Walter Schlesinger

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Walter Friedrich Schlesinger (born April 28, 1908 in Glauchau ; † June 10, 1984 in Wolfshausen , municipality of Weimar (Lahn) ) was a German historian of state and constitutional history .


Born and raised in Glauchau as the son of a senior teacher, Schlesinger passed his school leaving examination in 1927 at the secondary school there. He then took up studies in history , German , folklore and philosophy at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen , but after four semesters he switched to the University of Leipzig , where Rudolf Kötzschke became his formative academic teacher. Schlesinger was in 1934 in Leipzig with a thesis on the history of Nice Freiburgische land doctorate and laid a year later the state exam from. His plans in the country's history specialist to habilitieren time being to give up, had to Schlesinger because he differences with Kötzschkes successor, the Austrian Nazi Historian Adolf Helbok in respect of which Nazi ethnic and racial doctrine had. Schlesinger had been a member of the NSDAP since 1929 , but his doubts about this decision increased soon after he came to power . From 1936 onwards, Schlesinger was assistant to the medieval historian Hermann Heimpel in Leipzig, where in 1940 he submitted his habilitation thesis on fundamental questions of medieval constitutional history. After Helbok left Leipzig, Schlesinger was appointed to Kötzschke's former professorship for German national and national history in November 1942, but was only able to begin teaching after a long hospital stay in the summer of 1944. During the Second World War , he also worked on the Nazi project war mission of the humanities . Because of his party membership, Schlesinger was dismissed from college in November 1945.

Since no other university in the Soviet occupation zone opened up career prospects for Schlesinger in the following years, he finally made the decision in November 1951 to move to West Germany . He first settled in Marburg , where he had worked at the Research Center for Urban History from 1952 . After taking up positions at the Free University of Berlin (1954) and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main (1959), Schlesinger held the chair for Medieval History at the Philipps University in Marburg from 1964 until his retirement in 1973 . Here he worked closely with the medieval historian Helmut Beumann and was also significantly involved in the establishment of the research center for historical regional studies of Central Germany , which was incorporated into the Hessian State Office for Historical Regional Studies in 1962 . A serious illness prevented Schlesinger's further scientific activity since 1976. He died in Wolfshausen in 1984 and was buried in the main cemetery in Marburg.

Research activity

Schlesinger was best known for his numerous fundamental contributions to medieval constitutional and regional history . Even if he is one of the most important and influential teachers of medieval history because of his work, he is not without controversy because of his activities under National Socialism and his theories on the predominance of Germanic culture in the Middle Ages . The volume he edited, Die deutsche Ostsiedlung des Mittelalters als Problem der Europäische Geschichte (1975), which initiated a paradigm shift in the view of the German Ostsiedlung, was of particular importance .

Schlesinger was a member of the Constance working group for medieval history . He was also appointed a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 1963 . Since 1970 he has been a corresponding member of the Historical Commission for Westphalia , since 1971 also a full member of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen . In 1983 he was awarded the Brothers Grimm Prize from the Philipps University of Marburg .


