Walther Killy

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Walther Killy (born August 26, 1917 in Bonn , † December 28, 1995 in Kampen (Sylt) ) was a German literary scholar . He became known through the publication of the Killy literary lexicon and the German Biographical Encyclopedia .


During his time as a soldier of the Wehrmacht , which he spent mainly in France, Killy and his father suggested Leo Killy in winter 1940/41 Julius Petersen and Friedrich Beißner - then at the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar - a historical critical Hölderlin edition. At that time Killy was working on his doctoral thesis The Tradition of the Poems of Holderlin with Petersen. In the autumn of 1942 , he completed his habilitation in Tübingen , and Beißner began work in time for the anniversary year of 1943. Since Hölderlin was valued during the National Socialist era , this company received broad state funding.

After being a prisoner of war in Trinidad (Colorado) , he received his doctorate on March 19, 1948 at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen with the thesis Image and Mythe in Holderlin's Poems . Three years later he completed his habilitation at the Free University of Berlin with a textual review of Hyperion (Hölderlin) . In 1955 he received a professorship for German studies at the FU. In 1961 he moved to the Georg-August University in Göttingen . Elected rector for the academic year 1967/68 , he spoke in his rectorate speech about poems by the young Bertolt Brecht . In 1966 he was elected a full member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences .

From 1968 to 1970 he was chairman of the founding committee of the University of Bremen (founding rector). In 1971 he went to the University of Bern . In 1969 he was visiting professor at the University of California and Harvard University . From 1978 to 1985 he was director of the research program at the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel. Since 1979 he has been a full member of the Braunschweig Scientific Society . He was awarded the Lower Saxony Prize for Journalism (1983) and the Sigmund Freud Prize for scientific prose (1990).

Killy died on Sylt at the age of 78 .

The University Library of Magdeburg acquired Killy's private library in 1996 . This special collection comprises 6,414 titles from the years 1557–1995. Part of the Killy library is one of the most valuable Paul Celan collections in Europe with many dedicatory copies and a copy of the first edition Poetic Woods (1698) by Christian Gryphius . All publications of this library can be viewed here , in the catalog of the Magdeburg University Library.


Walther Killy was the editor of many compendia and anthologies as well as the initiator and organizer of encyclopedias, including Bertelsmann's literary dictionary , known as "Der Killy". A completely revised new edition has been published by Verlag Walter de Gruyter since 2008 . Killy also worked on the Stuttgart Hölderlin edition published by Friedrich Beißner and co- edited the works of Georg Trakl .



  • Memories of France in the war years 1942-44 / Walther Killy; Anton Lüpkes; Wilhelmine Siefkes; typewritten manuscript
  • About the later Holderlin's view of history . Handwriting. Trinidad (Colorado) 1945 (size: 39 pages)
  • Image and myth <variant: myth> in Hölderlin's poems . Phil. Diss. Tübingen [Maschinenschr.] 1948
  • General studies and student community life. A report is made using local surveys by Rolf Hildebrandt and Hans Lades. Berlin, Duncker & Humblot 1952.
  • Changes in the lyrical image . Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1956 (later edition: ISBN 3-525-34008-7 ).
  • About Georg Trakl . Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960.
  • German kitsch. An experiment with examples . Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1961 (later edition: ISBN 3-525-33181-9 ).
  • Reality and Artistic Character. 9 novels of the 19th century . Munich: Beck, 1963.
  • About poems by the young Brecht . Rector's speech. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967.
  • Educational issues . Munich: Beck, 1971. ISBN 3-406-02476-9 .
  • Elements of lyric . Second, revised edition. Munich: Beck, 1972, ISBN 3-406-01735-5 [first edition 1972; New edition: Munich: dtv, 1983, ISBN 3-423-04417-9 ].
  • Notations - ways of reading . Munich: Beck, 1982. ISBN 3-406-09086-9 .
  • From Berlin to Wandsbek. Twelve chapters of German civil culture around 1800 . Munich: Beck, 1996. ISBN 3-406-40391-3 .


  • Sign of time. A German reading book in 4 volumes . Frankfurt a. M .; Hamburg: Fischer library, 1958–1962.
  • together with Wolf-Hartmut Friedrich : Das Fischer-Lexikon . Part 34: Literature 1. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verl., 1964.
  • together with Hans Szklenar: Georg Trakl : Dichtungen und Letters . Salzburg: O. Müller, 1970.
  • German reading book: A reading book in 5 volumes. Frankfurt a. M., Hamburg: Fischer-Bücherei, 1970.
  • Epochs of German Poetry (10 volumes). Munich: dtv, 1974–1977.
  • German literature. Texts and certificates (7 volumes). Munich: Beck, 1967–1988.
  • Literary dictionary. Authors and works in German (15 volumes). Gütersloh, Munich: Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Verl., 1988–1991 (CD-ROM: Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-932544-13-7 ).
  • together (from volume 4) with Rudolf Vierhaus : Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie. 13 volumes, Munich a. a .: Saur, 1995-2003. ISBN 3-598-23160-1 .


  • Ernst-Peter Wieckenberg: Killy, (Hans) Walther (Theodor Maria). In: German Biographical Encyclopedia . Volume 5 Hitz - Kozub. Saur, Munich 2006, p. 626.
  • Wolfgang Adam: Library as an organism. The Killy Library and the Ute and Wolframm Neumann Foundation in the Magdeburg University Library, in: Magdeburger Wissenschaftsjournal 9 (2004), no. 2, pp. 55-65, see here .

Web links


  1. ^ Norbert Oellers : Friedrich Beißner (1905–1977). In: Christoph König , Hans-Harald Müller , Werner Röcke (Hrsg.): Scientific history of German studies in portraits. Berlin 2000, pp. 228-234, here: pp. 229 f.
  2. Rector's speeches (HKM)
  3. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 131.
  4. Killy versus Wikipedia? , Article on boersenblatt.net from September 5, 2008