Wilhelm Ganzhorn

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Memorial plaque for Wilhelm Ganzhorn at the former Neckarsulm Higher Regional Court

Wilhelm Christian Ganzhorn (born January 14, 1818 in Böblingen ; † September 9, 1880 in Cannstatt ) was a lawyer and court actuary in Neuenbürg and chief magistrate in Aalen , Neckarsulm and Cannstatt . He is known as the author of the text for the song In the Most Beautiful Wiesengrunde , which was originally called The Silent Valley .


Childhood and school

House of the Ganzhorn family in Sindelfingen (in 1967), formerly Stuttgarter Str. 1

Wilhelm Ganzhorn was born on January 14, 1818 in Böblingen as the son of Johann Georg Ganzhorn and his second wife Catharina Margaretha (née Maisch). His father was a caste manager (Schloss Vogt ) in Böblingen Castle. He grew up in Böblingen and from 1822 in Sindelfingen with two brothers and three sisters from his father's first marriage. In 1826 his father bought the property at Stuttgarter Strasse 1 in Sindelfingen (later Vaihinger Strasse 1), where Ganzhorn spent his childhood and youth.

In Sindelfingen he also attended the Latin school and showed himself to be musically gifted there. From spring 1832 to autumn 1836 Ganzhorn went to the upper secondary school in Stuttgart; the later Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium . During his school days he took an interest in the theater, read Shakespeare and wrote about 200 poems from 1833 to 1836. Already at this time he showed himself to be a soulful romantic . His father's wish to become a pastor , he was unable to follow due to his poor performance in Hebrew . In 1836 he passed the "Examination for Academic Studies in Law ".

Studied in Tübingen and Heidelberg

From the summer semester of 1837 to 1839, Ganzhorn studied law at the University of Tübingen . During these three years of study, around 140 poems were written, including love poems and natural poetry. In May 1840 he started his 7th semester at the University of Heidelberg .

During this time he undertook a trip down the Rhine in June 1840 . Wilhelm Ganzhorn got to know the poet Ferdinand Freiligrath in an inn while having a happy group. A lifelong and close friendship developed with him. After the summer semester of 1840 in Heidelberg , Ganzhorn retired to the parsonage in Sindelfingen to prepare for the exams. In June 1841 he passed his first legal examination and in November 1842 the second higher service examination and thus had the qualification for judicial office .

In January 1841 the "Swabian Folk Songbook" was published with around 200 songs that Ganzhorn had collected and put together. Authors were among others Ludwig Uhland , Justinus Kerner and Friedrich Schiller . Many of these songs are still sung today, which speaks for the goodness of the selection.

Professional activity and political activities

Backnang and Neuenbürg

On January 9, 1843, Ganzhorn began his professional activity as an assistant at the Higher Regional Court of Backnang . On August 29, 1844, he was appointed court actuary, that is, the second judge in the Higher Regional Court, in Neuenbürg . As such, he was an assistant to the chief magistrate and at the same time his legal representative.

Political activities in the Vormärz and in the 1848 revolution

The first political poems were written in December 1840, and in early 1846 political poems by Ganzhorn were published in the New Citizen Official Gazette. Ganzhorn was active politically in the revolutionary years of 1848/1849 . He was instrumental in the election campaign for the election of Karl Mathy as a member of the Frankfurt National Assembly .

On June 3, 1848, a Patriotic District Association was founded in Neuenbürg, in which Ganzhorn was secretary . In April 1848 he had politically stood for the constitutional monarchy with a strong central power. That changed when Robert Blum was shot on November 9, 1848 after conquering Vienna . Ganzhorn sided with the left revolutionaries, who advocated a democratic-parliamentary republic with universal and direct suffrage . However, he was not in favor of the forcible introduction of the republic, but for its establishment within the framework of the law.

Application as city school in Sindelfingen

After the death of the Sindelfingen city school in November 1849, Ganzhorn also applied for this office on January 10, 1850. However, his democratic and liberal sentiments were interpreted to the disadvantage, so that he was defeated by the conservative competitor, the assistant court clerk of Böblingen, Gottfried Frank.

