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Hans Luther, the son of a wealthy businessman in Berlin, was born on 10th March, 1885. He studied law in Kiel and Geneva before joining Berlin's civil service.
In 1907 Luther became a town councillor in Magdeburg. Six years later he was elected secretary of the German Stadtegag, a post he held until becoming mayor of Essen in 1918.
Luther proved to be a successful administrator and in December, 1922, Chancellor Wilhelm Cuno appointed him minister of food and agriculture. This was followed with the post of finance minister under Gustav Stresemann. He also held the post under Wilhelm Marx and in 1924 was involved in the negotiation of the Dawes Plan.
In the General Election that took place in December, 1924, the decline in the support for the Catholic Centre Party forced Wilhelm Marx from office. Luther now became chancellor and joined with his foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann, to negotiate the Locarno Treaty (1925). The signing of this treaty resulted in the Nationalist Party (DNVP) withdrawing its support for the government and Luther was forced to resign.
Luther returned to office in January, 1926 when he formed a minority government without the support of right-wing political parties. However, after losing a vote of no confidence in May, 1926, Luther resigned as chancellor and retired from politics.
In 1930 Luther replaced Hjalmar Schacht as president of the Reichsbank This was followed by the appointment of Luther as Germany's ambassador to the United States (1933-37).
Luther lived in retirement during the Second World War but returned to public life in 1945 when he worked as an adviser to the new government in West Germany. He also taught politics at the Munich University. Hans Luther died in Dusseldorf on 11th May, 1962.
Martin Luther and the 95 Theses
Born in Eisleben, Germany, in 1483, Martin Luther went on to become one of Western history’s most significant figures. Luther spent his early years in relative anonymity as a monk and scholar. But in 1517 Luther penned a document attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to absolve sin. His Theses,” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation. Although these ideas had been advanced before, Martin Luther codified them at a moment in history ripe for religious reformation. The Catholic Church was ever after divided, and the Protestantism that soon emerged was shaped by Luther’s ideas. His writings changed the course of religious and cultural history in the West.
This is a list of 100 famous Germans, including statesmen such as: Adenauer, Brandt, Merkel, and cultural figures such as Bach, Goethe and Gutenberg.
1. Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) West Germany’s first chancellor after the Second World War (1949-63). He played a key role in the re-integration of Germany in European and international affairs. He forged closer ties with France, US and the European Community.
2. Martin Luther (1483-1546) Luther Sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church which he felt had been corrupted and lost its original focus. Considered the father of Protestantism for his reforming zeal.
3. Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) – German philosopher, exiled to Britain for his radical views. Karl Marx wrote Das Capital and The Communist Manifesto, which was hugely influential in shaping left-wing thought.
4. Sophie and Hans Scholl (1921/ 1918 -1943) – The Scholls opposed the Nazi ideology of Hitler’s Germany and distributed anti-Nazi propaganda to students in Munich. Both were executed for high treason.
5. Willy Brandt (1913-1992) German politician and statesman. Opposed to Hitler, he fled to Norway in 1933. After the war, he became Mayor of Berlin. As Chancellor of Germany, he made a famous gesture of reconciliation to victims of Nazi Germany in Warsaw. He sought rapprochement with the East and a united Europe.
6. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) German composer and musician. Considered one of greatest composers of all time. Bach composed some of the most loved choral and orchestral works.
7. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Poet, playwright, author and statesman. Goethe was a prolific writer, notable works including: Faust, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship and Elective Affinities. Also a noted polymath, Goethe left a rich cultural legacy.
8. Johannes Gutenberg (1400-1468) Inventor of movable type printing in Europe. Gutenberg started a ‘printing revolution which enabled the spread of printed works across Europe. Also produced the ‘Gutenberg Bible’.
9. Angela Merkel (1954 – ) Leader of Christian Democrat Union (CDU). Merkel has been chancellor of Germany since 2005. Merkel has also gained a position as de facto leader of the European Union and has made many decisions affecting European integration and the European financial crisis.
10. Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) Politician responsible for the creation of German Empire in 1871, and its first chancellor. Bismark is credited with uniting the states of Germany and pursuing a relative moderate foreign policy of keeping the peace.
Other Famous Germans
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-born theoretical physicist who came up with the general theory of relativity, which played a key role in the nuclear age. Einstein also a noted humanitarian who promoted peace.
Beethoven (1770 – 1827) German composer born in Bonn, then capital of Electorate of Cologne. Beethoven was a musical genius who bridged classical and romantic periods. Beethoven wrote nine symphonies, five concertos for piano, numerous chamber music, and choral works, including Missa Solemnis).
Oskar Schindler (1908 – 1974) An ethnic German who joined the Abwehr and later Nazi party. He was a businessman who successfully protected over 1,000 Jews employed in his factory.
Mozart (1756 – 1791) Austrian classical composer. Mozart is considered one of greatest composers of all time, writing over 600 classical works.
