Famous German Historians

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Find out more about the greatest German Historians, including Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Schiller, Oswald Spengler, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder and Leopold von Ranke.
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 1 
Max Weber
(Sociologist)
Max Weber
4
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erfurt, Germany
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

 2 
Leopold von Ranke
(German Historian and a Founder of Modern Source-Based History)
Leopold von Ranke
4
Birthdate: December 21, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wiehe, Roßleben-Wiehe, Germany
Died: May 23, 1886

Leopold von Ranke was a German historian who had a major influence on Western historiography. A respected historian, Ranke is credited with founding modern source-based history. When he was ennobled in 1865, honors poured in from several historians and scholars across the world.

 3 
Oswald Spengler
(German Historian & Philosopher Known for His Two-Volume Work 'The Decline of the West')
Oswald Spengler
4
Birthdate: May 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blankenburg, Germany
Died: May 8, 1936

German historian Oswald Spengler is best remembered for his iconic The Decline of the West, which had a huge influence on social theory. He believed that culture cannot be transferred and that it can only decline and decay like an organism. He lived his final years in isolation in Munich.

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 4 
Johann Joachim Winckelmann
(German Art Historian, Archaeologist and One of the Leading Proponents of Neoclassicism)
Johann Joachim Winckelmann
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1717
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stendal, Germany
Died: June 8, 1768

German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann is often referred to as the father of modern archaeology. Born to a cobbler, he studied Greek, theology, and even medicine. He later specialized in Greek and Neoclassical art and had a prominent influence on Western painting, sculpture, and literature.

 5 
Geoffrey Elton
(Writer, Historian of the modern age, Historian, University teacher, Lawyer)
Geoffrey Elton
3
Birthdate: August 17, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tübingen
Died: December 3, 1994

Born to Jewish scholars in Germany, Geoffrey Elton later moved with his family, first to Czechoslovakia and then to Britain. He grew up to become a renowned historian who specialized in the Tudor period. He also taught history at Cambridge and penned books such as England Under the Tudors.

 6 
Wilhelm Dilthey
(Philosopher Known for the Way He Distinguished Between the Natural and Human Sciences)
Wilhelm Dilthey
3
Birthdate: November 19, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biebrich, Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: October 1, 1911

Wilhelm Dilthey was a German psychologist, sociologist, historian, and hermeneutic philosopher. An ardent admirer of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dilthey helped revive the former's works on hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey is also credited with teaching future philosophers like Hans Lipps, Eduard Spranger, and Theodor Litt.

 7 
Theodor Mommsen
(German Historian and Writer Famous for His Masterpiece 'Römische Geschichte')
Theodor Mommsen
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1817
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Garding, Germany
Died: November 1, 1903

One of the most influential 19th-century classicists, Theodor Mommsen donned many hats and was at the same time a historian, a philologist, a legal scholar, and an archaeologist. His legendary A History of Rome won him a Nobel Prize in Literature. He had also fathered 16 children.

 8 
Nikolaus Pevsner
(German-British Art Historian Best Known for His Monumental 46-Volume Series of County-By-County Guides)
Nikolaus Pevsner
3
Birthdate: January 30, 1902
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: August 18, 1983

Nikolaus Pevsner was a German-British architectural historian and art historian. He is best remembered for his 46-volume series of guide books called The Buildings of England. Pevsner is credited with co-founding the Victorian Society in 1957. The society aims at preserving Edwardian and Victorian architecture. In 1969, Nikolaus Pevsner was knighted for services to architecture and art.

 9 
Marie d'Agoult
(French author)
Marie d'Agoult
3
Birthdate: December 31, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: March 5, 1876
 10 
Ernst Nolte
(German Historian and Philosopher Known for Articulating a Theory of Generic Fascism as ‘Resistance to Transcendence’)
Ernst Nolte
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Witten, Germany
Died: August 18, 2016

Ernst Nolte was a German philosopher and historian. Nolte taught modern history from 1973 to 1991 at the Free University of Berlin. He is best remembered for his work Fascism in Its Epoch, which became a popular book upon its publication in 1963. Over the course of his illustrious career, Nolte received many awards, such as the Konrad Adenauer Prize.

