Wilhelm Emrich

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Wilhelm Emrich (born November 29, 1909 in Nieder-Jeutz , Reichsland Alsace-Lorraine , German Empire ; † August 7, 1998 in Berlin ) was a German literary scholar and editor.


Wilhelm Emrich, son of a Reichsbahn chief secretary, studied in Frankfurt am Main from 1929 to 1933, among others under Theodor W. Adorno , and received his doctorate in 1933 with Martin Sommerfeld , who had to emigrate in the same year, with a thesis on Paul. Before the handover of power to the National Socialists in 1933, Emrich was a member of the “ Red Student Group ” and the SAP . Later Emrich worked mainly on Goethe , in the post-war period on Franz Kafka . His monograph on Kafka saw several editions and was translated into English and Japanese. Emrich published complete editions by Carl Sternheim , Arno Holz and Ricarda Huch .

During the time of National Socialism , Emrich worked as a lecturer at the German Academy in Bulgaria, among other places. At the end of 1938 he was employed as a teacher and between 1942 and 1944 he worked for the Reich Propaganda Ministry . From January 5, 1942, he headed the so-called exploratory department that was newly established at the Deutsche Bücherei . There he monitored, among other things, the German-language new publications and was in charge of the so-called Jewish bibliography , which has been in progress since 1941 . From February 1, 1943, he worked in the literature department of the Reich Propaganda Ministry, which he left in 1944.

Emrich had been a member of the NSDAP since 1935 and had been cell leader from 1941. He was the author of at least one anti-Semitic book. At the same time, he took the second state examination as a teacher and, after a failed attempt in Frankfurt am Main, obtained his habilitation at the Berlin University in 1944. His role during the Nazi regime only became known to a broader public shortly before Emrich's death through the novel by the key, The Urfreund of his former fellow student and friend Kurt A. Mautz . Because of his essay published in 1943 on the "incursion of Judaism into scientific and technical thinking", Emrich came under criticism in his later years.

After the Second World War , Emrich initially worked in school and then taught from 1949 to 1953 as a lecturer at the Georg-August University in Göttingen . He successfully passed the arbitration chamber procedure for denazification by pointing out his resistance to National Socialism in the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

He held his first professorship for modern German philology from 1953 to 1959 at the University of Cologne . In 1956 he became a member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature and two years later a member of the PEN Center . From 1960 until his retirement he taught as professor for modern German literary history at the Free University of Berlin . After that, he taught for eight years as a professor emeritus. Emrich was one of the most important and influential literary scholars in the Federal Republic of Germany. His students included Helmut Arntzen , Klaus Wagenbach , Jean Firges and Karl Pestalozzi . Emrich was awarded the Golden Goethe Medal by the Goethe Society Weimar in 1993 .


Emrich had a son, Hinderk Meiners Emrich , with his first wife Lina Helene, née Hinderks (1902–1993) . In 1977 he married his second wife Waltraut Hildegard, née Schmidt (1911–1979).


  • Paul in the drama. (= Material and motif history of German literature. Volume 13). Walter de Gruyter publishing house, Berlin 1934.
  • The symbolism of Faust II. Sense and pre-forms. Junker & Dünnhaupt, Berlin 1943.
  • Franz Kafka. Athenäum-Verlag, Bonn 1958.
  • Protest and promise. Studies of Classical and Modern Poetry. Athenäum-Verlag, Bonn 1960.
  • Ghost and ghost. Truth and Lies of Literature. Studies. Athenaeum publishing house, Frankfurt am Main 1965.
  • Polemic. Polemics, press feuds and critical essays on principles, methods and standards of literary criticism. Athenäum-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1968.
  • Poetic Reality. Studies on classical and modern. Academic Publishing Society Athenaion, Wiesbaden 1979, ISBN 3-7997-0737-9 .
  • German literature of the baroque period. Athenäum-Verlag, Königstein 1981, ISBN 3-7610-8148-0 .


  • Arno Holz: Works. 7 volumes. Edited by Wilhelm Emrich and Anita Holz. Luchterhand publishing house, Neuwied 1961–1964.
  • Carl Sternheim: Complete Works. 10 in 11 volumes. Published by Wilhelm Emrich. Luchterhand publishing house, Neuwied 1963–1976.
  • Ricarda Huch: Collected Works. 11 volumes. Published by Wilhelm Emrich. Publishing house Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1966–1974.


  • Lorenz Jäger : Wilhelm Emrich (1909–1998). In: Christoph König, Hans-Harald Müller, Werner Röcke (Hrsg.): Scientific history of German studies in portraits. de Gruyter, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-11-016157-5 , pp. 250-258.
  • Norbert Miller: Obituary for Wilhelm Emrich. In: Yearbook of the Academy of Sciences and Literature. 49th year, 1998, pp. 105-109.
  • Peter Sprengel : Wilhelm Emrich. In: Christoph König , Birgit Wägenbaur u. a. (Ed.): Internationales Germanistenlexikon 1800–1950 . Volume 1: A-G. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-015485-4 , pp. 433-435.
  • Peter Sprengel: Metaphysical Modernism. Wilhelm Emrich's Kafka picture and its requirements. In: Julia Bertschik, Elisabeth Emter, Johannes Graf (Eds.): Productivity of the Opposite. Studies on the literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Festschrift for Horst Denkler on his 65th birthday. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2000, ISBN 3-484-10826-6 , pp. 275-288.
  • Jörg Schönert, Ralf Klausnitzer, Wilhelm Schernus (eds.): Wilhelm Emrich - on the life story of a humanities scholar before, during and after the Nazi era.
    • Volume 1 1929–1945: the career of a "spiritual person" within the spectrum of influence of academic, professional and political institutions (= contributions to the history of German studies. Volume 9). S. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 3-7776-2655-4 .
    • Volume 2: 1945–1959: Wilhelm Emrichs modeling of his academic existence (= contributions to the history of German studies. Volume 10). S. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 3-7776-2656-2 .

Web links


  1. ^ Lorenz Jäger: Wilhelm Emrich (1909-1998). In: Christoph König, Hans-Harald Müller, Werner Röcke (Hrsg.): Scientific history of German studies in portraits. Berlin 2000, pp. 250-251.
  2. ^ A b c Ralf Klausnitzer : Victory of the careerists. In: Friday . July 21, 2016, p. 17.
  3. Sören Flachowsky: " Armory for the swords of the spirit". The Deutsche Bücherei during the Nazi era. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-8353-3196-9 , p. 1112.
  4. ^ The intrusion of Judaism into scientific and technical thinking. In: The German specialist literature. Issue 4-6, 1943, pp. 1 ff.
  5. Kurt Mautz : The Urfreund. Igel-Verlag, Paderborn 1996.
  6. ^ Ernst Klee : The culture 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.
  7. Barbara Hölscher: Frankfurt literary scholar: Wilhelm Emrich , USE project of the Goethe University Frankfurt