Michael Schumacher (1969 – ) Born in Hurth, West Germany. Schumacher is a retired German motor racing driver. Seven times World Champion – considered the greatest driver of the modern age.
Steffi Graf (1969 – ) Born in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles – the highest number in the Open era. Was world number one for a record 377 weeks.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945 ) A Lutheran Pastor who was an influential critic of Hitler and Nazism, executed in 1945. He publically spoke against the Nazi policy of euthanasia and the murder of Jews.
Boris Becker (1967 – ) Born in Leimen, Germany. Becker was an outstanding tennis player, winning six grand slam singles titles and 49 career titles, including the youngest player (17) to win Wimbledon.
Martin Niemöller (1892 – 1984) Lutheran pastor and anti-nazi theologian. Born in Wiesbaden. He was a founder of the Confessional church which sought to reject the Nazification of churches.
Hildegard von Bingen (1097 – 1179) German writer, mystic, composer and polymath. Hildegard was considered one of the most educated and influential people of her generation, at a time when women rarely played any significant role in society.
Claus von Stauffenberg (1907 – 1944) An aristocratic German military officer born in Jettingen-Scheppach. Stauffenberg was a principal member of the resistance to Hitler within the Wehrmacht. He led the unsuccessful July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler.
Max Planck (1858 – 1947) German theoretical physicist who contributed to the development of Quantum Mechanics. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.
Bernhard Lichtenberg (1875 – 1943) A Roman Catholic Priest who condemned the Nazi policy towards Jews and the policy of euthanasia. For his criticism of Nazi policy, he was sent to Dachau concentration camp, where he died in transit.
Otto Hahn (1879-1968)German chemist born in Frankfurt. Hahn discovered nuclear fission (1939) and was a pioneering scientist in the field of radio-chemistry. Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1944)
Meister Eckhart (1260- 1327) German mystic, theologian and philosopher born in Gotha, Thuringia. Eckhart’s practical spiritual philosophy was popular and an indirect challenge to the teachings of the church.
George Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759) German-born composer who spent a lot of time in England. He wrote operas and oratorios. He was court composer for Prince George, the Elector of Hanover. Ironically, after living many years in London, Prince George became King George I of England and found his court composer was already there in London.
Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) Influential German philosopher born in Königsberg. Kant’s ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ sought to unite reason with experience and move philosophy on from the debate between rationalists and empiricists.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) Born in Hamburg. Mendelssohn was a German composer of the romantic period. Mendelssohn wrote symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music and chamber music.
Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883) German composer who wrote epic operas such as the Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung).
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) Born in Hamburg, Brahms was a German composer who spent most of his life in Austria.
Karl Benz (1844–1929), German inventor and entrepreneur. Benz developed the first practical petrol-powered car, gaining patent in 1879. Benz also became a successful manufacturer.
Rudolf Diesel (1858–1913) Born in Paris, to German parents, Diesel was the inventor of the diesel engine in the early 1890s. Diesel sought to build an engine which had much greater efficiency than the petrol engine.
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) German-American actress born in Schöneberg . Dietrich’s career spanned several decades from silent movies to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Walter Hallstein (1901 – 1982) German diplomat and statesman born in Stuttgart. Hallstein was one of the key architects of the European Coal and Steel Community – the forerunner of the EEC.
- Helmut Kohl, West German chancellor from 1982-1998, important figure for Germany’s Reunification (born 1930)
- Samuel Hahnemann, physician (1755-1843) – Quantum physicist (1901-1976)
- Adolph Kolping, priest (1813-1865)
- Robert Bosch, inventor and industrialist (1861-1942)
- Daniel Küblböck, singer (born 1985)
- Konrad Zuse, computer inventor (1910-1995)
- Josef Kentenich, priest (1885-1968)
- Albert Schweitzer, physician and philanthropist (1875-1965)
- Karlheinz Böhm, actor and charity activist (born 1928)
- Helmut Schmidt, West German chancellor from 1974-1982 (born 1918)
- Regine Hildebrandt, politician (1941-2001)
- Alice Schwarzer, feminist journalist (born 1942)
- Thomas Gottschalk, TV host (born 1950)
- Herbert Grönemeyer, musician (born 1956)
- Ludwig Erhard, West German chancellor, creator of the Wirtschaftswunder in the 1950s (1897-1977)
- Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, physicist (1845-1923)
- Günther Jauch, television celebrity and journalist (born 1956)
- Dieter Bohlen, television celebrity and music producer (born 1954)
- Jan Ullrich, athlete (cycling) (born 1973)
- Franz Beckenbauer, athlete (football), coach and organiser (born 1945)
- Nena, singer (born 1960)
- Hans-Dietrich Genscher, politician (born 1927)
- Heinz Rühmann, actor (1902-1994)
- Harald Schmidt, comedian (born 1957)
