Wilhelm Wackernagel

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Karl Heinrich Wilhelm Wackernagel (born April 23, 1806 in Berlin ; † December 21, 1869 in Basel ) was a German philologist ( German studies ), art and cultural historian, since 1833 professor in Basel.

Wilhelm Wackernagel
Signature Wilhelm Wackernagel.PNG

life and work

Wackernagel was the son of the printer and detective inspector Johann Wilhelm and Agnes Sophie, née Schulze. After his father died in 1815 and his mother in 1818, Wackernagel came into the care of his older siblings.

After attending grammar school, Wackernagel studied at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin from 1824 to 1827 , where he was a student of Karl Lachmann . Wackernagel was friends with Julius Huebner . Wackernagel lived in poor conditions in Berlin, and when Hoffmann von Fallersleben invited him to Breslau in 1828 , he accepted the invitation. Since they fell out after two years, Wackernagel returned to Berlin. Here he was looking for a job as a librarian or archivist, which was unsuccessful in the course of the demagogue persecution . Wackernagel had to get by as a private teacher and translator. On the recommendation of Abel Burckhardt , Wackernagel succeeded in obtaining a professorship at the University of Basel , which he took up on Easter 1833. From 1835 he taught as a full professor at the University of Basel, where he held the rectorate in 1841, 1855 and 1866 .

Wackernagel was a teacher at the Basel Pedagogy, where he promoted various talented students, such as the later poet pastor Jonas Breitenstein . Wackernagel was a Freemason and speaker at the Friendship and Resistance Lodge in Basel. Since 1856 he was a member of the Basel Grand Council .

Wilhelm Wackernagel, Wolfgottesacker Cemetery, Basel
Wilhelm Wackernagel, family grave at Wolfgottesacker cemetery, Basel
Drawing of the youthful Wilhelm Wackernagel by Julius Huebner (1822)

In addition to the Brothers Grimm , Wilhelm Wackernagel was one of the most important German scholars of his time. In later years he also became a pioneer in the academic study of certain art-historical sub-disciplines (works on the history of glass painting and the golden antependium from Basel Minster) and also conducted historical studies. He initiated and directed the Medieval Collection, the forerunner of the Basel Historical Museum .

Two of his sons from his first marriage to Caroline Louise Bluntschli († 1848), sister of the legal scholar and politician Johann Caspar Bluntschli , were the editors of the Basler Nachrichten , Gottfried and Emanuel Wackernagel .

Wackernagel bought the property at the Hinterer Württemberger Hof from Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette . There he received his friends such as Adelbert Chamisso , Ludwig Uhland , Theodor Meyer-Merian and Jacob Burckhardt . After his death, his son Rudolf Wackernagel lived in the property.

Two of his sons from his second marriage to Maria Salome Sarasin, sister of the entrepreneur and politician Karl Sarasin , were the Indo-Germanist Jacob Wackernagel and the historian Rudolf Wackernagel , one grandson (son of Rudolf Wackernagel) was the art historian Martin Wackernagel , another (son of Jacob Wackernagel) the historian and folklorist Hans Georg Wackernagel . His grandchildren were Hans Georg Wackernagel and Jacob Wackernagel .

His grave is on the Wolfgottesacker . His scientific papers are kept at the University Library of Basel .


In 1837 Wackernagel received honorary citizenship of the city of Basel. In 1851 he was elected a corresponding member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and in 1855 of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . In 1876, Ferdinand Schlöth commissioned a monument bust from Wackernagel for the auditorium of the museum on Augustinergasse .

In 1906, Karl Jünger wrote a memorial to Wackernagel as a poet.

On the 150th anniversary of Wilhelm Wackernagel's death on December 21, 2019, the University Library of Basel started digitizing its library.

Works (selection)

  • Twelve Middle High German lyric poems , Berlin 1827
  • Poems by a traveling schoolboy , Berlin 1828
  • History of the German hexameter and pentameter up to Klopstock , Berlin 1831
  • The merits of the Swiss for German literature . Academic inaugural address, Basel 1833
  • On the explanation and assessment of Bürgers Lenore , Basel 1835
  • German reader, 3 parts, Basel 1835–43
  • On dramatic poetry , Basel 1838
  • Old German reader with dictionary , Schweighauser, Basel 1839
  • Newer poems , Zurich / Frauenfeld 1841
  • The infirmary at Sanct Jacob , Basel 1843
  • About the fourth Säcularfest of the Battle of St. Jacob an der Birs , Basel 1844
  • The battle of St. Jacob (1444) in the reports of contemporaries , Basel 1844
  • Walther von Klingen . Founder of the Klingenthal and minstrel , Basel 1845
  • Weinbüchlein , Leipzig 1845
  • Old French songs and corpses from manuscripts from Bern and Neuchâtel with grammatical and literary-historical treatises , Basel 1846
  • The old German poets of Alsace , vol. 1: Otfrid von Weißenburg ; Vol. 2: Heinrich der Gleißner , Basel 1847/48
  • German reading book. New edition augmented by a Handbuch der Literaturgeschichte , 3 vol., Basel 1847–53
  • 1849; History of German Literature. A manual ., 3 Dept., Basel 1851–53
  • Poor Heinrich Herr Hartmann von Aue and two younger prose legends with a related content. Schweighauser, Basel 1855; new ed. by Ernst Stadler , ibid. 1911
  • German stained glass. Historical draft with documents , Leipzig 1855
  • The golden altarpiece from Basel. Declaration and time determination , Basel 1857
  • The ages. A contribution to comparative moral and legal history , Basel 1862
  • Poetics, Rhetoric and Stylistics: Academic Lectures . Edited by L. Sieber. Halle 1873 ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  • Meinauer Naturlehre in Project Gutenberg ( currently usually not available for users from Germany )


Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Wackernagel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Wilhelm Wackernagel  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. 1906, Wackernagel's youth and supplementary life dates
  2. Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freemaurerlexikon. Revised and expanded new edition of the 1932 edition, Munich 2003, 951 pages, ISBN 3-7766-2161-3
  3. 1906, A political correspondence between Bluntschli and Wackernagel
  4. Basel Buildings, Hinterer Württemberger Hof: Hinterer Württemberger Hof. Retrieved October 12, 2019 .
  5. Stock to be determined by selection of securities.
  6. ^ Members of the previous academies. Wilhelm Wackernagel. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities , accessed on June 25, 2015 .
  7. 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. 249.
  8. Stefan Hess / Tomas Lochman (eds.), Classical beauty and patriotic heroism. The Basel sculptor Ferdinand Schlöth (1818–1891) , Basel 2004, p. 174 f.
  9. ^ Karl Jünger: Commemorative publication for Wackernagel. Retrieved October 11, 2019 .
  10. 2019, Digitization of the Wackernagel library
  11. 2019, Blog on the digitization of the library