Werner Emmerich

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Werner Emmerich (born June 26, 1908 in Mölkau near Leipzig , † January 28, 1968 in Bayreuth ) was a German historian .


Werner Emmerich grew up in Mölkau- Zweinaundorf in the milieu of a middle-class family whose national-conservative attitude strongly influenced him. The connection to his hometown proved to be trend-setting for all of his research, from studies to doctorate .

After acquiring the qualification to teach at public elementary schools at the teachers' seminar in Leipzig- Connewitz , where he had previously passed his matriculation examination, he enrolled in the subjects of history, German studies and Protestant religious studies at the University of Leipzig in the summer semester of 1928 . Since the summer of 1928 Emmerich had been a corporation student of the Leipzig University Choir of St. Pauli ( German Choir ) and was involved in student politics, but was not one of the first group of student activists.

Since he did not join the NSDAP until May 1, 1933 and the SA on July 15, 1933 , he was long held against the fact that he had been against the Nazi takeover until the end . In 1934 he was taken on as a history consultant in the active service of the SA, but was again released from this task as he could not withstand the triple burden of legal clerkship, assistant work and his own research. In the following years he was involved in the NSLB and as head of press and propaganda for the NSV in Mölkau. In 1937 he married Elisabeth Heldt. The marriage had two children.

Work as a historian until 1945

Werner Emmerich was already an assistant at the seminar for regional and settlement history at the University of Leipzig in 1930. After completing the state examination, the preparatory service for a higher teaching post and the clerkship, as well as parallel to the preparation of his doctoral thesis, he became Rudolf Kötzschke's assistant at the same seminar in 1934 . Emmerich's research focus was initially his home in Mölkau. In the end, however, he expanded his area of ​​interest to include the entire east of Germany, especially the medieval colonization of the east and the history of settlements.

In Kötzschke's seminar it was the task to legitimize the term borderland Saxony . The corresponding publications called for a completely new view of history under ethnic auspices. While Emmerich's contributions to this through a very military sound, culturally and historically justified Slavism award and the presentation of Germany as a bearer of culture and arranging power, are the publications for his literature such. B. “The German East”, which can still be read today as a useful introduction, initially free of back projections from the Nazi present.

After Kötzschke's retirement in 1935, Emmerich was involved in the “North and East German Research Association” founded by Kötzschke, which dealt with the “ Wendefrage ”, and fell out with his successor Adolf Helbok . Thereupon he resigned from the assistant position and took up a position as acting lecturer for “German history, prehistory and methodology of history teaching” at the University of Teacher Training in Bayreuth. Furthermore, he took part in the large-scale project “Cultural Areas and Cultural Movements in the Central German East” led by Kötzschke. Werner Emmerich completed his habilitation shortly before his post in 1942 at the University of Graz.

Emmerich's role in National Socialist Germany

Werner Emmerich was an employee in the SD security service and thus in the RSHA . How exactly Emmerich found the security service is incomprehensible. It is documented that he was employed as a volunteer employee in the section for culture and science in Bayreuth since November 1937. It can be assumed, however, that he was approached by the SD during his time in Saxony and became an informant for the security service. He was assigned to Amt III, “German Areas of Life” and here to the “Science and Education” section.

In 1941 Emmerich gained full membership in the SD and thus also in the SS , in which he also had authority. From November 1944 he was SS- Obersturmführer .

From May 1942, after several inquiries, he was given leave of absence from his teaching post in Bayreuth for the remainder of the war in order to take part in the RSHA's Eastern Service, for which he had volunteered in 1941. He was employed in Amt III, Einsatzgruppe D "Economy", which had already advanced to the Crimea . In July Emmerich reached the group that by the end of January had murdered over 85,000 Jews and Communists in their advance. The task force came to a standstill in September on the Elburs Mountains due to strong resistance from the Red Army and moved into permanent quarters.

Then the annihilation of Jewish communities began. Whether Emmerich took part in the shootings and gassings in the eastern areas can be assumed, but not proven.

Originally assigned to study the Caucasian ethnic groups, Emmerich also had other activities on site. He is also said to have been involved in various art thefts , the selection of Soviet intellectuals and the opening of schools and kindergartens for children “capable of Germanization”.

After the final defeat of the Einsatzgruppe at the end of May 1943, Emmerich was summoned to the RSHA in August, since he had proven himself well in the field, and belonged to the closest circle of the ruling apparatus. From February 1944 he headed Section III C of the SD Section Braunschweig until the end of the war and worked at Office VII “Opponent Research”.

Emmerich's role after 1945

Werner Emmerich succeeded in continuing his academic career relatively smoothly after 1945. After the end of the National Socialist regime, Emmerich was arrested by the US Army and taken to an internment camp in Nuremberg- Langwasser .

His hearing took place on October 27, 1947. In this he described himself as an opponent of the regime, claimed to have only found out about the crimes of the SS after the war and had only joined the SD to secure his professional career. The court did not believe him, he was classified in category II guilt (accused). He lost his civil rights and, above all, was no longer allowed to work as a teacher, lecturer or in any other managerial position.

It was only during the restoration in the Konrad Adenauer era that Emmerich was downgraded to Category IV (fellow traveler) and rehabilitated.

1951 Emmerich got his civil servant status back. After several submissions to the Bavarian Ministry of Culture, he was only given a position at the Bayreuth "German Gymnasium" in 1954, and in 1956 he was appointed to the faculty there. After further complaints on his part, he became rector / founding board member of the "Pädagogische Hochschule Bayreuth" and associate professor in 1958. In 1961 the Ministry made him a full professor. In Bayreuth he then published again on the medieval settlement history and is still considered a traditional bearer of settlement history in the style of Rudolf Kötzschke, mainly due to the field and street research.

On January 28, 1968, Emmerich died unexpectedly in Bayreuth at the age of 59. His guilt for aiding and abetting in the mass murder could not be proven until his death, whereupon the investigations of the Munich public prosecutor were stopped.

Works (selection)

  • The German East. The colonizing achievement of the German people in the Middle Ages , Leipzig 1935.
  • The rural property of the Leipzig council. Development, management and administration up to the 18th century , Haessel -Leipzig 1936. (also dissertation)
  • With Erich Rosenbaum: Mölkau-Zweinaundorf. A local history , Mölkau 1937 (publisher of the community). Was placed on the list of literature to be segregated in the Soviet occupation zone after the end of World War II .
  • From country and culture: Contributions to the history of the Central German East. Festschrift for the 70th birthday of Rudolf Kötzschke , Leipzig 1937. (Editor Werner Emmerich)
  • From Nicholas to the Three Kings. Folklore about Christmas time (local supplement to the official school gazette of the administrative district of Upper Franconia No. 14), 1964.


  • Ernst Klee : The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 135.
  • Carsten Schreiber: The 'Eastern Colonizations' of SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Werner Emmerich. As a regional and settlement historian in Leipzig, Bayreuth and Voroshilovsk. In: New Archive for Saxon History 77 (2006), pp. 119–173.
  • Carsten Schreiber: As a historian for the SS in the “eastern deployment”. The regional and settlement historian Werner Emmerich (1908–1968) as a representative of the generation of objectivity. In: Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 141/142 (2005/2006), pp. 449–473.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Complete directory of the Paulines from summer 1822 to summer 1938, Leipzig 1938, page 171
  2. http://www.polunbi.de/bibliothek/1948-nslit-e.html