- Frederick II of Prussia (“Frederick the Great”) king (1712-1786)
- Patrick Lindner, singer (born 1960)
- Hartmut Engler, singer (born 1961)
- Robert Koch, physician (1843-1910)
- Joschka Fischer, Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor from 1998-2005 (born 1948)
- Karl May, writer (1842-1912)
- Loriot (Vicco von Bülow), satirist (born 1923)
- Albertus Magnus, scholar (1200-1280)
- Rudi Völler, athlete (football) (born 1960)
- Richard von Weizsäcker, Federal President from 1984-1994 (born 1920)
- Heinz Erhardt, comedian (1909-1979)
- Roy Black, singer and actor (1943-1991)
- Heinz-Harald Frentzen, racing driver (born 1967)
- Wolfgang Apel, animal rights activist (born 1951)
- Alexander von Humboldt, scientist (1769-1859)
- Peter Kraus, singer (born 1939)
- Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist (1912-1977)
- Dirk Nowitzki, athlete (basketball) (born 1978)
- Campino, singer (Die Toten Hosen) (born 1962)
- Franz Josef Strauß, politician (1915-1988)
- Sebastian Kneipp, physician (1821-1897)
- Friedrich Schiller, writer (1759-1805)
- Katarina Witt, athlete (figure skating) (born 1965)
- Fritz Walter, athlete (football), captain of 1954 world championship winners (1920-2002)
- Nicole, singer (born 1964)
- Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, priest (1831-1910)
- Otto Lilienthal, aviation pioneer (1848-1896)
- Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, editor (1909-2002)
- Thomas Mann, writer (1875-1955)
- Hermann Hesse, writer (1877-1962)
- Romy Schneider, actress (1938-1982)
- Sven Hannawald, athlete (ski jumping) (born 1974)
- Elisabeth of Bavaria (“Sissi”), royal consort (1837-1898)
- Willy Millowitsch, actor and comedian (1909-1999)
- Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor from 1998-2005 (born 1944)
- Joseph Beuys, artist (1921-1986)
- Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)
- Rudi Dutschke, student leader in the 1960s (1940-1979)
- Karl Lehmann, priest (born 1936)
- Trümmerfrauen (“rubble women”), rebuilding Germany after the war
- Carl Friedrich Gauss, mathematician and physicist (1777-1855)
- Helmut Rahn, athlete (football), scorer of winning goal in 1954 (1929-2003)
- Albrecht Dürer, artist (1471-1528)
- Max Schmeling, athlete (boxing) (1905-2005)
- Frederick II, emperor (1194-1250)
- Reinhard Mey, singer-songwriter (born 1942)
- Heinrich Heine, writer (1797-1856)
- Georg Elser, Hitler assassin (1903-1945)
- Konrad Duden, linguist (1829-1911)
- James Last, composer (born 1929)
This list is partly inspired by a German TV programme Unsere Besten (“Our Best”) shown on German public television (ZDF) in November 2003, similar to the BBC series 100 Greatest Britons.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Germans”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 16 March 2015. Last updated 4 Feb 2018.
Germany: Memories of a Nation
Famous Musicians – Famous musicians from classical music to popular music. Including Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and John Lennon.
People who changed the world – Famous people who changed the course of history including Socrates, Newton, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Einstein and Gandhi.
Famous Swiss. A list of famous Swiss people. It includes authors, sportstars, scientists, political figures and artists. Includes Roger Federer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Martina Hingis and Carl Jung.
Wedding of Interest
1382-01-20 King Richard II of England marries Anne of Bohemia and daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor at Westminster Abbey. Anne dies of plague in 1394.
- Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, weds Mary of Burgundy, the heiress to the Duchy of Burgundy in Ghent, Belgium
Wedding of Interest
1526-03-10 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V marries Princess Isabella of Portugal, his 1st cousin, in Seville
Wedding of Interest
1707-10-17 German composer Johann S Bach marries for the 1st time his cousin Maria Barbara Bach
Wedding of Interest
1733-06-12 King of Prussia Frederick the Great (21) weds duchess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (18) at Schloss Salzdahlum in Wolfenbüttel, Germany
Wedding of Interest
1764-08-05 Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II (17) weds queen Maria Luisa of Spain (18) in Innsbruck, Austria
Wedding of Interest
1806-10-14 German writer, artist and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe marries mistress Christiane Vulpius in Weimar
Wedding of Interest
1837-03-28 German composer Felix Mendelssohn (27) marries Cécile Jeanrenaud (20)
Wedding of Interest
1843-06-19 Philosopher Karl Marx (25) weds Jenny von Westphalen in Germany
Wedding of Interest
1870-08-25 German composer Richard Wagner (57) weds Franz Liszt's daughter Cosima Liszt (32) at a Protestant church in Lucerne, Switzerland
Wedding of Interest
1886-09-14 Neurologist Sigmund Freud (30) weds Martha Bernays (25) in Hamburg, Germany
Wedding of Interest
1904-01-28 German chancellor Konrad Adenauer (28) weds Emma Weyer at St. Stephan Catholic Church in Lindenthal, Germany
Wedding of Interest
1905-02-11 Novelist Thomas Mann (29) weds Katia Pringsheim (21) in Munich, Germany
Wedding of Interest
1920-07-05 Foreign Minister of the German Reich Joachim von Ribbentrop (27) weds Anna Elisabeth Henkell
Wedding of Interest
1923-01-03 German politician Hermann Goering (30) weds Carin Hulda (34)
The truth about Hans Asperger’s Nazi collusion
Simon Baron-Cohen is director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK, and president of the International Society for Autism Research.
