Unsere Besten

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Unsere Besten ("Our Best") was a television series shown in German public television (ZDF) in November 2003, similar to the BBC series 100 Greatest Britons[1] and that program's spin-offs.

In subsequent years, a dozen similar rankings were compiled, mostly titled the "favourite (topic) of the Germans", with topics including books, places, songs, actors, comedians, sports persons (extra list for football players), inventions, and TV broadcasts (extra list for Olympic games).

The Greatest Germans[edit]

The intention initially was to find out "Who are the greatest Germans?" (Wer sind die größten Deutschen?), with more rankings to follow later. The German public was allowed to vote (via postcard, SMS or Internet) for the most important Germans—historical or contemporary—from a list of more than 300 people, plus additional suggestions.

This pre-determined list of candidates was created for two reasons:

  1. to exclude controversial figures from certain eras of German history, like Adolf Hitler and Erich Honecker;
  2. to decide beforehand who was to be considered as "German" in the first place, due to the complications of German history and its changing frontiers, which could have excluded such people as Mozart and Romy Schneider (Austria) or Albert Schweitzer (France).

However, the inclusion of Nikolaus Kopernikus,[2] who spoke and wrote German, in the list of scientists[3] caused controversy in Poland where he is revered as a national hero – the Polish Senate declared[4] him an "exceptional Pole" on 12 June 2003. Similarly the inclusion of Mozart and Freud was criticized in Austria.

For the final Top Ten, an additional round was held, in which each candidate was promoted by an "ambassador" (most of them journalists) that would explain the work and importance of his/her favourite.

There was controversy over the televoting because of the high call charges associated with the programme.[5]

The final list appeared as shown below (in descending order). Several rather unknown figures ranked relatively high, no doubt because of temporary popularity and organized votes from fan groups (15.), or in case of 125., just an entry by organized Internet forum members to honour one of their members.

Final list[edit]

