.
  • Plotin's writings . Translated (in chronological order) Vol. 1–5. Meiner, Leipzig 1930–1937.
    • Revised, with Greek reading text (based on the edition by P. Henry and HR Schwyzer) and notes. Vol. 1-6. Meiner, Hamburg 1956–1971 ( Philosophical Library , Volumes 211–215 and 276). Volumes 1–5 each subdivided into a and b for text and translation or comments; Vol. 5c contains: Porphyrios, Leben des Plotinos ; Vol. 6 contains the indices. - Reprint 2004 ISBN 978-3-7873-1709-7 . During Harder's lifetime only volumes 1a / b and 5c were published.
  • Plato's Crito . Text, translation, afterword. Weidmann, Berlin 1934. - The translation was reprinted in: Plato, Sokrates in conversation . Fischer library, Frankfurt a. M. 1953, pp. 37-52 (Fischer Bücherei 24). Also in: Kleine Schriften, pp. 223–246.
  • Henri Irénée Marrou: History of Education in Classical Antiquity . Translated from Charlotte Beumann. Edited by Richard Harder. Alber, Freiburg 1957 (translation of Histoire de l'éducation dans l'antiquité ).


  • Christoph Helmig: Harder, Richard. In: Peter Kuhlmann , Helmuth Schneider (Hrsg.): History of the ancient sciences. Biographical Lexicon (= The New Pauly . Supplements. Volume 6). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02033-8 , Sp. 531 f.
  • Volker Losemann : National Socialism and Antiquity. Studies on the development of ancient history 1933–1945 . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1977 (series Historische Perspektiven 7), ISBN 3-455-09219-5 .
  • Walter Marg: Afterword . In: Richard Harder: Small writings. Beck, Munich 1960, pp. 475-499.
  • Wolfgang Schadewaldt : Richard Harder (obituary). In: Gnomon 30 (1958), pp. 73-76.
  • Wolfgang Schadewaldt:  Harder, Richard. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , p. 665 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Gerhard Schott: Richard Harder: Classical philologist, first interpreter of the leaflets of the 'White Rose' and the 'Institute for Indo-European Spiritual History'. In: Elisabeth Kraus (Ed.): The University of Munich in the Third Reich. Essays . Volume 2, Herbert Utz, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-8316-0727-3 (Series: Contributions to the History of the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Volume 4), pp. 413–500.
  • Maximilian Schreiber: Classical Studies in National Socialism. Classical Philology at the Ludwig Maximilians University. In: Elisabeth Kraus (Ed.): The University of Munich in the Third Reich. Essays . Volume 1, Herbert Utz, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-8316-0640-5 (Series: Contributions to the History of the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Volume 1), pp. 181–248.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ In the course of the new appointments after the removal of unpleasant members. In the election, however, the scientific quality criteria were fully respected; see. Stefan Rebenich : Between adaptation and resistance? The Berlin Academy of Sciences from 1933 to 1945 . In: Beat Näf (Hrsg.): Antiquity and Classical Studies in the Time of Fascism and National Socialism . Ed. Cicero, Mandelbachtal 2001, ISBN 3-934285-45-7 , pp. 203-244, especially pp. 213, 231 ( online ).
  2. ↑ In summary on the party offices Gerhard Schott, p. 460 f., After the questionnaire on denazification.
  3. Gerhard Schott, p. 438 with note 109.
  4. The two reports were unknown until German reunification , since then they have been briefly referred to. Now they have been edited by Gerhard Schott and placed in the context of Harder's thought and work; see Schott, pp. 414-417; 450-459; Reprint (from the secondary records at the Gestapo offices) with commentary as No. 2 and 3, pp. 485–489 and 489–492.
  5. Ursula Wolf: Reviews in the historical journal, in the Gnomon and in the American Historical Review from 1930 to 1943/44 . In: Beat Näf (Hrsg.): Antiquity and Classical Studies in the Time of Fascism and National Socialism . Ed. Cicero, Mandelbachtal 2001, ISBN 3-934285-45-7 , pp. 419-438, especially pp. 428-432. Only ancient history is considered here, while Gerhard Schott, p. 418 f .; 436 f. the entire field of classical studies.
  6. ^ Franz Bopp and Indo-European Studies . In: National Socialist monthly issue, 152/153, Nov.-Dec. 1942, pp. 2-12.
  7. Volker Losemann, p. 173; see. Gerhard Schott, p. 480 f. with the voices of contemporary scholars.
  8. ^ Reprinted by Gerhard Schott as Document No. 4, pp. 495–497. It begins with: “I don't want to gloss over what has been done wrong. My pact with National Socialism was factually wrong. "
  9. Jürgen Busche : The old Nazi on the island. 1956: Hannah Arendt meets her Greek teacher, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung of October 14, 2006, 16; see. also web links, Arendt-Inst. Oldenburg
  10. ^ Edition of the lectures: Eric R. Dodds (Ed.): Les sources de Plotin. Dix exposés et discussions, Vandoeuvres-Genève 21 - 29 août 1957 . Hardt Foundation, Geneva 1960 (Entretiens sur l'Antiquité Classique 5); Harder had spoken freely so that there is no text, but the introductory chapter could be reconstructed from drafts and notes (printed pp. 325–332, with discussion pp. 333–339); the subsequent interpretation of Enneades VI, 4-5 was irrecoverable