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A ward in the Am Spiegelgrund clinic in Vienna, in the 1940s. Courtesy of the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance.
Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna Edith Sheffer W. W. Norton (2018)
The Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger has long been recognized as a pioneer in the study of autism. He was even seen as a hero, saving children with the condition from the Nazi killing programme by emphasizing their intelligence. However, it is now indisputable that Asperger collaborated in the murder of children with disabilities under the Third Reich.
Historian Herwig Czech fully documented this in the April 2018 issue of Molecular Autism (a journal I co-edit see H. Czech Mol. Autism 9, 29 2018). Now, historian Edith Sheffer’s remarkable book Asperger’s Children builds on Czech’s study with her own original scholarship. She makes a compelling case that the foundational ideas of autism emerged in a society that strove for the opposite of neurodiversity.
These findings cast a shadow on the history of autism, already a long struggle towards accurate diagnosis, societal acceptance and support. The revelations are also causing debate among autistic people, their families, researchers and clinicians over whether the diagnostic label of Asperger’s syndrome should be abandoned.
In 1981, psychiatrist Lorna Wing published the paper in Psychological Medicine that first brought Asperger’s clinical observations to the attention of the English-speaking medical world, and coined the term Asperger’s syndrome (L. Wing Psychol. Med. 11, 115–129 1981). A decade later, in the book Autism and Asperger Syndrome (1991), developmental psychologist Uta Frith translated into English the 1944 treatise by Asperger in which he claimed to have discovered autism.
Finally, in 1994, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognized the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome in the fourth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). The syndrome is characterized by strengths such as unusually deep, narrow interests, and challenges in social communication and interaction, in people with average IQ or above and no history of language delay. (In the 2013 revision of the DSM, the APA deleted Asperger’s syndrome in favour of a single category, autism spectrum disorder.)
Hans Asperger with children at the University Pediatric Clinic in Vienna, around 1940. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd./Alamy
In digging anew into the deeper historical context of Asperger’s work, Sheffer fills in parts of the story anticipated in John Donvan and Caren Zucker’s history of autism, In a Different Key (2016 see B. Kiser Nature 530, 159 2016), which referred to Czech’s early findings. Sheffer reveals how the Nazi aim of engineering a society they deemed ‘pure’, by killing people they saw as unworthy of life, led directly to the Holocaust.
With insight and careful historical research, Sheffer uncovers how, under Hitler’s regime, psychiatry — previously based on compassion and empathy — became part of an effort to classify the population of Germany, Austria and beyond as ‘genetically’ fit or unfit. In the context of the ‘euthanasia’ killing programmes, psychiatrists and other physicians had to determine who would live and who would be murdered. It is in this context that diagnostic labels such as ‘autistic psychopathy’ (coined by Asperger) were created.
Sheffer lays out the evidence, from sources such as medical records and referral letters, showing that Asperger was complicit in this Nazi killing machine. He protected children he deemed intelligent. But he also referred several children to Vienna’s Am Spiegelgrund clinic, which he undoubtedly knew was a centre of ‘child euthanasia’, part of what was later called Aktion T4.
This was where the children whom Nazi practitioners labelled ‘genetically inferior’ were murdered, because they were seen as incapable of social conformity, or had physical or psychological conditions judged undesirable. Some were starved, others given lethal injections. Their deaths were recorded as due to factors such as pneumonia.
Sheffer argues that Asperger supported the Nazi goal of eliminating children who could not fit in with the Volk: the fascist ideal of a homogeneous Aryan people.
Both Czech and Sheffer include details on two unrelated children, Herta Schreiber and Elisabeth Schreiber, and their referral letters, signed by Asperger. In these, the paediatrician justifies Herta’s referral to Am Spiegelgrund because she “must be an unbearable burden to the mother” and Elisabeth’s, because “in the family, the child is without a doubt a hardly bearable burden”. These provide proof that he effectively signed their death warrants.
Nearly 800 children were killed in Am Spiegelgrund. Asperger went on to enjoy a long academic career, dying in 1980.
