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May 12 in German History
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May 12, 1237

The crusading order, "The Swordbrothers" is incorporated into the order, "The Teutonic Knights" by decree of Pope Gregory. Both orders had been involved in the crusade against the pagan Prussians. It was due to defeats and weakening of the Swordbrothers that they were merged with the Teutonic Knights.

May 12, 1670

Birth of Augustus II (August der Starke) in Dresden, Germany. Augustus held the titles, Elector of Saxony (after 1694) and King of Poland (after 1696).

May 12, 1856

Birth of Andreas Schimper in Strasbourg, France. Schimper, a botanist, was the first to divide the continents into floral regions, Pflanzen-Geographie auf physiologischer Grundlage (1898). He completed his doctorate at the University of Strasbourg and taught at the universities of Bonn and Basel. Schimper determined the role of starch grains in chloroplasts, a term which he coined.

May 12, 1857

Birth of Oskar Bolza in Bergzabern, Germany. Bolza was a mathematician who contributed to the calculus of variations, Lectures on the Calculus of Variations (1904), he developed the "problem of Bolza". Bolza was educated at the University of Göttingen. From 1893 to 1910 he taught at the University of Chicago. In 1910 he returned to Germany and taught at the University of Freiburg.

May 12, 1803

Birth of the chemist, Justus von Liebig, in Darmstadt, Germany. Von Liebig studied with Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner at the universities of Bonn and Erlangen. Von Liebig became a teacher at the University of Giessen, where he established the first laboratory to teach the methods of chemical research. That laboratory became the model for chemical education world wide. In 1852 von Liebig took a position at the University of Munich. His greatest contributions to chemistry were in the areas of organic chemistry and agricultural chemistry. He founded and published in the journal Annalen der Pharmacie which later changed its name to Annalen der Chemie.

May 12, 1845

Death of August Wilhem von Schlegel in Bonn, Germany. Schlegel was a scholar and critic. He was a translator of the dramas of William Shakespeare. He was a leading intellectual of the Romantic movement in Germany. He was a professor of literature at the University of Bonn.

May 12, 1874

Birth of Clemens von Pirquet in Vienna, Austria. A physician, Pirquet originated a skin test for tuberculosis, the Pirquet test. He gained his medical degree from the University of Graz.

May 12, 1892

Birth of Fritz Kortner (original name, Fritz Kohn) in Vienna, Austria. Kortner was a theater actor and director. Kortner established his reputation as a actor in Berlin on the stage and in films. He fled Germany when the Nazis came to power and spent the war years in the United States. He returned to Germany in 1949 and earned a reputation as an innovative theater director.

May 12, 1921

Birth of Joseph Beuys in Krefeld, Germany. Beuys, a sculptor, was a pilot in the German Air Force in World II. In 1943 he crashed in winter conditions and nearly froze. His rescuers tried to restore body heat by wrapping him in fat and felt. Although there is reason to believe that the story above was an artistic fabrication by Beuys, those substances would later play a continuing role in his sculpture. Beuys was a teacher at the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf after 1961. In his creative work he worked with an international group called Fluxus. He developed the technique of staging events in galleries. His most noted was How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare in 1965. For the event we walked around a gallery for two hours with his body decorated and holding a dead rabbit, to which he explained the pictures in the exhibition.

May 12, 1949

End of the Berlin Blockade.

May 12, 1957

Death of Erich von Stroheim in Paris, France. Von Stroheim was a film director and actor. He moved to the United States in 1914. His first film was Blind Husbands. Other notable films are Greed, The Merry Widow, and Queen Kelly. He ultimately gave up directing and returned to Europe as an actor.

May 12, 1965

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) announces the beginning of diplomatic relations with Israel. Ambassadors are exchanged starting on August 11.)

May 12, 1970

Death of Nelly (Leonie) Sachs in Stockholm, Sweden (born in Berlin, Germany). Sach's poetry and drama convey the suffering and pain of German Jews. She lived in Berlin until 1940, when she learned that she was soon to be taken to a concentration camp and was able to escape to Sweden. It was at that time that she began to write poetry in serious fashion. She was awarded the German Publishers' Peace Prize in 1965 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. On the occasion of the receipt of the Nobel Prize she commented "I represent the tragedy of the Jewish People." Her most noted play is, Eli: Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels (1951).

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