Hermann Stehr

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Hermann Stehr
Hermann Stehr.png
Hermann Stehr in 1911
Born 16 February 1864 Edit this on Wikidata
Bystrzyca Kłodzka Edit this on Wikidata
Died 11 September 1940 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 76)

Hermann Stehr (16 February 1864 – 11 September 1940)[1] was a German novelist, dramatist and poet. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Stehr was born in Habelschwerdt (Bystrzyca Kłodzka) in 1864, he was the fifth child of Robert Stehr. He was brought up in an indigent family under the strict rules of his religious parents. Much of Stehr's family background remains unknown, however in the novel Drei Nächte, if accepted as being autobiographical, he mentioned a grandfather, who came from Baden. This grandfather worked in a higher legal office during the outbreak of the European Revolutions of 1848 in Germany.[3]

Stehr married Hedwig Nentwig in 1894,[4] four of their sons died in infancy. Stehr described the painful death of children in some of his fictional works, notably Das letzte Kind. In 1899 he moved to Podgórze. He abandoned teaching and in 1915 and devoted himself to writing with the support of his patron, the Silesian textile manufacturer Hans Pinkus. In autumn 1915 he settled in Cieplice Śląskie, in 1926 he moved to Schreiberhau where he lived until his death.


Between 1881 and 1885 Stehr trained as an elementary school teacher in Lądek-Zdrój[5] and then in Bystrzyca Kłodzka. He objected to the educational methods at school, as well as he was against priggishness and prudery of the teachers. He doubted basic tenets of the Catholic Church which triggered a conflict between Stehr and his superiors. However, he was a believer but as he claimed, he needed no mediator between himself and God.[6] In 1885 he started working as a teacher in Silesian Bukowina. In 1887 he moved to Paszków - a small village in the mountains where he worked under the supervision of two parish priests. During his time in Paszków he felt abandoned and lonely.[7] His time in Paszków was difficult but then he found solace in God. In his poem An Gott[8] he wrote that God had a huge influence on his life.

He published several novels including Leonore Griebel (a story of marital conflict), Der begrabene Gott (about a poor maid from Paszków and her contrary husband) and Drei Nachte (set in Bystrzyca Kłodzka and thought to be autobiographical). In his satire Meicke, der Teufel, a tale of alcoholism, he described a dishonest and disreputable protagonist who too precisely resembled a farmer from Paszków, for which he was sued and sentenced to pay 50 marks. In his works he often described the lives of the characters, mainly Silesian peasants and workers, as a dramatic search for God. He also wrote fairy tales and poetry. His most famous and successful work was the novel Der Heiligenhof about a Silesian farmer, his blind daughter, her love for a young man and the farmer's search for God. This story was retold in a later work from the point of view of the young man, Peter Brindeisner.

Some German nationalists identified Stehr as a eulogist of the German soul. However, the more ideological National Socialists criticised Stehr for his advocacy of independent thought and seeking God within oneself rather than finding solace in society. His works are not celebrations of an innocent rural life, extolling men of the soil, as Blood and Soil literature did,[9] but owe more to naturalism through the portrayal of the poverty and hardship of ordinary people's lives, and the Heimat-Roman or regional novel genre through their focus on Silesia and, more specifically, the people of the Grafschaft Glatz.

His letters and manuscripts can mostly be found in the German literary archives in Marbach (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach).