Both Asperger’s Children and Czech’s paper converge on the same conclusion. Personally, I no longer feel comfortable with naming the diagnosis after Hans Asperger. In any case, this is a category rendered moot in the most recent edition of the DSM (used in the United States). European nations will follow this diagnostic lead in 2019, with the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases.
The future use of the term, of course, is a discussion that must incorporate the views of autistic people. Many take pride in the term Asperger’s syndrome as part of their identity, feeling it refers to their personality and cognitive style, which obviously do not change simply because of historical revelations. They might not, therefore, want a change. Others have already written about switching to using ‘autism’ (or autism spectrum disorder, or autism spectrum condition) to describe their diagnosis.
For brevity and neutrality, I favour the single term autism. However, because of the considerable heterogeneity among autistic people, I think it could be helpful for them and their families — together with autism researchers, clinicians and relevant professionals — to discuss whether subtypes should be introduced.
When Wing coined the term Asperger’s syndrome, none of us was aware of Hans Asperger’s active support of the Nazi programme. As a result of the historical research by Sheffer and Czech, we now need to revise our views, and probably also our language. Asperger’s Children should be read by any student of psychology, psychiatry or medicine, so that we learn from history and do not repeat its terrifying mistakes. The revelations in this book are a chilling reminder that the highest priority in both clinical research and practice must be compassion.
Church records are the most important sources of genealogical information available for German research. Most provable lineages, outside of noble ones, rarely can be traced back further than the early church records. Since German unification did not take place until 1871, most civil recording of birth, marriage, and death information did not begin until after that date. Therefore church records are the source of earlier genealogical information needed by the researcher.
The principal records are the birth, marriage, and death registers for Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic congregations. Among smaller sects, such as the Anabaptists, church records were not always kept, probably because such records would have exposed their membership to possible persecution.
A few church records (Kirchenbücher) date back to the end of the 15th century, but most begin during the Reformation, usually around 1550. The Council of Trent (1545-47) ordered local parish priests to begin recording all marriages, births, and deaths. Protestant records tend to predate Catholic records. The earliest records tend to be in the western Germanic areas. In the German Baltic areas they begin early in the 17th century, but many of these records are missing. In the German enclaves in southeastern Europe and Russia, church records begin even later. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), many records were destroyed. Because of this reason, for many German churches records begin around 1650.
The baptismal records (Taufregister) record baptismal date, sometimes the birth date, the names of the parents and the child, and the godparents (Paten). The godparents were often relatives or close friends of one of the parents. Related records can also be used to determine birth dates: the Patenzettel (invitation of the godparents to attend the baptism more common to nobility than peasants) records of the special municipal tax levied on the celebration of the baptism and the birth certificates issued when the child applied to learn a trade or profession. Births of stillborn or unbaptized children only appear in the death registers.
It has been estimated that illegitimate births may have comprised around 15% of overall births, depending on living arrangements, on laws relating to marriage, on poverty rates, on customs concerning women's work, and other social factors. Many of these illegitimate births were legitimized by the subsequent marriage of their parents. Christening records may have the abbreviation pmsl, standing for per matrimonium subsequens legitmata (or legitmatus, depending on the gender of the child). This notation indicates that the premarital child of a couple was legitimized by the subsequent marriage of its parents. Generally, the mother's name was crossed out and the father's name substituted, a procedure frequent in the 19th century. The Church considered illegitimacy to be immoral, and recorded all deviant behavior. Often ridicule, shame and mockery were aimed at the mother. At times, clergymen recorded illegitimate births/christening upside down in the church books.
Marriage registers (Trauregister) recorded the marriage in the bride's church, where the nuptials took place. They normally contain the name and profession of the groom, with or without the names of his parents, the name of the bride, and usually those of her parents. Widows used the surnames of their deceased husbands. Churches also had a register of proclamation of banns (Proklamationsbuch) in the groom's church. A final proclamation was entered on the Sunday preceding the day of marriage. Marriage celebrations were also subject to municipal taxation and such records may be found among the municipal records.
The death registers (Sterberegister) give the name of the deceased person and ordinarily the profession, age, and cause of death. The age of the individual is often inaccurate. Additional death information may be found in the death knell book (Totengeläutbuch), which recorded the tolling of the bell, usually the third day after death. Among Lutherans, particularly in the upper classes, it was customary from about 1550 to 1800 to have the funeral sermons (Leichenpredigte) printed and distributed to friends and relatives. These publications included information on the life of the deceased, listing the names of his near relatives and his ancestors.
Other church records include confirmation, communion, and confession lists, family registers (Familienregister), and notes on penances (Kirchenstrafen). As there were no requirements for these records, they were infrequent and inconsistent. Records on Lutheran ministers are especially complete.
Garrison towns in German normally maintained marriage and death records for soldiers separately. The birth records of the children of soldiers may be found in the ordinary baptismal records or among the military chaplaincy records (Militärkirchenbücher). (Smith, Clifford. Encyclopedia of German-American Genealogical Research).