 11 
Aby Warburg
(Art historian)
Aby Warburg
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1866
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: October 26, 1929
 12 
Fritz Fischer
(Historian)
Fritz Fischer
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1908
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ludwigsstadt, Germany
Died: December 1, 1999
 13 
Peter Gay
(Psychologist, Cultural historian, Historian, Writer, University teacher)
Peter Gay
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: May 12, 2015

Best known for his work on modern European cultural history, Peter Gay was a renowned American historian who had penned the iconic works such as the award-winning The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. His studies on Freud and the Weimar Republic, too, became bestsellers. He was married to award-winning author Ruth Gay.

 14 
Erwin Panofsky
(German Art Historian)
Erwin Panofsky
3
Birthdate: March 30, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: March 14, 1968

German art historian Erwin Panofsky is best remembered for his work on iconography. He moved to the U.S. in the wake of the rise of the Nazis. His studies also included Dutch painting and Gothic architecture. His supposedly lost manuscript Habilitationsschrift was recovered years later in a Nazi safe.

 15 
Golo Mann
(Historian)
Golo Mann
3
Birthdate: March 27, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: April 7, 1994

Golo Mann was a German historian and essayist. An influential personality, Mann is best remembered for his most popular work German History in the 19th and 20th Century, a survey of the political history in Germany. 

 16 
Mildred Harnack
(Literary historian)
Mildred Harnack
3
Birthdate: September 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 16, 1943
 17 
Samuel von Pufendorf
(Jurist and Political Philosopher Known for His Commentaries & Revisions of the Natural Law Theories)
Samuel von Pufendorf
3
Birthdate: January 8, 1632
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zwönitz, Germany
Died: October 26, 1694

Samuel von Pufendorf was a German jurist, economist, political philosopher, and historian. Among Pufendorf's major achievements are his revisions and commentaries of the natural law theories of Hugo Grotius and Thomas Hobbes. In Germany, Samuel von Pufendorf is best remembered as a precursor of an intellectual and philosophical movement called the Age of Enlightenment

 18 
Joachim Fest
(Former Historian known for writings and commentary on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany)
Joachim Fest
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 11, 2006
 19 
Sebastian Haffner
(Journalist)
Sebastian Haffner
3
Birthdate: December 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: January 2, 1999
 20 
Reinhart Koselleck
3
Birthdate: April 23, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Görlitz, Lower Silesia, Germany
Died: February 3, 2006
Friedrich Carl von Savigny
3
Birthdate: February 21, 1779
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: October 25, 1861
 22 
Hans Mommsen
(Historian, known for his studies in German social history)
Hans Mommsen
4
Birthdate: November 5, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marburg, Germany
Died: November 5, 2015
Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1905
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Died: January 27, 1964
 24 
Abraham Geiger
(Former rabbi and scholar, considered the founding father of Reform Judaism)
Abraham Geiger
2
Birthdate: May 24, 1810
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: October 23, 1874

Abraham Geiger was a German rabbi and scholar credited to be the founding father of Reform Judaism. He emphasized Judaism’s constant evolution over the years and sought to reformulate the tenets of the religion to make it compliant with contemporary times. He was responsible for much of the reform doctrine of the mid-19th century. 

 25 
Hildebrand Gurlitt
3
Birthdate: September 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dresden, German Empire
Died: November 9, 1956
 26 
Martin Broszat
(Historian)
Martin Broszat
2
Birthdate: August 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: October 14, 1989
 27 
Willy Ley
(Writer)
Willy Ley
2
Birthdate: October 2, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: June 24, 1969
 28 
Adolf von Harnack
(Baltic German Lutheran Theologian and Church Historian)
Adolf von Harnack
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1851
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tartu, Estonia
Died: June 10, 1930

Adolf von Harnack was a Baltic German Lutheran theologian. Also an important Church historian, Harnack is credited with producing numerous religious publications between 1873 and 1912. Adolf von Harnack also played a prominent role in the establishment of The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science, where he served as the first president.