  • The Schönburgische Lande until the end of the Middle Ages (= writings for local research. Vol. 2, ZDB -ID 1113572-4 ). Limpert, Dresden 1935 (at the same time: Leipzig, university, dissertation, 1935).
  • The emergence of sovereignty. Investigations mainly based on Central German sources (= Saxon research on history. Vol. 1, ZDB -ID 844895-4 ). Vol. 1. Baensch, Dresden 1941, (several reprints).
  • The beginnings of the city of Chemnitz and other central German cities. Studies of royalty and cities during the 12th century. Böhlau, Weimar 1952.
  • The sovereignty of the Lords of Schönburg. A study on the history of the state in Germany (= sources and studies on the constitutional history of the German Empire in the Middle Ages and Modern Times. Vol. 9, 1, ISSN  0863-0836 ). Böhlau, Münster et al. 1954.
  • About early Central European urban landscapes. In: sheets for German national history . Vol. 93, 1957, pp. 15-42, ( digitized version ).
  • Central German contributions to the German constitutional history of the Middle Ages. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1961.
  • Church history of Saxony in the Middle Ages (= Central German Research. Vol. 27, 1-2, ISSN  0544-5957 ). 2 volumes, Vol. 1: From the beginning of church proclamation to the end of the investiture controversy. Vol. 2: The Age of the German East Settlement (1100-1300) . Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1962.
  • Contributions to the German constitutional history of the Middle Ages. 2 volumes, Vol. 1: Germanic, Franconian, German. Vol. 2: Cities and Territories. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1963.
  • as editor: Handbook of Historic Places in Germany . Vol. 8: Saxony (= Kröner's pocket edition . Vol. 312). Kröner, Stuttgart 1965.
  • Klaus Flink and Franz Petri : On the creation of a historical local dictionary. Report on the Colloquium for the Processing of Historical Local Lexicons. In: sheets for German national history . Vol. 102, 1966, pp. 69-82, ( digitized version ).
  • For Rudolf Kötzschke's hundredth birthday. In: sheets for German national history. Vol. 103, 1967, pp. 85-86, ( digitized ).
  • as editor: The German Eastern Settlement of the Middle Ages as a Problem of European History. Reichenau lectures 1970–1972 (= Constance working group for medieval history. Lectures and research. Vol. 18). Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1975, ISBN 3-7995-6618-X .


  • Helmut Beumann (ed.): Historical research for Walter Schlesinger. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1974, ISBN 3-412-10474-4 ( table of contents ).
  • Helmut Beumann (Ed.): Festschrift for Walter Schlesinger (= Central German Research. Vol. 74, 1–2). 2 volumes. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1973–1974, ISBN 3-412-84973-1 (vol. 1), ISBN 3-412-85074-8 , (vol. 2), ( table of contents ).
  • Karl Bosl : Walter Schlesinger April 28, 1908– June 10, 1984. In: Bavarian Academy of Sciences , Yearbook 1984, Munich 1984, pp. 241–243.
  • Enno Bünz : Schlesinger, Friedrich Walter. In: Saxon Biography . Online edition (March 31, 2008).
  • Michael Gockel:  Schlesinger, Friedrich Walter. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 23, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3 , p. 65 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Klaus Neitmann : A scientific answer to the political challenge of divided Germany and Europe. Walter Schlesinger, the east (middle) German national history and the German east research. In: Enno Bünz (Ed.): 100 Years of State History (1906–2006). Leipzig achievements, entanglements and effects (= writings on Saxon history and folklore. Vol. 38). Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2012, ISBN 978-3-86583-618-2 , pp. 225–284.
  • Hans K. Schulze : Walter Schlesinger April 28, 1908 - June 10, 1984. [Obituary]. In: Journal for East Research . Vol. 33, 1984, pp. 227-243.
  • Hans K. Schulze: In memory of Walter Schlesinger April 28, 1908 - June 10, 1984. In: New archive for Saxon history . Vol. 65, 1994, pp. 9-26.
  • Anne Chr. Nagel : In the shadow of the Third Reich. Medieval research in the Federal Republic of Germany 1945-1970 (= forms of memory. Vol. 24). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-525-35583-1 (at the same time: Gießen, Universität, habilitation paper, 2003).
  • Hugo Weczerka : Prof. D. Dr. Dr. hc Walter Schlesinger (1908–1984). [Obituary]. In: Southeast German Archive. Vol. 26/27, 1983/1984, ISSN  0081-9085 , pp. 181-182.
  • Steffen Winkler : Another appreciation - Prof. D. Dr. phil. Dr. jur. hc Walter Schlesinger in memory. In: Robby Joachim Götze: Museum and Art Collection Schloss Hinterglauchau (= series of publications. Issue 9). City of Glauchau 1992, pp. 41-48.

Web links


  1. ^ Enno Bünz : Schlesinger, Friedrich Walter. In: Saxon Biography . Online edition (March 31, 2008).
  2. ^ Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 (= Fischer. 16048). Updated edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-16048-0 , p. 539.