Languages found in German church records include:
German -- using Gothic handwriting.
Latin -- in Roman script (in Catholic areas until about 1806 in Protestant areas until the mid-16th century or later)
French -- in Alsace-Lorraine, Rhineland, Palatinate, and Hessen before 1815, after which the language changed to German
Alarm as German anti-maskers co-opt Nazi resister Sophie Scholl
Sophie Scholl, the German resistance figure executed by the Nazis who was born 100 years ago on Sunday, has become an emblem of courage and a national hero for many.
But the legacy of the young woman sentenced to a brutal death for distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets has recently been co-opted by Germany's anti-lockdown movement, to the dismay of historians and the Jewish community.
At a demonstration in April, one woman had a placard featuring a picture of Sophie Scholl draped on string around her shoulders.
"The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace," it read -- words famously pronounced by the resistance campaigner.
Even one of her nephews, Julian Aicher, has prominently spoken at corona sceptic demonstrations, including on a stage decorated with white roses -- evoking the name of Scholl's resistance group.
In a country where right-wing extremism is seen as the number one threat to security, and where a record number of xenophobic and anti-Semitic crimes were recorded in 2020, historians say the misappropriation of Scholl's memory is deeply alarming.
Some also warn that democracy itself is being attacked at a time when living witnesses of World War II have dwindled significantly in numbers.
"By trivialising the Holocaust and dictatorship, these activists are endangering democracy," said Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria's anti-Semitism commissioner.
- Fourth favourite German -
On February 22, 1943, Scholl and her older brother Hans, both members of a small resistance group called the White Rose, were beheaded in the Stadelheim prison in Bavaria following a summary trial.
They had been found guilty of distributing pamphlets on the grounds of Munich University, having converted to the resistance after being exposed to the horrors of the Third Reich as members of Nazi organisations in their teens.
Sophie Scholl, born on May 9, 1921, has become the most famous face of the resistance movement, with surviving photos showing her distinctive cropped hair and determined smile.
Hundreds of schools and streets now bear her name, and in 2003 she was named the nation's fourth favourite German behind Konrad Adenauer, Martin Luther and Karl Marx.
The country's political class also like to evoke the memory of the young biology student who stood up to the Nazis.
Annalena Baerbock, the Green party's candidate to become Germany's next chancellor after Angela Merkel retires in the autumn, has named Scholl as one of her "heroes".
Carola Rackete, the former captain of the Sea-Watch 3 migrant rescue ship, has said if Scholl were still alive, she would be part of the Antifa left-wing political movement.
But at the other end of the political spectrum, the far-right AfD also claimed in 2017 that Scholl would have given them her vote.
And now the resistance campaigner's image has been hijacked by protesters against coronavirus restrictions in Germany, who have often sought to compare themselves with victims of the Nazis.
- 'Vaccination makes you free' -
Some protesters have been seen wearing yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis, carrying the words "not vaccinated".
Others have worn concentration camp uniforms and carried placards with the words "Impfen macht frei" ("Vaccination makes you free"), a reference to the "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free") inscription at the entrance to Auschwitz.
"I feel like Sophie Scholl, because I've been active in the resistance for months," one protester told a rally against virus restrictions in Hanover in November, leading to widespread condemnation.
"Followers of conspiracy theories like to imagine themselves as victims, while demonising and delegitimising the democratic field," Samuel Salzborn, the city of Berlin's point man on anti-Semitism, told AFP.
Another nephew of Scholl's, Joerg Hartnagel, told German media Saturday that her cooption by the demonstrators was "a misuse of her name".
He added that he "clearly rejects these attempts to identify the protests against hygiene rules with (anti-Nazi) resistance".
According to Jens-Christian Wagner, a German historian who specialises in the Nazi era, the appropriation of Sophie Scholl by the anti-mask movement shows a loss of "historical awareness" among parts of the German population.
There are "almost no remaining witnesses" to the Nazi era, Wagner told AFP.
"They can no longer defend themselves when they are instrumentalised or when the far right rewrites history and the present by reversing guilt. It worries me," he said.
Germany's domestic intelligence agency has said it will monitor the "Querdenker" (Lateral Thinkers) movement, a particularly vocal anti-lockdown group, over concerns it poses a threat to democracy and has ties to right-wing extremism.
The Story Behind the Song – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Probably, one of the greatest hymns written by the greatest man of the greatest period of German history is the song "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". It has been called "The Battle Hymn of the Reformation". This song was written by the great German reformer Martin Luther. Let us look briefly at the man, Martin Luther. Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483 to Hans and Margaretha Luder in Eisleben Germany. Hans, Martin's father, owned a copper mine in Mansfield. Having the finances to do so, and having come from a very modest peasantry himself, Martin's father Hans was determined that Martin would be raised with dignity and have a future in civil servitude. Martin attended schools in Mansfield, Magdeburg and Eisenach Germany. When Martin Luther was seventeen he enrolled in the University of Erfurt in the year 1501. He received his Bachelor's degree in only one year and his Master's degree three years later. As soon as a completed his Master's degree, he enrolled in the law school of the University of Erfurt.