Then Ganzhorn changed his political stance and issued a declaration of allegiance to the existing monarchy and the government. The reasons for this change of heart are probably also to be found in the lost election to the mayor of Sindelfingen. He was realistic enough to realize that he could not be successful with his previous attitude and that his attitude towards the king would stand in the way of his further professional career. He also anticipated the time of reaction and measures to clean up the civil servants.

Church in Feldrennach
Gasthof "Rössle" in Conweiler

Chief magistrate in Aalen, marriage to Luise Alber

On May 26, 1854, Ganzhorn was first provisionally and then finally appointed chief magistrate in Aalen on November 23 .

Wilhelm Ganzhorn and Jakobine Luise Alber (born September 27, 1837 in Conweiler ; † March 8, 1909 in Cannstatt ) married on January 18, 1855 in St. Stephen's Church in Feldrennach .

Luise Alber was the daughter of the Rössles landlord in Conweiler and farmer Friedrich Alber and his wife Friederike, née Zeltmann. Ganzhorn's wife Luise gave birth to ten children, four of whom died in infancy. When a better paid position became available in Neckarsulm , Ganzhorn applied for it and was transferred there with effect from December 15, 1859.

Chief magistrate in Neckarsulm

Former Higher Regional Court
Neckarsulm Binswanger Str. 3

The move to Neckarsulm took place in early March 1860 . Ganzhorn lived there in today's Binswanger Straße 3 in the new upper office building built between 1845 and 1847. The Neckarsulm City Archives were housed in this apartment until the beginning of 2009 . Ganzhorn applied for a seat in the state parliament in January 1862 , but was not elected.

Ganzhorn was in the otherwise predominantly Catholic Neckarsulm member of the Protestant community and was on November 11, 1860. Church council elected (elders). He held this position until his departure in 1878. In this position he tried to achieve a balanced relationship between the Catholic and Protestant congregations.

During his time in Neckarsulm, Ganzhorn was also interested in research on antiquity and history. Here he joined the Historical Association for the Württemberg Franconia in 1860/1861 . As part of this research, he carried out excavations himself, first in his district of Neckarsulm and later in Sindelfingen (Fuchsberg district) , among others . For example, in 1862 he found a stone chisel and a stone ax in a burial mound in the Kochendorf district and in the same year the remains of vessels, a stone knife, thunderbolts and a Roman urn in the Offenau district. It was important to him to publish his research results. He brought out reports in the club newspaper and in the general press. He gave several lectures on various occasions about his finds in the Neckar region. He was also interested in anthropology , which brought him together at exhibitions and meetings with important men of his time, such as Rudolf von Virchow , Carl Vogt and the paleontologist Karl Alfred von Zittel .

In his professional activity, Ganzhorn is characterized as a mild and benevolent judge who always tried to balance differences and to reconcile disputants. Ganzhorn applied for a senior magistrate's position in Cannstatt, among other reasons, because his children would then be able to attend higher education institutions, and was transferred to Cannstatt on May 3, 1878.

Chief magistrate in Cannstatt

District court in Cannstatt , Wilhelmstrasse 10
Gravestone in the Cannstatter Uff churchyard

Ganzhorn took up his new position as chief magistrate in Cannstatt on August 9, 1878. In Stuttgart he was a member of the Anthropological Association and the Württemberg Antiquities Association and, from the end of 1878, in Cannstatt in the Apostelkranz , a lecture society.

Ganzhorn loved to travel all his life. In July 1843 and in the summer of 1844 he traveled to Belgium , Italy , Switzerland and France . But even in later years after 1850 there was at least one extended trip almost every year, during which he visited many European countries, for example Italy, Switzerland and Austria several times . It can be assumed that he visited all the world expositions in Europe that were held during his lifetime.

In July 1880 Ganzhorn made a trip to Italy and then to Düsseldorf , from where he returned with poor health. On September 9, 1880, he died of pneumonia and was buried on September 11, 1880 in the Uff churchyard in Cannstatt. Ganzhorn's grave is on the west side of the Uff churchyard. A marble plaque was attached to the tombstone .

