GÜNTERT, Hermann Georg Konrad

GÜNTERT, Hermann Georg Konrad. Worms 5.11.1886 — Heidelberg 23.4.1948. German IE scholar. Professor in Heidelberg. Son of a merchant, school in Weinheim and, after father’s death in 1897, in Worms. In school he learned Hebrew and privately Sanskrit. Matriculated in 1905, studied then at Heidelberg classical philology, Germanistics and comparative linguistics (under Osthoff). Ph.D. there 1908, teacher’s examination 1909. In 1910-21 worked as a schoolteacher in Heidelberg, in 1910-14 also further studies of Indo-Iranian (Bartholomae) and classics. PD 1913 Heidelberg. From 1917 ao. Professor at Heidelberg, from 1921 planm. ao. Professor at Rostock, where ord. Professor 1922. In 1926 returned to Heidelberg as ordinary Professor of IE linguistics (successor of Bartholomae). From 1933 also taught “Germanenkunde”. Retired in 1945, already seriously ill. In 1928-29 and 1933-37 Dean of Philosophical Faculty, 1931 member of Heidelberg A.W. He joined the NSDAP, but only as late as 1939, when it was difficult to avoid with keeping his position. Paralyzed in 1939 still somehow recovered, but a new attack led to death. Married 1923 Gisela Wachenfeld.

In his research HG is said to have succesfully combined language, culture and thought. He was thus also a historian of religion. As a schooled IE linguist he knew Indo-Iranian, classical and Germanic languages as well. In his early years he was a pure Neo-Grammarian, who concentrated on linguistic problems, but soon he became interested in sociolinguistics, especially in relation to religion (study of the Daevic vocabulary in the Avesta). He planned a grandiose series of studies on beliefs connected with death. It was arranged on the analogy of classical drama with four acts, four interludes, a prelude and a satyric piece (Pr. Wieland der Schmied, I. Kalypso, 1. Kundry, II. Ar. Weltkönig, 2. Hagen von Tronje und die Nibelungen, III. Balder der Heiland der Germanen, 3. Das Geisterschiff, IV. Monsalvat, 4. Prometheus, Sat. Bajazzo und Prinz Karneval). Only part of these he could complete. In the end of the 1920s he mainly concentrated on Germanic. In disagreement with fashionable theories he sought for “Urheimat” in Central Asia, and made the Nazis angry claiming that the Germans originally were not Indo-Europeans (1930 and still in more detail 1934). He even strongly criticized their racial fantasies. He did not completely dismiss race as concept, but proposed that even the IE Urvolk had been racially mixed and saw this as a healthy feature. But it is also true that his very last works occasionally reveal “völkisch” fascist undertones, although never antisemitism (Lincoln). He was much appreciated as a teacher, and also wrote poetry on basis of IE mythology.

Publications: Diss. Zur Geschichte der griechischen Gradationsbildungen. 1902, also publ. in IF 27, 1909, 1-72; habil. diss. Über arische Reimwortbildungen. 1. 56 p. Heidelberg 1913; Über Reimwortbildungen in Arischen und Altgriechischen. 10+258 p. Idg.Bibl. 3:1. Heidelberg 1914.

– “Zur Bildung der altindischen Desiderativa”, IF 30, 1912, 80-137.

Ueber die ahurischen und daēvischen Ausdrücke im Awesta. 34 p. SHeidAW 1914:13.

Indogermanische Ablautprobleme. Untersuchungen über Schwa secundum. 12+158 p. Strassburg 1916; “Zur o-Abtönung in den idg. Sprachen”, IF 37, 1916/17, 1-87

In the Death Tetralogy: Acts: Kalypso. Bedeutungsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen auf dem Gebiet der idg. Sprachen. 15+306 p. Halle 1919; Der arische Weltkönig und Heiland. Bed.gesch. Unters. zur indo-iranischen Religionsgeschichte und Altertumskunde. 439 p. Halle 1923; Prelude: Wieland der Schmied. Ein germanisches Sagenspiel in drei Aufzügen. Heidelberg 1936; Interludes: Kundry. 64 p. 1928; Prometheus, der arische Heiland. Mythenspiel in drei Teilen. Heidelberg 1938.

– “Zur Frage nach der Urheimat der Indogermanen”, Hans Teske (ed.): Deutsch­kundliches. F. Panzer zum 60. Geburtstag überreicht, Heidelberg 1930, 1-33; Der Ursprung der Germanen. 192 p. Heidelberg 1934.

Über altisländische Berserkergeschichten. 33 p. Heidelberg 1912; Von der Sprache der Götter und Geister. Bedeutungsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zur homerischen und eddischen Göttersprache. 183 p. Halle 1921; Deutscher Geist. Drei Vorträge. 115 p. Bühl-Baden 1932.

Grundfragen der Sprachwissenschaft. 155 p. Lp. 1925, 2nd ed. by Scherer. 1956, Japanese transl.

Labyrinth. Eine sprachwissenschaftliche Untersuchung. 49 p. SHeidAW 1932.

– “Runen, Runenbrauch und Runeninschriften der Germanen”, Oberdeutsche Z. f. Volkskunde 8, 1934, 51-102; Altgermanische Glaube nach Wesen und Grundlage. 141 p. Heidelberg 1937; Die Schau der Seherin. Ein Eddagedicht erklärt und neu übersetzt. Heidelberg 1944.

Am Nornenquell. Nordische Dichtungen. Lp. 1933 (poems); Kirke. Ein Satyrspiel in vier Auszügen. 1934; König Laurin. Eine deutsche Sage in Liedern. 1936.

Geschichte der germanischen Völkerschaften. 159 p. Lp. 1943.

A great number of articles and reviews.

Sources: D.G.K. 1935; D. Drüll, Heidelb. Gelehrtenlexikon 1803–1932. 1986; *W.H. Goegginger, “H.G. als Religionsforscher”, Numen 14, 1967, 150-158; Br. Lincoln, “HG in the 1930s. Heidelberg, Politics, and the Study og Germanic/Indogermanic Religion”, Junginger (ed.), The Study of Religion under the Impact of Fascism. Numen Book Series 117. Leiden 2008, 179-204; Antiquitates Indogermanicae. Gedenkschrift für H. G. Innsbruck 1974, 517-527 (by W. Meid, with bibliography and photo); photo in Idg. Jb. 29, 1951; photo in TITUS Galerie; German Wikipedia.

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