One day in the year 1505 while walking in the woods, Martin Luther got caught in a terrible thunderstorm and he began to run to seek shelter at the school but before he reached the safety of the school lightening struck near where he was running. It was so close to him in fact that he cried out to St. Anne "Help, St. Anne! I'll become a monk!" (according to catholic tradition St. Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary). Martin Luther survived the near death experience and true to his word, he dropped out of law school and entered the monastery.
Young Martin Luther dedicated himself fully to the life of a monk. He put forth every effort to please God and to do good works. He devoted his life to religious fast and flagellations (A beating or whipping a flogging the discipline of the scourge) long pilgrimages and many hours in prayer as well as constant confession. The closer he tried to get to God and the more he did to do to gain God's favor, the more aware he became of his sinfulness.
Martin Luther's superior, Johann Von Staupitz thought that he needed more work to distract him and occupy his mind. He ordered young Luther to pursue a career in academics. In 1507, at the age of 24, Martin Luther was ordained and in 1508 he began to teach theology at the University of Wittenberg. March 9, 1508 Martin Luther earned his Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies and in 1509 he earned a Bachelor's degree in the Sentences (the main textbook of theology in the Middle Ages) The University of Wittenberg conferred upon him the Doctor of Theology on October 19, 1509.
Though he lived the life of a monk without reproach, Martin felt that he was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. After meditating on the "In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.'" he began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith and Martin Luther was saved by the grace of God.
It was in the year 1517, to be more precise, it was Halloween of 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg. In his Theses he accused the Roman Catholic organization of many heresies, particularly the Dominican priest Johann Tetzel and the selling of indulgences. Johann Tetzel died two years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door. According to Martin Luther's own testimony, it was after the death of Tetzel that he himself was saved.
Martin Luther was the first to translate and publish the Bible in the common language of the German people. He used Erasmus' 1516 critical Greek edition text, which later came to be know as the Textus Receptus (the received text) from which our King James Bible was translated. Luther published his German New Testament translation in 1522 and completed the Old Testament resulting in an entire German language Bible in 1534. About this same time, Martin Luther became a friend and confidant of William Tyndale who translated the Textus Receptus into English.
It was in 1529 that Martin Luther wrote "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and it has been called "The Battle Hymn of the Reformation. This hymn presents an exception in its tune in the fact that it is sung pretty much as Luther wrote it. There are some different variations as far as the rhythm is concerned.
The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 46. We will examine the verses, which of course have been translated from German to English, for their doctrinal content. We will use the version by Frederick Henry Hedge translated in 1853, this is the most popular English version although it has been translated into English at least seventy times.
Let us compare the first verse with Psalm 46.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe
His craft and pow'r are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
As you examine these lines and compare it to Psalm 46 verse 1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." You can easily see where his thought came from. Another English translation of this hymn, by Thomas Carlyle, opens with the line, "A safe stronghold our God is still" but I personally prefer "A mighty fortress is our God". Keeping in mind that this hymn was written between 1527 and 1529, this was during the period of exile and during the time he was translating the Old Testament.
In 1520 Luther had been condemned for his Protestant views by Pope Leo X and commanded to renounce or reaffirm his 95 Theses. He was given 24 hours to consider his choice. He did apologize for his harsh tone, but reaffirmed his belief in his Theses. After knowing all of these circumstances, understanding that he was now in hiding in exile, you can understand the verse much better. He talks about in the latter part of the verse how "the ancient foe doth seek to us woe" and his pow'r and hate, it is clear to see that he equates the Roman Papacy with the Devil. He writes about how that "on earth is not his equal" most likely referring to the fact that at this time, this was the height of the power of the Roman Papacy and there was no power on earth that could equal them, but his confidence was not in any earthly protection, or fortress, he was looking to God.
Again, we refer back to Psalm 46 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea" consider the second line "amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing" in light of Psalm 46:2. The word "refuge" in verse 1 is from a verb that means to flee, and then to flee to, or to take shelter in, it, according to Albert Barnes, "denotes a place to which one would flee in time of danger - as a lofty wall a high tower a fort a fortress."
The theological doctrine found in the lines of Martin Luther's song is the that of faithfulness, God's faithfulness, this reminds us of Hebrews 6:18, "That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:" It is a comfort to know that you can flee to God for refuge, you can trust him. It is interesting to note, that even though Luther was condemned to death, he escaped martyrdom and died of natural causes.