 29 
Heinrich Zimmer
(Linguist)
Heinrich Zimmer
2
Birthdate: December 6, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Greifswald, German Empire
Died: March 20, 1943
 30 
Heinrich von Treitschke
(Former historian, political writer and National Liberal member of the Reichstag during the time of the German Empire)
Heinrich von Treitschke
3
Birthdate: September 15, 1834
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: April 28, 1896
 31 
Ernst Moritz Arndt
2
Birthdate: December 26, 1769
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rügen, Germany
Died: January 29, 1860
 32 
Karl August Wittfogel
2
Birthdate: September 6, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Woltersdorf, Lüchow, Province of Hanover, Free State of Prussia, German Empire
Died: May 25, 1988
 33 
Ernst Kantorowicz
2
Birthdate: May 3, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: September 9, 1963
 34 
Hans Blumenberg
(Philosopher)
Hans Blumenberg
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1920
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: March 28, 1996
 35 
Andreas Hillgruber
2
Birthdate: January 18, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wegorzewo, Poland
Died: May 8, 1989
 36 
Hans Delbrück
(Historian)
Hans Delbrück
5
Birthdate: November 11, 1848
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rügen, Germany
Died: July 14, 1929
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
2
Birthdate: April 23, 1876
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Solingen, Germany
Died: May 30, 1925
Prince Heinrich of Hanover
2
Birthdate: April 29, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hanover, Lower Saxony, West Germany
 39 
Sönke Neitzel
(Historian)
Sönke Neitzel
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1968
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
 40 
Karl Dietrich Bracher
(Political Scientist)
Karl Dietrich Bracher
2
Birthdate: March 13, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Weimar Republic, Germany
Died: September 19, 2016
 41 
Ludwig Uhland
2
Birthdate: April 26, 1787
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tübingen, Germany
Died: November 13, 1862
 42 
Barthold Georg Niebuhr
(Danish–German Statesman, Banker, and Historian)
Barthold Georg Niebuhr
2
Birthdate: August 27, 1776
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: January 2, 1831

Barthold Georg Niebuhr was a Danish-German banker, statesman, and historian. A symbol of national spirit in Germany, Barthold Georg Niebuhr helped invigorate a sense of patriotism and nationalism in students at the University of Berlin. 

 43 
Friedrich Meinecke
2
Birthdate: October 30, 1862
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Salzwedel, Germany
Died: February 6, 1954
 44 
Johann Gustav Droysen
(German Historian)
Johann Gustav Droysen
2
Birthdate: July 6, 1808
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Trzebiatów, Poland
Died: June 19, 1884

Johann Gustav Droysen was a German historian. His work pertaining to Alexander the Great was the first work that represented a new school of German thought that introduced the great man theory. Johann Gustav Droysen's book, History of Alexander the Great, remained the best work on the king of Macedonia for a long time.

 45 
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
2
Birthdate: June 25, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mannheim, Germany
Died: January 11, 1979
 46 
Otto Of Freising
2
Birthdate: 1114 AD
Birthplace: Klosterneuburg, Austria
Died: September 22, 1158

Otto Of Freising, also known as Otto I, was the bishop of Freising. He is best remembered for penning an extensive history of the world, Chronica. The four-volume Gesta Friderici, the first two of which were written by him, spoke about Frederick Barbarossa and the house of Hohenstaufen.

 47 
Ignaz von Döllinger
2
Birthdate: February 28, 1799
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
Died: January 10, 1890
 48 
Thietmar of Merseburg
2
Birthdate: July 25, 0975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Germany
Died: December 1, 1018

Eleventh-century German bishop Thietmar of Merseburg is best remembered for penning the history of the Ottonian dynasty, which remains a chief source of information about the age. He is credited with being the first to use the word "Teutonici" to differentiate between Germans and non-Germans in the Holy Roman Empire.

 49 
Friedrich von Bernhardi
(Prussian General and Military Historian Best Known for His Bellicose Book 'Deutschland und der Nächste Krieg')
Friedrich von Bernhardi
2
Birthdate: November 22, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 11, 1930

Friedrich von Bernhardi was a Prussian general and author. A best-selling author prior to the First World War, Bernhardi is best remembered for his book. Germany and the Next War. A militarist, Bernhardi proposed that Germany should ignore treaties. As a general, he played an important role during World War I where he had success in the Eastern Front.

 50 
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
2
Birthdate: September 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Freudenberg, Germany
Died: July 5, 2014