Schnepfenthal Salzmann School

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Salzmannschule Schnepfenthal
Salzmann School Schnepfenthal
Salzmannschule in Waltershausen- Schnepfenthal Thuringen.jpg
Klostermühlenweg 2
99880 Walterhausen
Gotha district
Coordinates 50°53′0″N 10°34′26″E
School type Public boarding school for highly gifted students
Established 1784 (1784)
Headmaster Dirk Schmidt
Teaching staff 46 (2009/10)
Years offered 5-12
Gender co-educational
Number of students 393 (2009/10)
Average class size 16
Student to teacher ratio 8:1
Abitur average 1.4

The Schnepfenthal Institution (Salzmannschule Schnepfenthal) is a boarding school in the district of Gotha, Germany, founded in 1784.

While adhering to national educational guidelines on science and mathematics, it is also one of the top schools in Germany for the study of foreign languages. In addition to compulsory education in English, German and Latin, students can study Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.[1]

It is amongst a handful of government supported schools specifically catering to the academically talented in Germany, along with institutions such as Pforta and the Landesgymnasium für Hochbegabte Schwäbisch Gmünd. To gain admission to the school, prospective students have to pass a special entrance examination facilitated by faculty from the University of Erfurt.[2][3]


Located on the northern slopes of the vast 5,500km2 Thuringian Forest, the school is in Walterhausen in the district of Gotha, near Castle Reinhardsbrunn. Gotha is best known as the ducal capital of the Saxe-Coburg Gotha dynasty, today's British royal family. Reinhardsbrunn was built by Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, father-in-law to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and was also where Queen Victoria met Prince Albert for the first time. [4]

It is 50 km southwest of Erfurt and 200 km northeast of Frankfurt.


The linguist and theologian Christian Gotthilf Salzmann founded the school in 1784, with the intention to focus on languages, practical work and physical exercise. Salzmann was an influential theorist in childhood education, and his treatise 'Elements of Morality' was translated into the English language by the 18th century British feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. In the book Child of the Enlightenment,[5] Rotterdam University professors Arianne Baggerman and Rudolf Dekker stated;

We know a lot about the ideological basis of Salzmann's school, because he outlined it in a detailed prospectus published in 1785. He began by stating that for the last fifteen years, people had been waking up to the fact that much of the 'wretchedness and misery' in the world had been caused by a misspent education. Like the other philanthropists, he was keenly aware of being an innovator. He chose the village of Schnepfenthal because, he said, it was 'not situated so close to the city that it could be badly influenced by it, yet it was close enough to allow the pupils to associate with upright, enlightened and cultivated people'.

The support of the Freemasons of Gotha and the patronage of Leopold III, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau were also integral to the founding of the school.[6] Leopold III was a noted liberal and social reformer, who also supported the founding of the first Jewish newspaper in Germany.[7]

Since its early days, the school was internationally known as a pioneer in education and was visited by many pedagogues and intellectuals including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Christoph Martin Wieland.[8][9] The husband of Queen Victoria, Albert, Prince Consort, was frequently sent there as a boy to play with the students.[10]

Teachers and Alumni[edit]

Some of the people who have taught or studied there include [11]

- Johann Matthäus Bechstein. Zoologist, conservationist and father of German ornithology.

- Hans Domizlaff. The only disciple of the artist Max Klinger, Domizlaff went on to become Germany's first guru on advertising and public branding and was instrumental in helping Carl Friedrich von Siemens establish Siemens as a mass market consumer brand in the 1930s.[12]

- Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths. Founder of modern gymnastics whose ideas were adopted by schools and universities throughout Britain and the United States in the 19th century.

- Edward C. Hegeler. Wealthy German-American industrialist and philanthropist who founded The Monist, one of America's oldest and most important journals on philosophy.[13]

- Johann Gustav Heckscher. A politician from a wealthy German-Jewish family, he rose to become Minister of Justice under Prime Minister Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen. He was the brother of the German-American mining tycoon and prominent New York philanthropist August Heckscher

- Carl Ritter. Founder of scientific geography and co-founder of the Geographic Society of Berlin who went on to mentor notable explorers such as the America geographer and Princeton professor Arnold Guyot, the China explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen and the Africa explorer Heinrich Barth

- Ferdinand Springer. Publisher for leading scientists such as Albert Einstein and David Hilbert. He inherited a four-employee firm and built it into what became the world's largest publisher of science, technology and medicine journals. Springer Science + Business was acquired by BC Partners in 2013 for €3.3 billion.[14][15][16][17]

- Franz Schober. Austrian poet and librettist who wrote the text to compositions for Schubert and Liszt

- Christian Carl Andre. Leading 19th century European naturalist and pioneer of the biological concept of heredity whose vision paved the way for the research of Gregor Mendel, the founder of modern genetics.[18]

- Christian Paulsen. Law professor, politician and Danish nationalist.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Arianne Baggerman and Rudolf Dekker, Rotterdam University professors, Child of the Enlightenment, page 60
  6. ^ Joachim Whaley, Oxford University Press, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, page 520
  7. ^ J. Morley, "The Bauhaus Effect," in Social Utopias of the Twenties (Germany: Müller Bushmann press, 1995), 11.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Charles Grey, Cambridge University Press, Early Years of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort: Compiled Under the Direction of Her Majesty the Queen, page 42
  11. ^
  12. ^,25,0,0,1,0
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Springer-Verlag. Pt. 1: 1842-1945 : foundation, maturation, adversity, p. 395, at Google Books
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°53′0″N 10°34′26″E / 50.88333°N 10.57389°E / 50.88333; 10.57389