Ulrich Sonnemann

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Ulrich Sonnemann (born February 3, 1912 in Berlin ; † March 27, 1993 in Obervorschütz near Gudensberg ) was a German philosopher , psychologist and political writer .


Studies and emigration

Sonnemann was born the son of a painter and the head of the Berlin office of the Frankfurter Zeitung in Berlin. His father was a relative of Leopold Sonnemann , the founder of this newspaper. From 1930 Ulrich Sonnemann studied philosophy, psychology, literature and social sciences in Berlin , Freiburg im Breisgau and Frankfurt am Main . Because of his Jewish descent, he was persecuted and interned by the Nazis . 1933, after the coming to power of the Nazis , he fled Germany. He completed his studies in 1934 with the dissertation The Social Thought in the work of HG Wells with Edgar Salin in Basel . He then worked as a journalist in Zurich , where he completed his psychology studies.

In 1940 he was arrested in Brussels and interned in France. In 1941 he managed to escape from the Gurs internment camp to the USA . He taught as a professor of German language and literature before being drafted into the US Army and employed as a clinical psychologist. He then worked as a clinical psychologist, and for a short time he was an associate professor of psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York . In this period, several works were, among others, 1950 Handwriting Analysis as a Psycho Diagnostic Tool ( handwriting analysis in the service of psychodiagnostics ), a widely acclaimed in the US book and 1955. Existence and Therapy (existence and therapy) , an introduction to the phenomenological psychology and Existential analysis.

Political writer and philosopher

In 1955 Sonnemann returned to Germany in order not, as he noted, “to leave the final determination of my relationship to my native country to the Nazis”. From 1958 to 1969, Sonnemann worked as a freelance writer in Munich and as a social philosopher in the vicinity of the Frankfurt School . In his works he devoted himself to the political conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s; he published, among other things, in the political-satirical magazine Der Metzger . Critical publications on the circumstances and conditions in Germany were created. The land of unlimited reasonableness , which appeared in 1963, was noticed in many places. With books like The Exercise of Disobedience in Germany from 1964, How Free Are Our Politicians? from 1968, institutionalism and student opposition from 1968, he actively intervened in the political discussion. His studies on German school books, which were published under the title The Schools of Speechlessness , appeared in 1970.

The judiciary-critical study The West German Dreyfus Scandal ( Dreyfus Affair ) was temporarily banned in 1970. Because he had processed the "statements of the defense agent and confectioner Roger Hentges and his wife", Franz Josef Strauss initiated a nationwide seizure campaign against his book about the Brühne-Ferbach legal case published by Rogner & Bernhard . This led to years of legal dispute with the Bavarian judicial administration.

Sonnemann also processed his experiences from his own reparation proceedings in the volume How free is our justice? - From the system construction of the wickedness , in which he dealt with the role of former Nazi judges in the Federal Republic. With his investigation into the rule of law in German justice , which appeared in 1977 under the title The battered constitutional state , he became a much discussed political writer. With numerous essays and newspaper articles, he repeatedly intervened in Germany's political thinking.

Sonnemann's main philosophical work is Negative Anthropology , published in 1969 . Preliminary studies on the sabotage of fate. It shows his conception as an independent position within critical theory . His central philosophical themes were freedom , truth , spontaneity , the "event" and the difference between history and totality . Due to his tireless criticism of the problematic conditions in Germany, he came into conflict with the state authorities of the Federal Republic at times. Sonnemann's writings have been appearing in a new ten-volume edition since 2005.

University professor in Munich and Kassel

From 1969 to 1974 he was a lecturer at the Munich University of Television and Film . At the same time he was visiting professor at the University of Bremen from 1971 to 1974 . Then he was appointed professor for social philosophy at the University of Kassel . In 1982 Ulrich Sonnemann gave a series of guest lectures at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and made a long, extended trip to America after his lecture period.

Sonnemann taught at the University of Kassel until his death . His last project was studies on transcendental acoustics . He tried to bring out the moving and moving intertwining of time and epochs against the forms of a spatialized idea of ​​time.

