Wilhelm Hertz (poet)

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Wilhelm Hertz , from 1898 Ritter von Hertz (born September 24, 1835 in Stuttgart , † January 7, 1902 in Munich ) was a German poet and Germanist . Wilhelm Hertz was particularly popular in the 19th century and has largely been forgotten today due to the extensive loss of many of his works, but many of the lost works are currently being reissued, reconstructed and rediscovered.

Wilhelm von Hertz, Portrait of Rudolf Pfähler and Carl Baumann (1855)
Wilhelm Hertz; Photo of one of the two paintings by Franz von Lenbach


Wilhelm Hertz's father, Wilhelm Hertz, was a respected art gardener who had earned a reputation for himself through specialist literature on art and landscape gardening. His mother Karoline Hertz (née Pfizenmayer) died in childbirth; she was the great-granddaughter of the well-known Swabian theosophist Johann Michael Hahn . The feelings of guilt that Wilhelm Hertz persuaded himself throughout his life can be found in some of his works, for example in the poem Am Grabe der Mutter . Hertz was an orphan at the age of four and has since grown up with his paternal grandmother.

In 1843 Wilhelm Hertz began training as a businessman at the Realanstalt Stuttgart, which he attended until 1850. During his time at secondary school, Hertz's literary talents were first noticed and strengthened by Wilhelm Zimmermann . Nevertheless, after leaving school, Hertz decided to take a different path: he became an agricultural intern at Berkheimer Hof (near Solitude Palace , Stuttgart). He thus followed his father's career path.

Hertz then studied agriculture at the United Real and Trade School . During his studies he got together with some fellow students to form a so-called "Kränzchen" (which later became the Corps Teutonia Stuttgart ). He was a member of the corps until his death. From 1856 he was a member of the Corps Franconia Tübingen .

Dissatisfied with the specialist training, Hertz switched to the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium , where he obtained access to university studies with his graduation in 1855. Immediately afterwards he enrolled at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in the subjects of German , English and Romance studies . On May 8, 1855, he joined the Corps Franconia Tübingen as a fox . Among other things, he heard from Friedrich Theodor Vischer , Adelbert von Keller and in particular from Ludwig Uhland , whose best and most famous pupil he was to become. During his studies he wrote the majority of his ballads, which he borrowed mainly from the German folk sagas, the Nibelungenlied and the Edda . For a prize advertised by the Bavarian Maximilian Order , Hertz applied with the drama Ezzelin , which was shortlisted (first prize went to Paul Heyse , who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, with the drama Sabine Women ). Nevertheless, Hertz was extremely satisfied with the recognition of his work and happy about the friendship he had with Paul Heyse, which would last until his death. For his doctoral thesis The Epic Poems of the English in the Middle Ages he received the title of Doctor of Philosophy.

Hertz wanted to follow Paul Heyse's call to the University of Munich for his habilitation , but because of the threat of war, this prevented him from being drafted into the Württemberg Army , where Hertz served as a lieutenant in the 6th Infantry Regiment. However, Württemberg did not intervene in the ongoing Sardinian War , and Hertz was dismissed from military service on November 10, 1859 after the peace treaty.

On December 2, 1858, Hertz was introduced by Paul Heyse to the artist group Die Krokodile , which included Emanuel Geibel , Felix Dahn and Friedrich von Bodenstedt , among others . In the next few years he traveled to Oxford, Paris and Rome, among others. During this time, Hertz dealt with translations and re-poetry and the like. a. of Beowulf and of Tristan and Isolde .

From 1861 Hertz finally settled in Munich and completed his habilitation in 1862 with the work Der Werwolf . In December 1875 he married Katharina Cubasch from Odessa . In 1878 Hertz was appointed full professor (previously he only had the status of associate professor). Hertz cultivated many friendships, such as B. to the sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand .

In 1894 Thomas Mann enrolled at the Technical University of Munich and heard lectures from Wilhelm Hertz.

On January 7, 1902, Hertz died of a stomach disease and was buried in the Schwabing cemetery. The tombstone, which still exists today, was made by Adolf von Hildebrand , but the grave has already been abandoned.


  • 1878: Great gold medal for art and science of the state of Württemberg
  • 1885: Appointment as extraordinary member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences
  • 1890: Appointment as a full member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences
  • 1896: Award of the Commander's Cross 2nd Class of the Württemberg Order of Frederick
  • 1898: Award of the Knight's Cross of the Royal Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown


  • Dramatic fairy tale games (between 1847 and 1848)
  • Lancelot and Ginevra (1860)
  • The Roland song (translation from Old French, 1861)
  • The werewolf (1862; ISBN 3-253-02684-1 )
  • Marie de France (1862)
  • Hugdietrichs Brautfahrt (epic from 1863)
  • Aucassin and Nicolette (translation from 1865)
  • Heinrich von Schwaben (epic from 1867)
  • Gottfried von Strasbourg (translation from 1877)
  • Brother Rausch (epic from 1882)
  • Spielmannsbuch (translation from 1886) ( ISBN 3-253-02624-8 )
  • At the mother's grave
  • Ezzelin (probably lost)
  • Spirit of Youth from Album for Germany's Daughters


  • Gerhard Hay:  Hertz, Wilhelm von. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 8, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1969, ISBN 3-428-00189-3 , p. 715 ( digitized version ).
  • Hermann Greiner: Wilhelm Hertz - a Tübingen Franke , Tübingen 1996.
  • Isolde Kurz : From my youth , Tübingen 1975.
  • Erich Müller: Wilhelm Hertz as an epic poet , dissertation, Munich 1922.
  • Helene Raff: Wilhelm Hertz - for the 100th birthday of the Swabian poet . In: Stuttgarter Neues Tagblatt, No. 444 of September 21, 1935.
  • Kurt von Stutterheim: Wilhelm Hertz as a poet , dissertation, Tübingen 1913.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Kösener corps lists 1910, 194 , 192.

Web links

Wikisource: Wilhelm Hertz  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Poems (Wilhelm Hertz)  - sources and full texts
Commons : Wilhelm Hertz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files