Get to know

  • 1881 Birth of Victor Klemperer in Landsberg/Warthe
  • 1902 Matriculation examination at the local Royal Grammar School
  • 1906 Marriage to Eva Schlemmer
  • 1912 Christening
  • 1913 Doctoral examination in Munich on Friedrich Spielhagen
  • 1914/1915 The two-volume study Montesquieu is published.
  • 1915 Lecturer in Naples
  • 1915-1918 Military service as a Bavarian field artilleryman in Flanders and book censor in the Oberost region (from 1916)
  • 1920 Appointed professor at the TH Dresden
  • 1925 Trip to Argentina
  • 1933 Front combatant certificate
  • 1935 Early retirement
  • 1936 Appointment as caretaker, civil air raid warden
  • 1936 Dispute over the garden
  • 1939 Waiting list USA
  • 1941 Conviction for not darkening the house
  • 1942 Sale of house
  • 1945 Escape
  • 1945 Suspension TH Dresden
  • 1946 Dresden identity card
  • 1947 Dismissal from TH Dresden
  • 1950 Allocation of living space Dresden
  • 1951 Honorary doctorate from TH Dresden
  • 1960 Death in Dresden, grave in Dölzschen cemetery

Klemperer as professor

Among the celebrities of the Dresden Cultural Studies Department was Professor Viktor Klemperer. A rabbi's son, a small, inconspicuous man whom I took for a pedlar when I asked him for a lecture hall at the beginning of my studies and he willingly gave me information in a polite and friendly manner. Klemperer was the first of the professors in this department on whom the injustice done to him during the fascist era was tried to be righted by giving him his place in the tradition cabinet of the TU Dresden.

(Rudolf Forberger, "Erinnerungen an die kulturwissenschaftliche Abteilung der Sächsischen Technischen Hochschule Dresden" in: Sächsische Heimatblätter, 37 Jg. Heft 1/1991, p. 46).

Monument, presumably in the university grounds, to the Romance scholar Victor Klemperer, who taught at the university in Halle from 1948 to 1960.

Klemperer's professorial activities encompass not only his academic career, his lectures and his academic publications, but also his correspondence with publishers and other professors. At times, the relationship was not undisturbed, the academic and political stance differed. This was especially true of other Romance scholars such as Ernst Robert Curtius and Leo Spitzer. Like Benedetto Croce, Curtius had doubted Klemperer's scholarly activity and derided him as a "semi-journalist" and "prolific writer".

However, Klemperer's fame rests on his essayistic and literary talent. His literary works have reached a far wider readership than his purely scientific ones.

In some articles and books: Frank-Rutger Hausmann: Engulfed by the Whirlpool of Events, From the Realm of Mental Famine, Peter Jehle: Werner Krauss and Romance Studies in the Nazi State, Klemperer's relationship to other Romance scholars and his scholarly impact were examined.

The University Archive of the TU Dresden holds files and other material on Klemperer's activities in Dresden. A detailed description of the holdings can be found here.

The SLUB holds in Klemperer's estate not only excerpts, notes, corrected typescripts and manuscripts that Klemperer prepared for his many publications, but also parts of his correspondence.

The estate contains, among other things, a letter from Erich Auerbach and some letters to Leo Spitzer and Karl Vossler. You will also find letters from Lion Feuchtwanger or Stephan Hermlin to Victor Klemperer. A "critical reader of the book LTI" has also left a letter.

Klemperer's appointments, including a teaching assignment in Flanders from 1918, and other academic letters and recommendations can also be found in the estate.

Klemperer as a politician

As a lecturer, speaker and writer, he espouses his conviction that Germany can only rise again if the ideas of Soviet Russia are realised under the leadership of the SED and by adapting to German conditions.

(30.10.1946, Straub report, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the TH Dresden, University Archive II/464).

Klemperer am Rednerpult auf der SED Kreiskonferenz, September 1947

Dresden, Kurt-Fischer Platz (Olbrichplatz), North Hall. SED district conference. Klara Noack (in the presidium on the right), September 1947 & Wilhelm Koenen (2nd from left), Victor Klemperer at the lectern, September 1947.

Klemperer's political activities in the post-war period cannot be reduced to his membership in various organisations and alliances. His teaching, his speeches and writings and his "popular pedagogical" activities, which were specifically mentioned in the justification for his honorary doctorate at the TH Dresden, are also part of Klemperer's political actions and thinking.

The SLUB also holds a rich number of documents from Klemperer's political life in the GDR. Here you can see a selection of them:

Mitgliedskarte der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands für Victor KlempererMembership card no. 484409 of the Communist Party of Germany for Victor Klemperer, issued on 13.12.1945. Front with stamp imprint "invalid" Dresden, custodian: Dresden, SLUB.

Veranstaltungsprogramm der  VolkshochschuleProgramme of events of the Volkshochschule, whose director the Romance scholar Victor Klemperer took over in December 1945, Dresden.

Statement on the judgement in the Nuremberg trial, 1946.

Referendum, 1946: Members of the Dresden chapter of the "Kulturbund zur demokratischen Erneuerung Deutschlands".

Volksentscheid, 1946

From left to right: 2nd chairman Friedrich Tobler, managing director Karl Kneschke, 1st chairman Victor Klemperer, 4th managing director Eva Blank and Georg Wildführ. (Scene from the DEFA news film "Das Neueste vom Tage"), series: "Klemperer".

to the film document


Of Dresden's inner construction, 1947.

Arbeiterblut, Studentenblut : Rede am Dies Academicus der Universität Greifswald, dem 19. April 1948, zur 100-Jahrfeier der Märzrevolution.

Membership book of the Free German Trade Union Federation 1949.

Congratulations from the Central Committee of the SED on the occasion of his 70th birthday, with Ulbricht's signature, 1951.