1. Konrad Adenauer
2. Martin Luther
3. Karl Marx
4. Sophie and Hans Scholl
5. Willy Brandt
6. Johann Sebastian Bach
7. Johann Wolfgang Goethe
8. Johannes Gutenberg
9. Otto von Bismarck
10. Albert Einstein
11. Adolph Kolping
12. Ludwig van Beethoven
13. Helmut Kohl
14. Robert Bosch
16. Konrad Zuse
17. Joseph Kentenich
  1. Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany 1949–1963 (1876–1967)
  2. Martin Luther, leader of the reformation, father of Protestantism (1483–1546)
  3. Karl Marx, political economist, philosopher (1818–1883)
  4. Sophie and Hans Scholl, White Rose young anti-Nazi students (1921/1918-1943)
  5. Willy Brandt, West German chancellor from 1969–1974, implemented the Ostpolitik (1913–1992)
  6. Johann Sebastian Bach, composer (1685–1750)
  7. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer (1749–1832)
  8. Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of movable type printing in Europe (1400–1468)
  9. Otto von Bismarck, politician responsible for creation of German Empire in 1871, and hence its first chancellor (1815–1898)
  10. Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist who discovered the general theory of relativity (1879–1955)
  11. Adolph Kolping, priest (1813–1865)
  12. Ludwig van Beethoven, composer (1770–1827)
  13. Helmut Kohl, West German chancellor from 1982–1998, important figure for Germany's Reunification (born 1930)
  14. Robert Bosch, inventor and industrialist (1861–1942)
  15. Daniel Küblböck, singer (born 1985)
  16. Konrad Zuse, computer inventor (1910–1995)
  17. Joseph Kentenich, priest (1885–1968)
  18. Albert Schweitzer, physician and philanthropist (1875–1965)
  19. Karlheinz Böhm, actor and charity activist (1928–2014)
  20. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer (1756–1791)
  21. Helmut Schmidt, West German chancellor from 1974–1982 (born 1918)
  22. Regine Hildebrandt, politician (1941–2001)
  23. Alice Schwarzer, feminist journalist (born 1942)
  24. Thomas Gottschalk, TV host (born 1950)
  25. Herbert Grönemeyer, musician (born 1956)
  26. Michael Schumacher, racing driver (born 1969)
  27. Ludwig Erhard, west German chancellor, creator of the Wirtschaftswunder in the 1950s (1897–1977)
  28. Wilhelm Röntgen, physicist (1845–1923)
  29. Günther Jauch, television celebrity and journalist (born 1956)
  30. Dieter Bohlen, television celebrity and music producer (born 1954)
  31. Jan Ullrich, athlete (cycling) (born 1973)
  32. Steffi Graf, athlete (tennis) (born 1969)
  33. Samuel Hahnemann, physician (1755–1843)
  34. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian and Nazi victim (1906–1945)
  35. Boris Becker, athlete (tennis) (born 1967)
  36. Franz Beckenbauer, athlete (football), coach and organiser (born 1945)
  37. Oskar Schindler, industrialist, saviour of 1200 Jews, subject of the novel Schindler's Ark and the film Schindler's List (1908–1974)
  38. Nena, singer (born 1960)
  39. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, politician (born 1927)
  40. Heinz Rühmann, actor (1902–1994)
  41. Harald Schmidt, comedian (born 1957)
  42. Frederick II of Prussia ("Frederick the Great") king (1712–1786)
  43. Immanuel Kant, philosopher, leading figure of the Enlightenment (1724–1804)
  44. Patrick Lindner, singer (born 1960)
  45. Hartmut Engler, singer (Pur) (born 1961)
  46. Hildegard von Bingen, nun, writer and musician (1098–1179)
  47. Heino, singer (born 1938)
  48. Richard von Weizsäcker, Federal President from 1984–1994 (born 1920)
  49. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, military officer and Anti-Hitler activist (1907–1944)
  50. Marlene Dietrich, actress and singer (1901–1992)
  51. Robert Koch, physician (1843–1910)
  52. Joschka Fischer, Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998–2005 (born 1948)
  53. Karl May, writer (1842–1912)
  54. Loriot (Vicco von Bülow), satirist (1923–2011)
  55. Albertus Magnus, scholar (1200–1280)
  56. Rudi Völler, athlete (football) (born 1960)
  57. Heinz Erhardt, comedian (1909–1979)
  58. Roy Black, singer and actor (1943–1991)
  59. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, racing driver (born 1967)
  60. Wolfgang Apel (de), animal rights activist (born 1951)
  61. Alexander von Humboldt, scientist (1769–1859)
  62. Peter Kraus, singer (born 1939)
  63. Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist (1912–1977)
  64. Dirk Nowitzki, athlete (basketball) (born 1978)
  65. Campino, singer (Die Toten Hosen) (born 1962)
  66. Franz Josef Strauß, politician (1915–1988)
  67. Sebastian Kneipp, physician (1821–1897)
  68. Friedrich Schiller, writer (1759–1805)
  69. Richard Wagner, composer (1813–1883)
  70. Katarina Witt, athlete (figure skating) (born 1965)
  71. Fritz Walter, footballer, captain of 1954 world championship winners (1920–2002)
  72. Nicole, singer (born 1964)
  73. Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, priest (1831–1910)
  74. Otto Lilienthal, aviation pioneer (1848–1896)
  75. Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, editor (1909–2002)
  76. Thomas Mann, writer (1875–1955)
  77. Hermann Hesse, writer (1877–1962)
  78. Romy Schneider, actress (1938–1982)
  79. Sven Hannawald, athlete (ski jumping) (born 1974)
  80. Empress Elisabeth of Austria ("Sissi"), royal consort (1837–1898)
  81. Willy Millowitsch, actor and comedian (1909–1999)
  82. Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor from 1998–2005 (born 1944)
  83. Joseph Beuys, artist (1921–1986)
  84. Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844–1900)
  85. Rudi Dutschke, student leader in the 1960s (1940–1979)
  86. Karl Lehmann, priest (born 1936)
  87. Beate Uhse, erotica entrepreneur (1919–2001)
  88. Trümmerfrauen ("rubble women"), rebuilding Germany after the war
  89. Carl Friedrich Gauss, mathematician and physicist (1777–1855)
  90. Helmut Rahn, athlete (football), scorer of winning goal in 1954 (1929–2003)
  91. Albrecht Dürer, artist (1471–1528)
  92. Max Schmeling, athlete (boxing) (1905–2005)
  93. Karl Benz, automobile pioneer (1844–1929)
