Walter Robert-Tornow

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Walter Heinrich Robert-tornow (born July 14, 1852 in Ruhnow , Pomerania , † September 17, 1895 in Helgoland ) was a German librarian and translator.

After the death of his uncle Ferdinand Robert-Tornow, the great-nephew Rahel Varnhagens lived in his house on Johannisstrasse in Berlin until he found accommodation there as the librarian of the Berlin City Palace.


Walter Robert- Tornow was born on the estate of his father, Gustav Robert-Tornow (April 15, 1822–1888), in Ruhnow in Western Pomerania. His mother was the sister of the builder Albrecht Türrschmiedts . Walter's father, a trained farmer, acquired two estates in the Pomeranian district of Regenwalde after extensive travels in Europe and made them model estates . At times he was a member of the state parliament and devoted himself to his intellectual interests, as evidenced by an extensive library.

This library was the educational basis of his son Walter, who was handicapped in his growth as a three-year-old child after an accident and could not attend a public school. For this reason, he was unable to complete a regular course of study.

However, he attended philological and art-historical lectures at the University of Berlin, e. B. with Moriz Haupt , Theodor Mommsen , Ernst Curtius and with Herman Grimm , with whom he was friends. He also pursued drawing studies at the Berlin Art Academy, but saw literature as his main field of activity.

In 1880, after the death of his mother, he moved with his father to Berlin to the house of his deceased uncle Ferdinand Robert-Tornow (October 18, 1812 - September 13, 1875).

From April 1, 1888 he lived and worked as head of the house library of Emperor Friedrich III. († June 15, 1888) in the "White Palace" in Berlin. He died on September 17, 1895 at the age of 43 on the island of Helgoland, where he was taking a cure.

He found his grave in the 2nd Dorotheenstadt cemetery in Liesenstrasse . The tomb, a plaque set into the cemetery wall, has not been preserved. A replica has since been made by descendants - just like the grave site of his uncle Ferdinand Robert-Tornow - and placed in the original places in the cemetery wall. The two tombs mark a line of graves in which members of four generations of the Robert-Tornow family were buried, from his grandfather Moritz, Rahel's brother, to Dr. Gustav Robert-Tornow, a nephew of Walter.


Winged Words , 19th edition, 1898

After Georg Büchmann's death on February 24, 1884, he published the 14th to 18th editions of the Winged Words , added 730 new ones and systematized the treasure trove of quotations. With these five editions, the total print run of the work increased from 57,000 to over 100,000 copies.

His translation of Michelangelo Buonarroti's poems , which had preoccupied him for the last six years of his life, was published posthumously in 1896, edited by Georg Thouret. Hugo Wolf received a copy in December 1896 and set three poems to music by the end of March 1897; he destroyed a fourth setting ( "Gliding to the beauty of my eyes" ).


Walter Heinrich Robert-Tornow was a great-grandson of the Berlin banker Marcus Levin Cohn (November 2, 1723 - February 8, 1790), whose descendants were named Robert-Tornow from 1811. To distinguish it from the French-born Robert family from Berlin , Tornow pointed to the former residence of the Levin-Robert family near Berlin , but was left out by most of the children. B. by Ludwig Robert and Rahel Robert (married Varnhagen von Ense).

The oldest son, the banker Marcus Theodor (born June 3, 1772), and the youngest Moritz / Meier (July 1785 - 1846), the grandfather of Walter Robert-Tornow, kept the name Robert-Tornow. The librarian Walter preferred the lower case for the second part of the family name, "because this makes it clearer than the hyphens alone that Robert should not be understood as a first name and that the name can only be rubricirized under 'R'".


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