Wilhelm Ganzhorn was a very sociable person and had many friends and acquaintances, especially among his poet colleagues. To name just a few of the more well-known, these were: the poets Ferdinand Freiligrath , Joseph Victor von Scheffel , Gustav Schwab , Justinus and Theobald Kerner , Ludwig Uhland and the Heilbronn doctor and naturalist Robert Mayer .

The poet Wilhelm Ganzhorn

Part of the Ganzhorn manuscript “Das stille Tal” from Nov. 1851
View from Conweiler over the "most beautiful meadow" to Feldrennach

Ganzhorn's fame as a poet is based on the poem In the most beautiful meadow . He composed it in 13 stanzas and completed it in November 1851. Of the 13 stanzas only the first and the last two stanzas are usually sung:

In the most beautiful meadow is my home house,
I move out into the valley at the morning hour.
I greet you, my silent valley, a thousand times!
I go out into the valley at the morning hour.

Should I leave the valley, where all joy and sound;
that would be my autumn suffering, my last walk.
I greet you, my silent valley, a thousand times!
That would be my autumn suffering, my last walk.

If I die, I want to be buried in the bottom of the valley;
sings to me at the last hour by the evening light:
To you, my quiet valley, greetings for the last time!
Sing to me at the last hour by the evening glow!

Version from November 1851, see Ganzhorn's manuscript

Two original manuscripts by Ganzhorn have been preserved of the lyrics; the first from November 1851 (see picture). In the second version from 1852 Ganzhorn himself changed some passages slightly, so that there is no uniform version of the lyrics.

The poem was written to the melody of the song Three lilies, three lilies that I will plant on my grave . The text of the poem was originally titled Das Stille Tal and appeared in 1852 with notes in the three-verse version in a song collection for the school without naming the author. In the following time it was published in various song books and quickly spread in German-speaking countries. In 1876, when the 13 stanzas were first reproduced in full, with details of the author, it was given the title In the most beautiful meadow .

The song also became known in the former German colonies. In 1996 its tune was chosen to be the tune of the national anthem of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands .

Panorama of the Straubenhardt "Wiesental"

The “Wiesengrund song” has all the typical characteristics of a folk song and is one of the well-known and probably one of the most sung German folk songs. At the 2004 Krone der Volksmusik , 26% of the audience voted this song the most popular folk song on TED . Ganzhorn's song is also a typical Heimatlied, whereby he did not understand the concept of home in the sense of patriotic, but wanted to express his connection to his homeland. With the meadow ground, Ganzhorn may have meant the meadow valley behind the Rössle inn in Conweiler , which stretches from Conweiler to Feldrennach . But that could never be proven for sure.

In the municipality of Grafenau, about 8 km from Sindelfingen, the "Wiesengrundhalle" was named after Ganzhorn's folk song when it was built in 1996, following a proposal by the Grafenau citizens. Not far from the hall is the Stegmühle, the birthplace of Wilhelm's father, Johann Georg Ganzhorn in 1775.

Preservation of the memory of Wilhelm Ganzhorn

Memorial plaque at the Ganzhorn Fountain in Straubenhardt
Wilhelm Ganzhorn School in Straubenhardt

In the places where Ganzhorn was active as a magistrate or chief magistrate, the memory of the poet Ganzhorn is cultivated in a variety of ways. A street in Neckarsulm was named after him as early as 1919, and paths in Sindelfingen, Aalen and Conweiler also bear his name; In the Aalener Ganzhornweg, a senior citizens' residence is called "Im Wiesengrund". In the local press, articles about him on anniversary anniversaries appear again and again, for example in the Heilbronner Voice . Exhibitions about him were also organized on these occasions. While the memory of him was kept alive until shortly after the Second World War, mainly by private individuals and associations, afterwards the memory of him is mainly fostered by city administrations, mostly within the framework of local cultural policy.

