Theodor Schieder

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Theodor Schieder (born April 11, 1908 in Oettingen , † October 8, 1984 in Cologne ) was a German historian . With his scientific work, his influence as an academic teacher and his activities as a science organizer, he is considered one of the most important and influential German modern historians after the Second World War . More recently, his commitment to National Socialism and his role as a possible “thought leader” of the National Socialist extermination policy have been the subject of public controversy.

Schieder right with Federal President Lübke

life and work

During the Weimar Republic

Schieder grew up in Oettingen, Augsburg and Kempten (Allgäu) in a middle-class Protestant family. After attending the humanistic grammar school at St. Anna in Augsburg, he studied history , German literature and geography in Munich and Berlin from 1926 to 1933 . Schieder was influenced by the Renaissance historian Paul Joachimsen . After his death, he received his doctorate from Karl Alexander von Müller in 1933 on The Little German Party in Bavaria in the struggle over the national question . A year later, Schieder married. The marriage resulted in three sons and a daughter, including the later historian Wolfgang Schieder .

Schieder had already joined the youth movement while he was still at school . During his studies he headed the Munich guild "Greif" of the anti-Semitic , militaristic and radical nationalist German Academic Guild . Theodor Oberländer and Friedrich Weber were among his older federal brothers . Schieder oriented himself towards the young conservative wing of the guilds and belonged from March to October 1930 to the people 's conservative association under Gottfried Treviranus . After the Anti-Young Plan campaign , he became increasingly interested in the radical revisionist ideas of Karl Haushofer , who personally presented his concepts to the Munich guild. At this point in time, Schieder separated himself from the National Socialists . Instead, he represented a young conservative imperial idea based on Arthur Moeller van den Bruck . As a folk historian, Schieder belonged, according to the historian Ingo Haar , to the "elite in waiting who sought to clarify the German question in Europe authoritatively and militarily."

During the National Socialism

After the National Socialist " seizure of power ", Schieder benefited from the connections of his federal brothers Erich Maschke , Rudolf Craemer , Theodor Oberländer and Günther Franz . With a scholarship from the Publikationsstelle Berlin-Dahlem , he began working on his habilitation in 1934 . In the same year, on Maschke's recommendation, he was appointed head of the " East Prussia State Office for Post-War History", a branch of the Prussian Secret State Archives at the Albertus University of Königsberg . According to his own description, Archer's position served to “track down and name scientific topics and finally to provide information to authorities and organizations”.

In Königsberg Schieder joined the circle around the historian Hans Rothfels . In 1935 he had to say goodbye to his original population history concept of a settlement history of West Prussia from 1466 to 1772 because, according to Schieder himself in a letter to Albert Brackmann , "the political results" were in part "not very positive". Instead, he pursued an approach to the history of ideas by contrasting the “idea” of the empire with the western nation-state principle as a concept for the “reorganization” of East Central Europe . In 1939 he finally completed his habilitation with the study of German Spirit and Classical Freedom in the Weichsellande. Political ideas and political literature in West Prussia from the Lublin Union to the Polish partitions (1569–1772 / 73) with Kurt von Raumer , who had meanwhile taken over Rothfels' chair. Schieder worked on Gunther Ipsen 's concise dictionary of border and foreign Germans and dealt with the " Memel question " and Italian fascism .

Schieder was a volunteer employee of the NS main training office in Königsberg and joined the NSDAP in May 1937 . In the summer of 1939 he was sent by Gauleiter Erich Koch to the staff of experts on ethnic group issues at the Reich Ministry of the Interior , who helped prepare the war against Poland. After the attack on Poland , on October 7, 1939, Schieder drafted the memorandum of a working group of the North and East German Research Association (NOFG) on “Settlement and ethnic issues in the regained areas”. On the initiative of Hermann Aubin, the working group met in Breslau from October 4 to 7, 1939 , and discussed issues relating to the reorganization of Poland. In the memorandum, Schieder justified the “national struggle” and deportations as reparation under the Versailles Treaty , warned of the “dangers of racial intermingling”, pleaded for the “removal of Judaism from the Polish cities” and the “de-Jewification of the rest of Poland” as well as for the elimination of the Polish intelligence. To the extent that Schieder preferred the overseas migration of Jews to emigration to the rest of Poland, Götz Aly explains the contours of the Madagascar project .

