Hermann Goedsche

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Sir John Retcliffe
John Retcliffe
John Retcliffe
BornHermann Ottomar Friedrich Goedsche
(1815-02-12)12 February 1815
Trachenberg, Kingdom of Prussia
Died8 November 1878(1878-11-08) (aged 63)
Hirschberg im Riesengebirge, German Empire

Hermann Ottomar Friedrich Goedsche (12 February 1815 – 8 November 1878), also known as his pseudonym Sir John Retcliffe, was a German writer who was remembered primarily for his antisemitism.

Life and work[edit]

Goedsche was born in Trachenberg, Silesia, then in the Kingdom of Prussia, today part of Poland. In 1848 he worked for the Neue Preußische (Kreuz-)Zeitung newspaper, together with prominent Germans like Theodor Fontane, Otto von Bismarck and George Hesekiel. In 1853, he travelled as a journalist to Turkey.

Goedsche worked in the genre of historical romance novel, as typified by Sir Walter Scott, Charles Sealsfield and Theodor Mügge, but he was also influenced by authors like Eugène Sue, Alexandre Dumas, père and George Hesekiel. Some of his works are critical of British colonialism. He was openly antisemitic and, although adopting an English pseudonym, he was a Prussian chauvinist who held a profound aversion against Britain and everything British. His political views on "perfidious Albion" are clearly expressed in his novels.

Goedsche worked as a postal employee, but in reality he was an agent provocateur for the Prussian secret police. He forged letters which were used as evidence to frame democratic leaders. In 1849, he was caught after forging evidence in the prosecution of political reformer Benedict Waldeck and had to leave the postal service.[1]

He died at Bad Warmbrunn, today Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój in Jelenia Góra, in 1878.

References in other works[edit]

Goedsche appears as a character in The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco. In the novel, the protagonist Simone Simonini approaches Goedsche in an unsuccessful effort to sell a forged antisemitic document to the Prussian secret police. Simonini later discovers to his dismay that Goedsche has appropriated the contents of the document for a scene in his novel Biarritz, leading other potential buyers for Simonini's forgery to think he had merely plagiarized it from Goedsche.


  • Der letzte Wäringer. Historisch politische Novelle aus den letzten Tagen Constantinopels (1835, as Theodor Armin)
  • Vaterländische Romaneske aus den Zeiten Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossas (3 volumes, 1836, with Burg Frankenstein)
  • Die Sage vom Ottilien-Stein (1836)
  • Die steinernen Tänzer. Romantische Sage aus Schlesiens Vorzeit (2 volumes, 1837)
  • Nächte. Romantische Skizzen aus dem Leben und der Zeit (2 volumes, 1838–1839)
  • Schlesischer Sagen-, Historien- und Legendenschatz (1839–1840)
  • Mysterien der Berliner Demokratie (1848, as Willibald Piersig)
  • Enthüllungen (1849, anonymously)
  • Die Russen nach Constantinopel! Ein Beitrag zur orientalischen Frage (1854)
  • Sebastobol. Historisch-politischer Roman aus der Gegenwart (4 volumes, 1855–1857)
  • Nena Sahib, oder: Die Empörung in Indien. Historisch-politischer Roman 1858-1859
  • Villafranca, oder: Die Kabinette und die Revolutionen. Historisch-politischer Roman aus der Gegenwart (3 volumes, 1860–1862)
  • Biarritz. Historisch-politischer Roman (3 volumes, 1868)
  • Um die Weltherrschaft (sequel to Biarritz, 5 volumes, 1877–1879)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Keren, Daniel, Commentary on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 10 February 1993. Archived 29 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine Republished as accompanying introduction to The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion translated by Victor E Marsden. [The relevant part is on page 4 of the pdf file.]


  • Cohn, Norman (1967). Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. London. Excerpts dealing a. o. with Retcliffe
  • Klotz, Volker (1979). Abenteuer-Romane. Sue, Dumas, Ferry, Retcliffe, May, Verne. Munich: Hanser. ISBN 3-446-12690-2.
  • Märtin, Ralf-Peter (1983). "Wunschpotentiale. Geschichte und Gesellschaft in Abenteuerromanen von Retcliffe, Armand, May. Königstein/Taunus: Hain 1983". Literatur in der Geschichte, Geschichte in der Literatur: 10. ISBN 3-445-02302-6.
  • Neuhaus, Volker (1980). Der zeitgeschichtliche Sensationsroman in Deutschland 1855-1878. "Sir John Retcliffe" und seine Schule. Berlin: Schmidt. ISBN 3-503-01628-7.

External links[edit]