In 1988/89, Sonnemann founded the Georg Forster Society and was elected its first chairman.

From 1986 to 1993 the senior residence was the Lauterbacher Hof in Obervorschütz , a district of the Hessian town of Gudensberg . He found his final resting place in Obervorschütz.

The Ulrich Sonnemann Society e. V. is based in Kassel .




  • Existence and Therapy. An Introduction to Phenomenological Psychology and Existential Analysis. Grune & Stratton, New York 1955.
  • The land of unlimited reasonableness. German reflections. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1963. ( No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list from June 12 to July 2, 1963 )
  • The thickets and the signs. Novel. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1963.
  • The practice of disobedience in Germany. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1964.
  • Institutionalism and Student Opposition. Theses on the spread of disobedience in Germany. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1968.
  • Negative anthropology. Preliminary studies on the sabotage of fate. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg, 1969.
  • The German Dreyfus scandal. Breach of law and renunciation of thought in the ten-year-old legal case Brühne -Ferbach. Epilogue Sieghart Ott. Rogner & Bernhard, Munich 1970, ISBN 3-920802-38-1 . (confiscated)
  • The schools of speechlessness. German lessons in the Federal Republic. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1970.
  • The critical waking dream. German Revolutionary Literature from the Jacobins to the Forty-Eight. Kreisselmeier, Icking 1971.
  • Tunnel pricks. Speeches, notes and essays. Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-610-00731-1 .
  • A nervous adder gaits at the new moon. Volts and extensions. Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-610-04691-0 .
  • with Paul Fiebig: Mountains of rubbish of forgetting. Eleven objections. Metzler, Stuttgart 1995.
  • Graphology. Handwriting as a mirror, irrationalism in conflict (= writings. Volume 1). First volume of the ten-volume edition. Lüneburg 2005, ISBN 3-934920-61-6 .


  • with Martin Löffler : Lord Dennings Report on the Profumo case or The Functioning Democracy. The official report from the British government. Submitted to Parliament by the Prime Minister on behalf of Her Majesty in September 1963. Bechtle, Munich 1963/1964
  • How free are our politicians? Ten publicists answer. Kindler, Munich 1968.
  • with Christoph Nix : The past that never ended. Power frenzy, business and constitutional treason in the Brühne-Ferbach judicial scandal. Focus, Giessen 1985, ISBN 3-88349-324-4 .
  • with Dietmar Kamper : Atlantis, for example. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1986, ISBN 3-472-61657-1 .


  • Theodor W. Adorno and Ulrich Sonnemann: Correspondence 1957–1969 . Edited and commented by Martin Mettin and Tobias Heinze. In: Journal of Critical Theory . Volume 25, No. 48/49, 2019, pp. 167-222.


  • Gottfried Heinemann, Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik (ed.): Sabotage of fate. For Ulrich Sonnemann. Tübingen 1982.
  • Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik (ed.): Objections of critical philosophy. Small commemorative publication for Ulrich Sonnemann. With a complete list of publications and a tabular curriculum vitae of Ulrich Sonnemann. Kassel Philosophical Writings, Kassel 1992.
  • Sabine Gürtler (Ed.): Spontaneity and Process. On Current Critical Theory. Hamburg 1992.
  • Diethelm Class (ed.): Unheard of - glosses on Ulrich Sonnemann. Wuerzburg 1996.
  • C.-V. Klenke, JG Lehrmann, M. Schafstedde, W. Schmied-Kowarzik, R.-P. Warsitz: Existence, negativity and criticism in Ulrich Sonnemann. Würzburg 1999.
  • Paul Fiebig:  Sonnemann, Ulrich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 24, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-428-11205-0 , pp. 574-576 ( digitized version ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Date: April 6, 1970 Betr. Right . In: Der Spiegel . No. 15 , 1970 ( online - April 6, 1970 ).
  2. Ulrich Sun man . In: Der Spiegel . No. 14 , 1993 ( online - April 5, 1993 ).
  3. georg-forster-gesellschaft.de