  94. Frederick II, emperor (1194–1250)
  95. Reinhard Mey, singer-songwriter (born 1942)
  96. Heinrich Heine, writer (1797–1856)
  97. Georg Elser, Hitler assassin (1903–1945)
  98. Konrad Duden, linguist (1829–1911)
  99. James Last, composer (born 1929)
  100. Uwe Seeler, athlete (football) (born 1936)
  101. Jenny de la Torre Castro (de), "Angel of the Homeless" (born 1954)
  102. Erich Gutenberg, economist (1897–1984)
  103. Emanuel Lasker, chess champion (1868–1941)
  104. Rudolf Steiner, philosopher (1861–1925)
  105. Edith Stein, theologian (1891–1942)
  106. Farin Urlaub, musician (Die Ärzte) (born 1963)
  107. Xavier Naidoo, singer (born 1971)
  108. Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomer (1473–1543)
  109. Adam Riese, mathematician (1492–1559)
  110. Gottlieb Daimler, automobile pioneer (1834–1900)
  111. Erich Kästner, writer (1899–1974)
  112. Rosa Luxemburg, politician (1871–1919)
  113. Bertolt Brecht, writer (1898–1956)
  114. Theodor Heuss, politician (1884–1963)
  115. Otto I the Great, monarch (912–973)
  116. Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst (1856–1939)
  117. Christine Licci (de), Citibank chief (born 1964)
  118. Wilhelm Busch, writer (1832–1908)
  119. Hildegard Hamm-Brücher, politician (born 1921)
  120. Udo Lindenberg, musician (born 1946)
  121. Eugen Drewermann, theologian (born 1940)
  122. Ferdinand Sauerbruch, physician (1875–1951)
  123. Peter Maffay, musician (born 1949)
  124. Josef Frings, cardinal archbishop of Cologne (1887–1978)
  125. Silke Fritzen, entry pushed by a group of internet users
  126. Max Planck, physicist (1858–1947)
  127. Johannes Rau, politician, Federal President 1999–2004 (1931–2006)
  128. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Brothers Grimm , linguists (1785–1863 and 1786–1859)
  129. Baron Münchhausen, legendary nobleman and entertainer (1720–1797)
  130. Wilhelm II, last German emperor (1859–1941)
  131. Rudolf Augstein, journalist and publisher (1923–2002)
  132. Heinrich Böll, writer (1917–1985)
  133. Ralf Schumacher, racing driver (born 1975)
  134. Anne Frank, teenage diary writer and Nazi victim (1929–1945)
  135. Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor ("Barbarossa"), monarch (1122–1190)
  136. Sigmund Jähn, cosmonaut, first German in space (born 1937)
  137. Franziska van Almsick, athlete (swimming) (born 1979)
  138. Clemens August Graf von Galen, theologian and resistance fighter (1878–1946)
  139. Ludwig II, "the Fairy tale King", king of Bavaria (1845–1886)
  140. Carl Friedrich Zeiss, physicist (1816–1888)
  141. Hildegard Knef, actress and singer (1925–2002)
  142. Levi Strauss, entrepreneur and inventor (jeans) (1829–1902)
  143. Sepp Herberger, football coach of the 1954 world cup winning team(1897–1977)
  144. Klaus Kinski, actor (1926–1991)
  145. Werner von Siemens, physicist and entrepreneur (1816–1892)
  146. Ferdinand Porsche, automobile constructor (1875–1951)
  147. Peter Scholl-Latour, journalist (born 1924)
  148. August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, writer of national anthem lyrics (1798–1874)
  149. Siegfried & Roy, illusionists and tiger tamers (born 1939 and 1944)
  150. Christoph Langen, athlete (bobsledding) (born 1962)
  151. Michelle, singer (born 1974)
  152. Manfred von Ardenne, physicist (1907–1997)
  153. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, universal scholar (1646–1716)
  154. Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher (1788–1860)
  155. Kurt Tucholsky, writer (1890–1935)
  156. Karl (born 1920) and Theo Albrecht (born 1922), entrepreneurs (Aldi)
  157. Joseph Ratzinger, cardinal (born 1927) (became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005)
  158. Werner Heisenberg, physicist (1901–1976)
  159. Harald Juhnke, actor (1929–2005)
  160. Till Eulenspiegel, literary figure as joker and jester, first appeared 1510/1511 (-)
  161. Götz George, actor (born 1938)
  162. Rudolf Diesel, inventor (1858–1913)
  163. Stefan Raab, TV host and musician (born 1966)
  164. Hans Albers, singer and actor (1891–1960)
  165. Nina Hagen, singer (born 1954)
  166. Johannes Kepler, astronomer (1571–1630)
  167. Hans Rosenthal, TV host (1925–1987)
  168. Rupert Neudeck, physician and charity activist (Cap Anamur) (born 1939)
  169. Dieter Hildebrandt, comedian (born 1927)
  170. Marie Theres Kroetz-Relin (de), actress and housewife (born 1966)
  171. Kilian Saum (de), priest (born 1958)
  172. Hans Söllner, singer (born 1955)
  173. Gregor Gysi, (East) German politician (born 1948)
  174. Arminius, der Cherusker, Germanic leader in battle vs. Romans (-)
  175. Günter Grass, writer (born 1927)
  176. Inge Meysel, actress (1910–2004)
  177. Hans Hartz (de), musician (1943–2002)
  178. Karl Lagerfeld, fashion designer (born 1933 or 1938)
  179. Oliver Kahn, athlete (football) (born 1969)
  180. Gerd Müller, athlete (football) (born 1945)
  181. Ferdinand von Zeppelin, airship pioneer (1838–1917)
  182. Nikolaus Otto, inventor (1832–1891)
  183. Grete Schickedanz (de), Quelle mail-order entrepreneur (1911–1994)
  184. Clara Zetkin, women's rights activist (1857–1933)
  185. Hannah Arendt, journalist and philosopher (1906–1975)
  186. Roman Herzog, Federal President 1994–1999(born 1934)
  187. Hermann Oberth, rocket physicist (1894–1984)
  188. Karl Valentin, comedian (1882–1948)
  189. Frank Schöbel, East German singer (born 1942)
  190. Jakob Fugger, entrepreneur (1459–1525)
  191. Henry Maske, athlete (boxing) (born 1964)
  192. Helmut Zacharias, violinist (1920–2002)
  193. Michael Ballack, athlete (football) (born 1976)
  194. Bernhard Grzimek, animal scientist and filmer (1909–1987)
  195. Richard Strauss, composer (1864–1949)
  196. Edmund Stoiber, politician (born 1941)
  197. Klaus Störtebeker, pirate (ca. 1370–1401)
  198. Peter Frankenfeld, Radio and Television personality (1913–1979)
  199. Mildred Scheel, physician and charity activist (1932–1985)
  200. Claudia Schiffer, model (born 1970)

References[edit]

External links[edit]