Schieder worked with Gauleiter Koch, to whom he reported on the influence of the national democracy in Poland down to the district level and on the work of the former Prussian settlement commission . As before the war, the East Prussia regional office processed files, estates and confiscated documents and made the information available for confidential information. In 1941/42 Schieder represented Kleo Pleyer's chair at the University of Innsbruck , but at the turn of the year 1941/42 he also examined the population situation in Białystok . Koch personally thanked Schieder in January 1942 for the fact that the regional office had supplied material that had provided essential services “and that today is an important aid for us in the redesign of the Zichenau and Bialystok administrative districts.” After Pleyer's death, Harold Steinacker and Reinhard Wittram tried Schieder as a to win his successor. However, Koch, who had the heart-ailing Schieder declared indispensable in 1942 , pushed through Herbert Grundmann 's home appointment as professor of modern history at the University of Königsberg in May 1942 . Here Schieder worked as dean of the philosophical faculty (from 1943), was an active member of the Nazi lecturers' association as "lecturer of the Office for Press and Propaganda" and worked with the Bund Deutscher Osten , for which he wrote reports. In 1944 he joined the "Working Group for Research into the Bolshevik World Danger" in the Rosenberg office , for which he wanted to work on the focus areas "Liberalism and Marxism".

In the Federal Republic of Germany

In 1944/45 Schieder fled with his family to Dietmannsried in the west. At first he tried in vain for university positions in Hamburg , Göttingen , Münster and Frankfurt am Main . In July 1947 he was proposed for a chair at the University of Cologne , not least at the instigation of Peter Rassow , but had to achieve his denazification first . He had already tried this in Hamburg and Göttingen in order to circumvent the American-Bavarian liberation law, which was unfavorable for him. With the help of a number of colleagues such as Hans Rothfels, who explained Archer's political position in writing, he succeeded in denazification on November 28, 1947 at the Immenstadt branch of the Kempten- Land district court . On November 8, 1948, he was appointed full professor in Cologne, where, despite calls to Göttingen (1954), Freiburg (1957) and Munich (1963), he taught until his retirement in 1976. As a “gifted science organizer” he became one of the most influential West German historians.

From 1952 to 1954 Schieder was Dean of the Philosophical Faculty and in 1952 took over the historical part of diplomatic training in the Foreign Office . In 1953 he initiated the Historisches Kolleg Foundation in the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft in Munich, of which he chaired the Board of Trustees from 1978. From 1954 he was a member of the Rheinisch-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften and took over its presidency in 1978. He published the historical journal from 1957 and was head of the Association of German Historians from 1967 to 1972 . From 1962 to 1964 he was rector of the University of Cologne. In 1964 he became president of the historical commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . In 1972 Schieder received the Great Federal Cross of Merit with a Star from the Federal Republic of Germany . In 1971 he was accepted into the Order Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts . From 1965 to 1967 he was a member of the board of directors and since 1968 of the board of trustees of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation .

Schieder was in charge of the development of the documentation of the expulsion of Germans from East Central and Eastern Europe in the years 1945 to 1948 , which was financed by the Federal Ministry for expellees, refugees and war victims. The original aim of the project was to collect material for future peace negotiations. Schieder planned a “ white book ” in which he wanted to adhere to the “ right of the Germans” and to prove the “Bolshevik origin” of the expulsion . The one-sidedness of the concept met with criticism, so it was decided to create documentation according to scientific standards, which Schieder was given on April 29, 1952. In the course of the work, the concept changed. The planned sixth final volume, which was almost completed in 1960, was no longer published by the Federal Ministry for political reasons, because it also named and presented the National Socialist resettlement and extermination policy as one of the main causes of the later expulsion of the Germans. For Thomas Etzemüller, this manifests a change in thinking, since Schieder and Rothfels should have admitted that the documentation could not be instrumentalized in the originally planned sense.

