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Famous scholars from Kiel:

Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann

A co-author of the constitution drawn up in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt in 1848/49, Dahlmann was associate Professor of History at Kiel University from 1812 to 1829.

For Professor Thomas Riis from the History Department Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann's outstanding contribution was in his political activity, for which he sought inspiration in history. "Dahlmann was an early nationalist and fought for the existence of Schleswig-Holstein as a separate state within Germany. That is probably one of his most important legacies today", comments Riis. His scholarly legacy is "Quellenkunde der deutschen Geschichte". The first edition of his bibliography of sources and literature on German history was published in Göttingen in 1830. Revised many times, it became a standard historical reference work and exists in twelve volumes today. Georg Waitz (1813-1886), also a Professor of History in Kiel, completed the work, which is now known as Dahlmann-Waitz.

Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann was born in what was then Swedish-controlled Wismar on 13th May 1785. He studied classical philology in Copenhagen, Halle and Wittenberg, taking his doctorate in Wittenberg in 1810. He qualified as a lecturer in Copenhagen a year later with a thesis on ancient drama. Dahlmann was appointed to lecture in history at Kiel University in 1812 and was appointed Associate Professor of History in 1813, even though he was a classical philologist. He applied his philological method to publishing an edition of Neocorus' chronicle of the region of Dithmarschen (I-II, 1827). Dahlmann was secretary of the Schleswig-Holstein knights from 1815 onwards and vigorously defended their rights. He was still an associate professor in Kiel when he took up an appointment as Professor of Governance, Public Policy and German History in Göttingen in 1829.

Dahlmann achieved academic renown there with his "Quellenkunde der deutschen Geschichte". He also continued to be politically active. He was involved in preparing the Hanoverian draft constitution and was elected to the assembly of the kingdom of Hanover for the university.

He became more widely known as a result of his protest against the Hanoverian king. When Ernest Augustus I of Hanover ascended the throne in 1837 and suspended the constitution, Dahlmann protested at the head of six other Göttingen professors, including the brothers Grimm. They went down in history as the Göttingen Seven. Expelled from Hanover, Dahlmann went to Jena, where he wrote his "Geschichte von Dänemark" (History of Denmark) (up to 1523).

Dahlmann was appointed Professor of German History and Politics at the University of Bonn in 1842. He continued to be regarded as a political authority and the government sought his advice on important university matters. Of his lectures in Bonn particularly those on the English and French revolutions stood out because of their political significance; they were first printed in 1844 and 1845, sold in huge numbers and shaped the political views of the educated citizenry in Germany.

Dahlmann played an important and influential role in the national movement in the year 1848. He took part in the discussions on the German constitution and was sent to the Frankfurt National Assembly as a representative of Prussia. However, the constitution which he had played a major role in drafting did not secure the agreement of the king or the majority in the Frankfurt parliament. After the end of the Frankfurt parliament he at first remained politically engaged, but withdrew from politics in resignation in 1850.

Dahlmann died in Bonn on 5th December 1860.

Kerstin Nees

The Göttingen Seven

In 1837 seven university professors – Wilhelm Eduard Albrecht, Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, Georg Heinrich August Ewald, Georg Gottfried Gervinus, the brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm and Wilhelm Weber – attacked the Hanoverian king Ernest Augustus I, accusing him of illegitimately suspending the constitution of 1833. The leading figure in the group was Dahlmann. The professors were dismissed from their posts by the king and several were expelled from the kingdom. They were accused of not only having signed the protest (known as the “protestation”), but also of having disseminated it. Thousands of copies of the protestation circulated in Germany. This was the work of Göttingen students, who supplied friends, relatives and newspaper editors with the text of the protestation.

The fate of the Göttingen Seven was followed throughout Germany and was a sign of the revival of the liberal movement in large parts of Germany. The seven professors were superstars of the time and their portraits adorned pipebowls and children's toys. In cities across the German states citizens formed "Göttingen clubs", which aimed to secure the salaries of the seven through donations until their reinstatement. This was unprecedented.

For further reading:

Dahlmann-Waitz: Quellenkunde der deutschen Geschichte. Bibliographie der Quellen und der Literatur zur deutschen Geschichte, 10. Edition 1965 ff.

The 10th edition of the reference work looks at German history from its beginnings until 1945. The edition is based on a systematic new evaluation and critically selective assessment of all the publications on German history until the end of this period, a few years before the relevant volume appeared.

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