In 1969 Karl Heß (District Administrator in Böblingen ) put together a collection including a detailed biography, ancestral list and 40 poems, which was published by the local history association for Schönbuch and Gäu . This collection formed the basis for the exhibitions shown on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death in 1980 in Neckarsulm, Sindelfingen, Bad Cannstatt and in 1981 in Böblingen. For this purpose, the Landesgirokasse Stuttgart (today BW Bank) published a 12-page brochure in which, among other things, a reproduction of the complete poem “In the most beautiful meadow” (at that time still with the title: “The silent valley”) in the handwriting of Wilhelm Ganzhorn was published for the first time. (see picture under " The poet Wilhelm Ganzhorn ")

The Cannstatt local history researcher Hans Otto Stroheker organized another exhibition, which was presented to the public in Bad Cannstatt (1971 and 2006), Stuttgart (1971), Neckarsulm (1971 and 1980) and in Straubenhardt (1980).

Examples of the extensive honors are: the inclusion in the series of postcards for the Schwäbische Dichterstraße (Sindelfingen 1986), a radio broadcast about him ( Süddeutscher Rundfunk 1990) and television broadcasts with his song Im schön Wiesengrunde ( Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk October and December 2000 ). In several places, commemorative plaques or plaques were usually attached to buildings in which he was active as a magistrate (including Bad Cannstatt 1971, Aalen 1977, Neckarsulm 1921 and 1983, Neuenbürg 2001). In 1972 a secondary school and secondary school were named after him in Conweiler. The most important activities, however, are the maintenance of the songs, especially through the choral society friendship and the music society Lyra in Conweiler and the annual Ganzhorn Festival in Neckarsulm in early September. In the Stadtmuseum Neckarsulm (Urbanstrasse 14) there is a cabinet for Ganzhorn.


  • Gustav Friedrich Bühler: Wilhelm Ganzhorn. In: Württembergische Vierteljahrshefte für Landesgeschichte, Volume 4, 1881, pp. 236–239 ( online ).
  • Walter PH Scheffler:  Ganzhorn, Wilhelm Christian. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 6, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1964, ISBN 3-428-00187-7 , p. 68 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn. Life, ancestors, poems . Sindelfingen 1969 (= publications of the local history association for Schönbuch and Gäu , Volume 10)
  • Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn 1818–1880 . (Brochure on the 100th anniversary of the poet's death), publisher: Landesgirokasse Stuttgart (now: BW Bank), Stuttgart 1980.
  • Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn - the poet of the song 'In the most beautiful meadow ground'. In: Aalen Yearbook 1982, pp. 170-186 ( online ).
  • Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn - poet of the song 'In the most beautiful meadow ground' and his wife Luise geb. Alber. Life, poems, families, ancestors. Gulde-Druck GmbH Tübingen, Ostfildern 2004.
  • Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn. Poet revolutionary, archaeologist . In: Life pictures from Baden-Württemberg , ed. by Gerhard Taddey , Volume 21, Stuttgart 2005 pp. 150–191
  • Manfred Walz and Jürg Arnold: Care Dietwalde! Ferdinand Freiligrath and Wilhelm Ganzhorn. Correspondence and friendship poems from 1840 to 1880 . Stuttgart 2009
  • Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn (1818–1880), judge - poet - archaeologist. Schwäbisch Gmünd 2018 ISBN 978-3-95747-068-3

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Ganzhorn  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Brochure of the Landesgirokasse Stuttgart on the 100th anniversary of Ganzhorn's death, Stuttgart 1980, p. 7. Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn - poet of the song 'In the most beautiful meadow' Gulde-Druck GmbH Tübingen, Ostfildern 2004, picture 12.1 to 12.3 between p. 116 and 117
  2. Jürg Arnold: Wilhelm Ganzhorn - poet of the song 'In the most beautiful meadow ground' Gulde-Druck GmbH Tübingen, Ostfildern 2004, p. 43ff. and 151f.
  3. ↑ For the text of the national anthem see: en: Music of the Northern Mariana Islands and en: Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi
  4. http://www.zeitreise-bb.de/grafen/doeff/stegm.htm
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on November 19, 2006 .