Schieder processed the essential results of the unpublished final volume of the documentation in the first volume of the Handbuch der Europäische Geschichte (7 vols., 1968–1987), another major historiographical project that he himself initiated and conceived. He wrote the two introductions about the epoch between 1870 and 1914 and about the time since the First World War . As part of the Propylaea - History of Europe , Schieder wrote the volume State System as a Power in the World 1848–1918 (1977).

Despite his own interests in the history of ideas and the orientation towards Jacob Burckhardt's view of history , Schieder, with his efforts to address methodological, theoretical and general questions in historical studies, is considered to be one of the founders of a methodically reflective social and structural history in Germany. Schieder criticized the nation-state or Eurocentric standpoint of historians before 1945 and stated with Burckhardt's "Phenomenology of the Historical Crisis" the constant break in continuity as an essential feature of modernity. The Korean historian Jin-Sung Chun counted Schieder among the newly conservative and modernity-critical historians of the Federal Republic of Germany of the 1950s and emphasized Schieder's reference to the universal image of history and Hans Freyer's social theory . Instead, Hans-Ulrich Wehler warned that Scherer's own life history experiences should be given greater consideration in terms of a learning and processing process.

The structural history, as formulated by Schieder in explicit distancing from historical materialism and the Annales school , was tolerated by established historiography. By placing socio-cultural aspects at the center of his analysis of the triumph of the nation state in the modern world, Schieder paved the way, according to Chun, for the more socio-historical research of the younger generation ( historical social science ). As further credit, Schieder is credited with looking after historians of the younger generation such as Martin Broszat , Wolfgang J. Mommsen , Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Heinz-Gerhard Haupt , Thomas Nipperdey , Lothar Gall , Jörn Rüsen and Hans Henning Hahn not only as academic teachers , but also defended against critics.

Controversy about Schierer's Nazi past

Scherer's behavior during National Socialism only became the subject of public controversy after his death. In the post-war years, his National Socialist activities were little more than rumors. It was only after Schierer's death that Michael Burleigh was the first to point out Schierer's involvement in anti-Polish plans in his study on Ostforschung . In 1992, Angelika Ebbinghaus and Karl Heinz Roth published Scherer's Polendenkschrift of October 7, 1939. Götz Aly assessed Schieder's work as a preliminary stage to the General Plan East . Wolfgang Mommsen agrees that the program marked a break with the previous German national politics in the East and was in line with the plans of the SS . What is disputed, however, is the extent to which the memorandum represented Scherer's own views, or whether he only summarized the discussions at the Wroclaw Conference, and what role the memorandum also has in the political decision-making processes.

At the 150th Historikertag , held in September 1998 in Frankfurt am Main , a sensational, controversial debate was held in the section “German Historians under National Socialism”, which not least led to Scherer's commitment and that of his friend and colleague Werner Conze during National Socialism Subject and was perceived by the public as a “generation conflict”.

Ingo Haar accused Schieder of having "directly participated in the extermination policy" because Schieder recorded the population of the new East Prussian administrative district of Zichenau and the Suwalki district . These data formed the basis for the ethnic segregation of the “ Volksdeutsche ” and the Jewish and Slavic “mixed marriages” in the procedure of the German People's List . Götz Aly put it: “Both [ds Conze and Schieder] have worked professionally in their own way - as well-trained historians - in the Holocaust , a human crime. Schieder propagated war and the concept of a racially defined nation; he pleaded for the violent Germanization of ever larger conquered regions and wrote some of his texts exclusively for executive use. "

Wolfgang Mommsen, a student of Schieder, has argued that Schieder welcomed National Socialism, but that his commitment to National Socialism should be rated less than Haar and Aly did. In his approval of the resettlement actions in the east, Schieder could not anticipate the extent of the later plans for mass extermination. His main motive was to create a German settlement area in the east that was as closed as possible. To this end, he put his own future model on hold. The intellectual author of his memorandum is actually Hermann Aubin. Christoph Nonn emphasized that “a direct, causal influence” of the memorandum edited by Schieder “on specific National Socialist expulsions and murders is not verifiable and also not plausible.” Indirectly, Schieder “did participate in the inhuman and murderous Nazi policy : Because his voice was one in the polyphonic choir that created a mentality that legitimized and radicalized such a policy. "

