Want Vespers

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Will Vesper, 1932
Porcelain, novellas . Leipzig, 1922, original edition. Book cover by Käte Vesper-Waentig

Will Vesper (born October 11, 1882 in Barmen ; † March 11, 1962 at Gut Triangel near Gifhorn ) was a German writer , literary critic and National Socialist .


The son of a Protestant farmer family studied history and German at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich . From 1906 he worked as a literary adviser and translator at the CH Beck publishing house . In the same year he married Käte Waentig (* 1879 in Zittau ), the older sister of the later Höri artist Walter Waentig. She illustrated some of his works, for example The Harvest from Eight Centuries of German Poetry (1906–1908). In 1913/1914 he was in Florence . At the First World War, Vespers took from 1915 to 1918 first as an infantryman and against the war as a "research assistant" in the General Staff in part. In 1919 he moved to Meissen with his first wife.

After two years as head of the cultural section of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung from 1918 to 1920, Vesper worked from 1923 to 1943 as editor of the journal Die Schöne Literatur (from 1930 under the title Die Neue Literatur ), which became the leading Nazi literary journal. In the Gau Sachsen Vesper was also head of the Reichsschrifttumskammer . In addition, he published his own novels, stories and poems. His works dealt mainly with the German past and especially the Germanic prehistoric times. In them he represented a decidedly nationalist view, which, together with a glorification and glorification of the love of clod , motherhood and war , predestined him as a representative of the Nazi ideology. His best-known work, The Hard Sex , about the Christianization of Iceland, was published in 1931 and was celebrated in May 1933 in the Völkischer Beobachter as a “blood-fed north country novel”.

As early as the early 1930s, Bertelsmann Verlag was able to win Vesper as an author.

In 1931 Vesper, who according to Thomas Mann had always been "one of the worst nationalist fools", joined the NSDAP . After the expulsion of unpopular writers from the poetry section of the Prussian Academy of the Arts , such as Thomas Mann, Leonhard Frank and Alfred Döblin , Vesper moved to the poet academy on May 5, 1933 alongside Hans Friedrich Blunck , Hans Carossa , Hans Grimm and others, where he actively participated in the preparations for the book burnings. In the burning as "un-German" literature Scorned on 10 May 1933 in Dresden held Vesper was the guest speaker. He was also one of the 88 writers who signed the " Pledge of Most Loyal Allegiance " for Adolf Hitler in October 1933 .

In his literary magazine Die Neue Literatur , Vesper exercised a kind of private post-censorship by subjecting writers and publishers who did not meet his personal ideas to downright defamation campaigns. In February 1937, for example, a pamphlet was published, influenced by National Socialist racism , in which Vesper railed against “Jewish” publishers: “If a German girl has an affair with a Jew, then both are rightly condemned for racial disgrace. When a German writer and a German bookseller enters into a relationship with Jewish publishers - isn't that a far worse and more dangerous racial disgrace? "

Since Vesper did not shy away from attacks on the state diversion of literature, he increasingly lost support, so that in 1936 he retired from his offices to the estate of his second wife Rose Vesper (widowed Rimpau) in Triangle near Gifhorn. Here he worked as a farmer, but continued to publish his literary magazine until 1943.

Like hardly any other writer, Vesper placed himself at the service of National Socialist propaganda and, in addition to pure party poetry and numerous “Führer poems”, polemicized particularly aggressively against unpleasant fellow writers, especially exiles. An example for:

“In February 1937 Vesper incited against“ the publishing house Dr. Rolf Passer (formerly Epstein), who publishes the worst German haters like Urzidil and the evil falsifier of history Tschuppik and smuggles works full of rottenness and wickedness into Germany, such as the recently published book 'Die Asiaten' by Frederic Prokosch, which is said to have been translated from the American do no wrong if you think he is a Jew. In any case, his 'novel of a journey' is Jewish, nihilistic and full of corrosive gossip. A mental department store hoax for stupid intellectuals, but which exudes a devilish tiredness and viciousness. [...] But
it is by no means sufficient to catch a single such rat and throw it out. A way must be found to protect the German people from the creeping underhandedness of all Jewish publishers in the world. Books from Jewish publishers must be marked as Jewish in German bookshops. If the publishers outside cannot be grasped, then the German booksellers themselves have to find a way to clearly identify books from Jewish publishers as such. The list of open and camouflaged Jewish publishers can be communicated. The books of these publishers must then bear a clear mark, such as the star Judas . We ask nothing but openness. Who can be against it or complain about it if he does not have to hide something shameful or harmful in the dark? "

As early as 1935, Vesper had tried single-handedly to influence the "nationally" minded authors of the Austrian Zsolnay publishing house , since it was a "Jewish publishing house ".

After the war, Vesper worked as an editor at Bertelsmann- Verlag. He was still involved in right-wing circles through readings at poets' days with Hans Grimm (" People without Space ") in Lippoldsberg and on his wife's estate in Triangle near Gifhorn. In the park of the manor he had cats shot as "the Jews among the animals". He died on March 11, 1962 on the estate.

In the Soviet zone of occupation , several works by Vesper were placed on the list of literature to be segregated. This also applies to the Austrian list of blocked authors and books .

His son Bernward Vesper also became known , whose novel Die Reise (1977), among other things, deals with the conflicting relationship with his father.


Novels, stories, fairy tales

  • The Blessing , 1905
  • Hartmann von Aue: Lieder, Der arme Heinrich (Nachdichtung), 1906
  • Tristan and Isolde ( retelling ), 1911
  • Parzival (retelling), 1911
  • Martin Luther's youth , 1918
  • The Baltic , 1919
  • Annemarie , 1920
  • The forces of dreams , 1920
  • The Book of Dear Santa Claus , 1920
  • Good spirits , 1921
  • The Nibelungen saga (retelling), 1921
  • Daniel Defoe. Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (adaptation), 1922
  • The Gudrun saga (retelling), 1922
  • Happy Fairy Tales (retelling), 1922
  • Porcelain , 1922
  • Ulrich von Hutten's hike , 1922
  • The Eternal Return , 1922
  • Poor Konrad , 1924
  • Der Pfeifer von Niclashausen , 1924 (story about the Franconian preacher Hans Böhm )
  • The Bundschuh zu Lehen , 1925
  • Jonathan Swift: Lemuel Gulliver's Four Journeys (retelling), 1927
  • The Saint and the Pope , 1928
  • The history of Reinecke the Fox (retelling), 1928
  • The mother booklet , 1928
  • Animal tales from all over the world (retelling), 1928
  • The hard sex , 1931
  • Sam in Schnabelweide , 1931
  • Three stories , 1933
  • A day in Goethe's life , 1933
  • The Unleashed Infant , 1935
  • Stories of Love, Dream, and Death , 1937
  • Fighters of God , 1938
  • In flight to Spain , 1943
  • The dissatisfied hedgehog , 1943
  • Strange Flute , 1958
  • The Magic of the Heath , 1960
  • Last harvest , 1962

Dramas, rascals

  • Games of Love , 1913
  • The love fair , 1913
  • Who? Whom? , 1927
  • A German celebration , 1936


  • The love mass and other poems , 1913
  • From the great war of 1914 , 1915
  • The blooming tree , 1916
  • Letters from two lovers , 1916
  • Summer is beautiful , 1918
  • The Book of Dear Santa Claus , 1920
  • Mother and Child , 1920
  • The meadow man's bridal trip , 1920
  • Inscriptions and Poems , 1928
  • Wreath of life. Complete edition of my poems , 1934
  • Call the time. Proverbs and Poems , 1937
  • The New Reich , 1939
  • Picture of the Führer , 1942
  • Yet! , 1944
  • Little wreath of life. Selection , 1960

Essays, adaptations

  • Friedrich Hölderlin: Hyperion (afterword), 1921
  • Praise of Poverty , 1921
  • The Youth Bible (adaptation), 1927
  • The Right of the Living , 1927
  • In the mountains, on the water (introduction), 1928
  • The world clock , 1932
  • Review by Heinrich Hauser , Im Kraftfeld von Rüsselsheim , in Die Neue Literatur , 41, 1940, p. 1681


  • Gisela Berglund: The fight for the reader in the Third Reich. The literary policy of the “New Literature” (Will Vesper) and the “National Socialist Monthly Issues” (= German Exile 1933–45; 11). Heintz, Worms 1980, ISBN 3-921333-11-3 .
  • Uwe Day: High priest of the Hitler cult and literary inquisitor. About Will Vesper. In: Griffel, Hannover, 9, 2000, pp. 61-73.
  • Wilhelm Pleyer: Hans Grimm, EG Kolbenheyer, Will Vesper. Commemorative speech (on July 15, 1962 on the occasion of the Lippoldsberg Poets' Day). Bogen-Verlag, Munich a. a. 1962.
  • Alexander Reck (Ed.): Correspondence between Paul Ernst and Will Vesper 1919–1933. Introduction - Edition - Commentary. Königshausen and Neumann, Würzburg 2003, ISBN 3-8260-2427-3 .
  • Bernward Vesper: The Journey. Novel essay. March at two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main, 1977.
  • Böckelmann / Fischler: Bertelsmann. Behind the facade of the media empire . Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-8218-5551-7 , pp. 66, 84f., 92, 110.
  • Reinhard Bein : Hitler's Brunswick staff. DöringDruck, Braunschweig 2017, ISBN 978-3-925268-56-4 , pp. 284-291.
  • Romeo Felsenreich: The Journalists of the Völkischer Beobachter - Where did they come from? Where did they go , University of Vienna, Master's thesis, Department of Journalism and Communication Studies, September 2012, in particular pp. 112–113.

Memberships (selection)

Web links

Commons : Will Vesper  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Year information see Gisela Berglund: The fight for the reader in the Third Reich. The literary policy of the “New Literature” (Will Vesper) and the “National Socialist Monthly Issues” (= German Exile 1933–45; 11). Heintz, Worms 1980, ISBN 3-921333-11-3 , p. 1.
  2. ^ Victor Klemperer : LTI - notebook of a philologist , Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-15-020520-4 .
  3. a b c d 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. 630.
  4. ^ Thomas Mann: Letter to Hermann Hesse dated February 16, 1936. In: Hermann Hesse / Thomas Mann: Correspondence . Frankfurt am Main 1968, p. 64 f, here p. 65.
  5. cf. Hildegard Brenner: End of a bourgeois art institution. The political formation of the Prussian Academy of the Arts from 1933 . Ed .: Institute for Contemporary History, Stuttgart (dva) 1972, pp. 22, 81 f., 93, 97 f., 100 f., 104, 109, 114 f.
  6. ^ Quotation from Ernst Klee: Das Kulturlexikon zum Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 630.
  7. ^ German administration for popular education in the Soviet occupation zone, list of literature to be sorted out . Zentralverlag, Berlin, 1946, transcript letter V, pages 426–433, in the "Database Writing and Image 1900–1960", accessed on August 30, 2017.
    German Administration for Popular Education in the Soviet Occupation Zone, list of the literature to be sorted out: first supplement . Zentralverlag, Berlin, 1947, transcript letter V, pages 155–160, in the “Database Writing and Image 1900–1960”, accessed on August 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Austrian Federal Ministry for Education (ed.): List of blocked authors and books. Relevant for bookshops and libraries . Ueberreuter, Vienna, 1946, p. 60.
  9. Both National Socialists were united by an uncritical enthusiasm for technology. Vesper was editor of the magazine.