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22 in German History
February 22, 1455
Birth of Johannes Reuchlin in Pforzheim,
Germany. Reuchlin was a scholar of ancient Greek and Latin
who also developed a keen interest in Hebrew language and
literature. In 1509 the Cologne Dominican, Johannes
Pfefferkorn, persuaded the emperor to order the destruction
of Hebrew books because they were a danger to Christianity.
Reuchlin's principles could not tolerate this and he actively
protested the ruling. As a result he was brought before the
Inquisition. Due to an outcry by a wide segment of
intellectuals of the day, however, he was acquitted of
heresy. This experience did not drive Reuchlin from the
church. When his nephew Philip Melanchthon joined with Martin
Luther in the Reformation, Reuchlin sided with the church
against his nephew.
February 22, 1749
Birth of Johann Forkel in Meeder, Germany.
Forkel was the first biographer of Johann Sebastian Bach Über
Johann Sebastian Bachs Leben, Kunst und Kunstwerke (1802).
Forkel died in Göttingen on March 20, 1818.
February 22, 1756
Birth of Georg Friedrich von Martens in
Hamburg, Germany. A professor of law at the University of
Göttingen, he founded and edited the Recueil des traites which
became and is yet today the world's largest collection of
treaties. Martens died on February 21, 1821 in Frankfurt am
February 22, 1788
Birth of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) in Danzig,
Germany (now in Poland). Schopenhauer was possibly the most
pessimistic of all philosophers. He encountered Indian
philosophy while living in the intellectual atmosphere of
Weimar in 1813-14. In building his own philosophy he would
draw on the Indian as well as those of Plato and which he had
studied at the university. His greatest work was Die Welt
als Wille und Vorstellung (1819). Shopenhauer's writings
had extensive influence on the thinking of Friedrich
Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Jacob Burckhardt, Gerhart
Hauptmann and Thomas Mann.
February 22, 1797
Death of Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Freiherr
von Münchhausen (Baron Münchhausen) (1720-1797) in Bodenwerder,
Germany. Münchausen had been a soldier in the Russian army
fighting against the Turks. In 1760 he retired to his estates
in Hannover and gained a wide-spread reputation as a story
teller with his wildly exaggerated narrations of his
adventures as a soldier. The first publication of his tales
was in Vademecum für lustige Leute between 1781 and
1783. Rudolf Erich Raspe published a collection of stories
based on the Münchhausen tales in London in 1785, Baron
Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and
Campaigns in Russia. The first German color motion
picture (at roughly the same time as the American Wizard
of OZ ) was the story of Baron von Münchhausen.
February 22, 1840
Birth of August Bebel in Deutz, Germany.
Bebel was the co-founder of the Social Democratic Party (SPD)
of Germany. He met Wilhelm Liebknecht, the other co-founder
of the SPD, in Leipzig in 1865. The party was formed in 1869.
There were years of struggle and, for Bebel, years in prison,
before the SPD won its first majority in the Reichstag in
1912. As a writer, Bebel had his greatest success with Die
Frau und der Sozialismus (1883).
February 22, 1857
Birth of Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894) in Hamburg,
Germany. Hertz, a physicist in Karlsruhe, discovered how to
produce, send and receive radio waves. The scientific unit of frequency – cycles per second – was named the "hertz" in his honor. In 1892, an infection was diagnosed (after a bout of severe migraines) and Hertz underwent some operations to correct the illness. He died of Wegener's granulomatosis at the age of 36 in Bonn, Germany in 1894. Heinrich Hertz's daughters Johanna (1887–1967) and Mathilde (1891–1975) never married and he does not have any descendants.
February 22, 1870
Birth of Hugo Stinnes in Mülheim, Germany.
An industrialist, Stinnes, beginning with a modest operation
established by his grandfather (Stinnes Konzern) in coal
mining, expanded the business to include steel mills, banks,
and electrical companies as well as transportation (Hugo
Stinnes GmbH). During World War I he profited greatly from
the supply of war materials. A member of the Deutschnationale
Volkspartei, he was elected to parliament in the early years
of the Weimar Republic.
February 22, 1902
Birth of the chemist Fritz Strassmann (1902-1980) in
Boppard, Germany. With his partners Otto Hahn and Lise
Meitner, he discovered nuclear fission in 1938. Their
discovery set the U.S. into a frantic search for the
technology of the atomic bomb, fearing that Germany was very
close to it. After the war Strassmann became a professor of
inorganic and nuclear chemistry at the University of Mainz.
February 22, 1903
Death of the composer, Hugo Wolf, in
Vienna, Austria. Wolf wrote approximately 300 Lieder incorporating
the poetry of such writers as Goethe, Heine, Mörike,
Eichendorf, etc. At times during his lifetime he was close to
Mahler, Wagner and Brahms.
February 22, 1942
Suicide of Stefan Zweig in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (born in Vienna, Austria). Stefan Zweig was a writer
who worked in a variety of genres. Noted works by Zweig are, Drei
Meister (1920), Der Kampf mit dem Dämon (1925), Sternstunden
der Menschheit (1928) and Verwirrung der Gefühle (1925).
At the rise of the Nazis he went into exile in 1934. He went
first to England and then to Brazil.
February 22, 1943
Execution of Hans and Sophie Scholl, often referred to in German as die Geschwister Scholl (literally: the Scholl siblings), were a brother and sister who were members of the White Rose, a student group in Munich that was active in the non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany, especially in distributing flyers against the war and the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. In post-war Germany, Hans and Sophie Scholl are recognized as symbols of the humanist German resistance movement against the totalitarian Nazi regime.
February 22, 1965
Death of Felix Frankfurter in Washington,
D.C. (born in Vienna, Austria). Frankfurter immigrated to the
United States with his family at age 12. He studied law at
Harvard Law School. He was active in the founding of the
American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. He was appointed to
the Supreme Court by President Franklin Rosevelt in 1939. He
retired in 1962. President Kennedy awarded him the Medal of
Freedom in 1963.
February 22, 1980
Death of the Expressionist painter and
writer, Oskar Kokoschka, in Villeneuve, Switzerland (born in
Pöchlarn, Austria). Representative paintings by Kokoschka
include "Mörder Hoffnung der Frauen" (1907),
"The Tempest" (1914), "Prague, Charles
Bridge" (1934), "The Red Egg" (1941), and
"View of Hamburg Harbor" (1951). Kokoschka spend
WWII in England. His art had been declared degenerate by the
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