Hans-Ulrich Wehler judged that Schieder had taken the "second chance" after 1945 and uncompromisingly distanced himself from his earlier key categories and figures of thought. Ingo Haar pointed out that Schieder pursued politically eminently charged projects, especially with the “Documentation of Expulsion” after 1945 and did not publish the critical results of his young employees from the planned final volume of the documentation. Schieder's biographer Christoph Nonn emphasized that Schieder did not differ “significantly from other historians of his generation who stayed in Germany between 1933 and 1945” in his professional or personal approach to his own Nazi past.


Schieder had been married to Eva Rogalsky (1910–1998) since 1934. They had three sons, the historian Wolfgang Schieder (* 1935), the biologist Otto Schieder (1938–1998) and the physicist Rudolf Schieder (* 1943) and a daughter, Margarete Schieder, married van Oordt (* 1940).

Fonts (selection)

  • The small German party in Bavaria in the struggle for national unity 1863–1871. Beck, Munich 1936.
  • German spirit and class freedom in the Weichselland. Political ideas and political literature in West Prussia from the Lublin Union to the Polish partitions. Gräfe and Unzer in Komm., Königsberg 1940.
  • with Kurt von Raumer (Ed.): Stages and changes in German unity; [Karl Alexander von Müller, gratefully dedicated to the researcher and teacher by friends and students, December 20, 1942]. German publishing company, Stuttgart 1943.
  • Documentation of the expulsion of Germans from East Central Europe. Federal Ministry for Displaced Persons, Bonn 1953 ff.
  • National and supranational creative forces in the history of the European East. Scherpe, Krefeld 1954.
  • The problem of nationalism in Eastern Europe. Müller, Cologne-Braunsfeld 1956.
  • The fate of the Germans in Hungary. Federal Ministry for Displaced Persons, Bonn 1956.
  • The fate of the Germans in Romania. Federal Ministry for Displaced Persons, Bonn 1957.
  • Hundred Years of Historical Journal 1859–1959. Oldenbourg, Munich 1959.
  • The German Empire from 1871 as a nation state. West German publishing house, Cologne 1961.
  • Italy from World War I to World War II. Stuttgart 1962.
  • Nietzsche and Bismarck. In: Historical magazine . Volume 196, 1963.
  • History as science. Oldenbourg, Munich / Vienna 1965.
  • Handbook of European History. Velcro Cotta [u. a.], Stuttgart 1968.
  • with Kurt Kluxen : Political ideologies and nation-state order. Oldenbourg, Vienna / Munich 1968.
  • State and society in the course of our time. 2nd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 1970.
  • Contributions to the history of the Weimar Republic. Oldenbourg, Munich 1971, ISBN 3-486-43491-8 .
  • Method problems in historical science. Oldenbourg, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-486-44101-9 .
  • System of states as the dominant power of the world 1848–1918 (= Propylaea history of Europe , vol. 5). Propylaea publishing house, Frankfurt a. M. 1977, ISBN 3-548-04775-0 .
  • Culture, Science and Science Policy in the German Empire. In: Medicine, Science, Technology and the Second Empire. Edited by Gunter Mann and Rolf Winau . Göttingen 1977.
  • Insights into history. Essays. [Josef Kroll on his 90th birthday on November 8, 1979] Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Vienna 1980.
  • Frederick the Great. A kingdom of contradictions. Propylaen-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1983, ISBN 3-549-07638-X .
  • From the German Confederation to the German Empire 1875–1871 (= Gebhardt , Handbook of German History . Volume 15). 9th, revised edition. Munich 1989.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ingo Haar: Theodor Schieder. In: Ingo Haar, Michael Fahlbusch and Matthias Berg (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Völkischen Wissenschaften. Individuals, institutions, research programs, foundations. KG Saur, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-598-11778-7 , p. 625.
  2. a b c Haar: Theodor Schieder , p. 626.
  3. ^ Haar: Theodor Schieder , p. 627; Wolfgang J. Mommsen: "Overturned Monuments"? The "cases" of Aubin, Conze, Erdmann and Schieder. In: Jürgen Elvert, Susanne Krauss (ed.): Historical debates and controversies in the 19th and 20th centuries. Anniversary conference of the Ranke Society in Essen, 2001. Steiner, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 978-3-515-08253-2 (= historical communications of the Ranke Society , vol. 46), p. 103.
  4. Götz Aly: Power - Spirit - Wahn. Continuities of German Thought. Argon, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-87024-361-9 , p. 182.
  5. Quoted from Götz Aly: Macht - Geist - Wahn , Berlin 1997, p. 175 f.
  6. Leo Haupts : The University of Cologne in the transition from National Socialism to the Federal Republic. Böhlau, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-17806-2 , pp. 261-264, 276 f.
  7. Ingo Haar: "Population balances" and "Expulsion losses". On the scientific history of the German victim information from flight and expulsion. In: Josef Ehmer and Rainer Mackensen (eds.): Challenge population. Developments in modern thinking about the population before, during and after the “Third Reich”. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-90653-9 , p. 271.
  8. ^ Ingo Haar: The German "Expulsion losses". On the genesis of the "Documentation of Expulsion". In: José Brunner (Ed.): Demography. Democracy; History; Germany and Israel. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8353-2105-2 (= Tel Aviver yearbook for German history , vol. 35), p. 267.
  9. Thomas Etzemüller: social history as a political story. Werner Conze and the reorientation of West German historical studies after 1945. Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 978-3-486-56581-2 , p. 321 f.
  10. Jin-Sung Chun: The Image of Modernity in the Post-War Period. The West German "structural history" in the field of tension between criticism of modernity and scientific innovation 1948–1962. Oldenbourg, Munich 2000, ISBN 978-3-486-56484-6 , p. 64 f.
  11. Chun: Bild der Moderne , pp. 91 f., 104 f.
  12. Hans-Ulrich Wehler: Review: Jin-Sung Chun, The Image of Modernity in the Post-War Period (PDF) In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , May 2, 2001, p. 66.
  13. Sebastian Conrad : In Search of the Lost Nation. Historiography in West Germany and Japan, 1945–1960. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1999, ISBN 978-3-525-35798-9 , p. 278.
  14. Chun: Bild der Moderne , p. 216.
  15. Peter Schöttler : Review of: Nonn, Christoph: Theodor Schieder. A bourgeois historian in the 20th century. Düsseldorf 2013 . In: H-Soz-u-Kult , December 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Michael Burleigh: Germany Turns Eastwards. A Study of 'Ostforschung' in the Third Reich , Cambridge 1988.
  17. Mommsen: "Overturned Monuments"? P. 103 f.
  18. ^ Andreas Staets, Gerhard Wille: Discussion: "Historians in National Socialism". The long silence about historians under National Socialism. A generation problem or a structural problem? . In: H-Soz-u-Kult , September 21, 1998.
  19. ^ Haar: Theodor Schieder , p. 628.
  20. Götz Aly: Theodor Schieder, Werner Conze or the preliminary stages of physical destruction. In: Winfried Schulze, Otto Gerhard Oexle (Hrsg.): German historians in National Socialism. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-596-14606-2 , p. 177.
  21. Mommsen: "Overturned Monuments"? P. 104 f.
  22. ^ Nonn: Theodor Schieder , p. 119.
  23. Hans-Ulrich Wehler: Historiker in the year zero ( Memento from July 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 43 kB). In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , April 11, 2008.
  24. ^ Haar: Theodor Schieder , p. 629.
  25. ^ Nonn: Theodor Schieder , p. 362.
  26. DNB 14055999X .
  27. DNB 141195665 , received his doctorate in Cologne in 1970 with a work Die Humoristen-Gestalten in Jean Paul's novels. With special consideration of the Schoppe shape. DNB 482537094 .