Political involvement[edit]

During the founding of the Weimar Republic, Stehr appeared as an election speaker for his friend Walther Rathenau, a candidate for the Social Democrats.[10]

In 1934 Stehr wrote a letter to Adolf Hitler, which was a protest against the president of the police and SA-Obergruppenfűhrer Heines who pursued a policy of terror and violence against citizens.[11] The letter remained unanswered.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Throughout his career Stehr received several awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Wroclaw in 1934[12] and honorary citizenships of Bystrzyca Kłodzka and Szklarska Poręba. In Münster there is a street named in his honor[13] Literary prizes that he received included:

  • the Bauernfeld Prize (1910),[14]
  • the Fastenrath Prize (1919),[14]
  • the Schiller Prize (1919),[14]
  • the Rathenau Prize (1930),[14]
  • the Wartburg Rose (1932),[14]
  • the Goethe Medal for Art and Science (1932),[14] and
  • the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt-am-Main (1933).[14]

He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times (1933, 1934, 1935, and 1936) but did not win.[15]

Stehr was also appointed as a founding member of the Prussian Literary Academy (1926).[14]


  • Auf Leben und Tod 1898 (novellas)
  • Leonore Griebel, 1900
  • Meta Konegen, 1904 (drama)
  • Der begrabene Gott, 1905
  • Drei Nächte, 1909
  • Geschichten aus dem Mandelhause, 1913 (republished with additional chapters, much enlarged, as Das Mandelhaus, 1953)
  • Das Abendrot, 1916 (novellas)
  • Der Heiligenhof, 1918
  • Das Lebensbuch, 1920 (poetry)
  • Die Krähen, 1921 (novellas)
  • Peter Brindeisener, 1924
  • Mythen und Mären, 1929 (collected fairy tales and short stories)
  • Die Nachkommen, 1933
  • Mein Leben, 1934 (autobiography)
  • Der Mittelgarten, 1936 (poetry)
  • Droben Gnade - drunten Recht, 1944

English translations[edit]


  1. ^ Ruchniewicz, Małgorzata; Stanisław Rosik; Przemysław Wiszewski (2007). Bystrzyca Kłodzka Zarys rozwoju miasta na przestrzeni wieków (in Polish). Bystrzyca Kłodzka: DTSK Silesia. p. 176. 
  2. ^ "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  3. ^ Wittig, Joseph (1980). Glatzer Heimatbücher Band 6 (in German). Leimen/Heidelberg. p. 190. 
  4. ^ Gert, Jahn (2004). Hermann Stehr, Lehrer und Dichter. Hamburg: Glaciographia Nova. p. 270. 
  5. ^ Wittig, Joseph (1980). Glatzer Heimatbucher Band 6. Leimen/Heidelberg. p. 236. 
  6. ^ Mueller-Carson, Victoria; Fritz Richter (1964). "A memoir". Schlesier, Deutscher, Europäer. Würzburg. p. 194. 
  7. ^ Richter, Fritz (1964). "Das Hermann-Stehr-Bild der Deutschen". Schlesier, Deutscher, Europäer (in German). Würzburg. p. 20. 
  8. ^ Stehr, Hermann (1920). Das Lebensbuch: Gedichte aus zwei Jahrzehnten. Berlin: S. Fischer. p. 204. 
  9. ^ Grunberger, Richard. The 12-Year Reich. pp. 366–7. ISBN 0-03-076435-1. 
  10. ^ Klee, Ernst (2007). Das Kulturlexikon zum dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer. p. 587. 
  11. ^ Gert, Jahn (2004). Hermann Stehr, Lehrer und Dichter 1864-1940. Hamburg: Glaciographia Nova. p. 278. 
  12. ^ Richter, Fritz (1964). Schlesier, Deutscher, Europäer (in German). Würzburg: Fritz Richter. p. 44. 
  13. ^ Homering, Jörg (2012-11-28). "Ehrenrettung für einen Heimatdichter". Münsterländische Volkszeitung (in German). http://www.mv-online.de/Region-Rheine/Neuenkirchen/Kulturausschuss-Hermann-Stehr-Strasse-wird-umbenannt-Ehrenrettung-fuer-einen-Heimatdichter. Archived from the original on 2012-12-01.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Stehr, Hermann (2013). The Shimmer of the Assistant. K A Nitz. p. Back cover. ASIN 0473242494. ISBN 0-473-24249-4. 
  15. ^ Nobelprize.org. "Nomination Database - Literature". Nobel Prize AB. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.