Look briefly at verse two:
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
The first lines remind me of Philippians 3:3 ". and have no confidence in the flesh." Our flesh is weak, warped and wicked and cannot be trusted. Luther had it right in the third line, the right man on our side. The man of God's own choosing, Revelation 13:8 declares that Jesus was ". the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." God did not have to search through heaven or come up with a secondary plan when Adam fell in the garden, Calvary was in the mind of God when he created the heavens and the earth. When God took Adam up in his arms and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul, God had already determined that Jesus would die to redeem fallen man.
The Lord Sabaoth is Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts. According to Amos 4:13 "For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name" The "God of hosts" is Jehovah Sabaoth. Amos gives us a clear and concise description of God's attributes of sovereignty, omniscience and omnipotence. We also find another accurate description of Jehovah Sabaoth in Isaiah 6:3 "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."
Our first introduction to the Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord Sabaoth, that Martin Luther refers to in his second verse, is in I Samuel 1, the very familiar story of Hannah. Hannah was barren, she was one of two wives of Elkanah, and she had the natural desire of a woman, to be a mother. She made a promise to the Lord, Jehovah Sabaoth, Jehovah of Host, the mighty tower that she would give her child back to God. The Lord of host opened her womb and Samuel was born, she did just what she had promised, she gave him back to God and God greatly used Samuel. The Lord Sabaoth is the Lord of hosts of I Samuel 1:3. No doubt, in his personal study, Martin Luther was aware of this, and he himself, in his exile, had fled to the mighty fortress, Lord Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts.
There are two more occasions in the book of I Samuel where we find Jehovah Sabaoth. The first of these two encounters is another very familiar story, it is the story of David and Goliath. David is facing the giant and tells him ". thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts. " This can easily be seen in the opening lines of Martin Luther's second verse "Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing" Martin Luther could relate to David in his own battle against the giant Roman papacy.
Both Hannah and David had fled to and called upon the name of Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts, and had experienced deliverance. Martin Luther had experienced this deliverance himself and it is comforting to know that we too can call upon Jehovah Sabaoth, but there is an instance in I Samuel 4 when Israel is defeated and the ark of the covenant is stolen by the Philistines. Upon careful study of the context of this defeat, you will see that Israel was trusting in the Ark of God rather than the God of the Ark. They were using the Ark and looking to the Ark as a lucky charm so to speak. But David later corrected this and restored the Ark to its rightful place by trusting in the God of the host, the Lord of host, Jehovah Sabaoth. We can learn the lesson from this to trust in the Lord. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Martin Luther knew from experience what he was writing about in those lines.
4 Robert Ritter Von Greim
One of the masterminds behind the aerial attacks on England, including the famous Battle of Britain, Robert Ritter von Greim was an airman for the Luftwaffe. He would later move up the ranks to field marshal, where he would continue the German terror from the air upon Allied forces. He was also a major figure in planning Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union.
On May 8, 1945, von Greim was captured in Austria by American soldiers. On May 24, he killed himself while in custody in Salzburg by crushing a cyanide capsule in his mouth. 
In reality, definitions of defects were elastic &mdash shifting with time, place and actors. Even Jewishness, which might seem a clear category, had convoluted criteria in the 1935 Nuremberg Laws and, later, in debates over the fate of Mischlinge, or half-Jews. Officials were also unclear on how many biologically inferior individuals there were estimates ranged from one million up to 13 million, as many as one in five Germans. Decisions to arrest, deport and kill could come down to individual people and agencies making individual classifications.
The Reich&rsquos efforts to reengineer the population were variegated. While Auschwitz and gas chambers may dominate public imagination, it is important to recognize just how widespread &mdash and quotidian &mdash brutality became.
There were at least 42,000 camps across German-occupied Europe: 980 concentration camps, 1,150 Jewish ghettos, 500 forced brothels, 1,000 camps for prisoners of war, and 30,000 slave labor camps, in addition to unknown thousands of transit centers and lethal medical facilities. Millions were involved in their staffing. Each place required administrators, guards, maintenance crews, cooks, insurers, truck drivers, food sellers and suppliers. Each required people in the community to look the other way.
In contrast to mechanized images of the Holocaust, child-killing involved personal deliberation of individual cases. This was intimate, done by the very doctors and nurses who cared for the children&rsquos daily needs. Asperger and his colleagues had a godlike autonomy to determine a child&rsquos worthiness to exist. They were not following a clear rulebook, but deciding life and death on a case-by-case basis &mdash talking to the children directly, meeting their parents and studying them closely over time. Far from his postwar reputation as a resister, Asperger worked within a system of mass killing as a conscious participant, very much tied to his world and to its horrors.
Having now finished my book, it is ironic that my research took me to the opposite perspective from where I started. I wish I had been able to tell a heroic story about Asperger. But it is more important that the full history of Asperger and his work in Nazi Vienna becomes known, and not only for discussions about autism and Asperger’s syndrome. His is a cautionary tale about the power and proliferation of labels &mdash as science, state and society seek to order the human condition.
Edith Sheffer, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is author of the forthcoming book Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna.