2 in German History
February 2, 962
The Magdeburger Reiter: a tinted sandstone equestrian monument, c. 1240, traditionally intended as a portrait of Otto I (detail), Magdeburg
Otto I is crowned as Augustus (Emperor of
the Holy Roman Empire) in Rome by Pope John XII. The empire
as founded by Karl der Große (Charlemagne) had been divided
after his death. Otto now refounded the empire which would
remain intact until 1806.
February 2, 1700
Birth of Johann Christoph Gottsched in
Judithenkirch, Germany (now in Russia). Gottsched was a
writer and literary critic. He was a professor of poetry at
the University of Leipzig from 1730 and a professor of logic
and metaphysics from 1734. Among his theoretical works on
literature, his Versuch einer kritischen Dichtkunst vor
die Deutschen (1730) was the most influential. Gottsched
worked closely with Caroline Neuber and her theater in
establishing the Leipzig school of acting.
February 2, 1711
Birth of Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz in
Vienna, Austria. Kaunitz was a minister of Austria and a
powerful influence on the Empress, Maria Theresa. A long time
foe of Prussia, he was able to shift European alliances and,
for a time, virtually isolate Prussia.
February 2, 1809
Birth of George Engelmann in Frankfurt am
Main, Germany. Engelmann earned his MD at the University of
Würzburg. In 1833 he immigrated to the United States where
he became a physician in St. Louis, Missouri. In his
botanical researches he discovered that the North American
grape was immune to the plant lice, phylloxera. Subsequently
grafts from American grapes were used in Germany to ward off
the "Reblaus" which was having devastating effects
on German grapes (and thus wine production). Engelmann died
in St. Louis on February 4, 1884.
February 2, 1827
Birth of Oswald Achenbach in Düsseldorf,
Germany. Achenbach was a landscape painter of the Düsseldorf
February 2, 1855
Birth of Friedrich Bechtel in Durlach,
Germany. Bechtel was a professor of classics at the
University of Halle. He was a leading scholar in the areas of
Greek dialectology and Homeric criticism.
February 2, 1866
Birth of Helmut von Gerlach (1866-1935) in
Mönchmotschelnitz, Germany (now in Poland). Gerlach founded
the Nationalsozialer Verein in 1896 and wrote for the
organization's paper, Die Zeit. In 1901 he became the
editor of the Berlin weekly Die Welt am Montag. During
World War I he was a leading pacifist. During the period of
the Weimar Republic he remained active as a pacifist and was
a leader in the Neues Vaterland organization and the Deutsche
Liga für Menschenrechte. When Hitler came to power he fled
to Austria and then to France. In France he was active as an
anti-Nazi until his death in 1935.
February 2, 1873
Birth of Konstantin Neurath in
Klein-Glattbach, Germany. Neurath had been German foreign
minister during the presidencies of Papen and Schleicher. He
continued as foreign minister under Hitler until 1938 when he
was replaced by von Ribbentrop. In 1939 he was placed in
charge of Bohemia and Moravia. He was tried for war crimes at
Nürnberg after the war and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
He was released from Spandau prison in 1954 after eight years
of his term.
February 2, 1875
Birth of Fritz Kreisler in Vienna, Austria.
He developed as one of the world's greatest violinists. He
chose the United States as his primary residence beginning in
1915. In addition to performance he also composed for the
February 2, 1926
The President of France from 1974-1981,
Valery Giscard d'Estaing was born in Koblenz, Germany.
February 2, 1943
General Paulus and 300,000 German soldiers
surrender at Stalingrad in World War II and are taken prisoner.
February 2, 1945
Hanging of Karl Friedrich Goerdeler (1884-1945) in
Berlin, Germany. Goerdeler was a leader in the German
resistance during WWII. He was deeply involved in the
assassination attempt on Hitler. He would likely have taken
control of the government had the attempt succeeded.
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