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.
Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist, political theorist and socialist revolutionary, is best-known for the 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital. His theories, called Marxism, maintained that class conflict leads to the development of human societies and that internal tension were inherent in capitalism, which would ultimately be replaced by the socialist mode of production.
Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, political scientist, and revolutionary socialist. Along with Karl Marx, Engels helped develop Marxism, which has had a profound impact on fields like philosophy and anthropology. Engels is credited with helping Marx publish Das Kapital, a foundational theoretical work in politics, economics, and materialist philosophy. He also co-authored influential political documents like The Communist Manifesto.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gershom Scholem was a German-born Israeli philosopher and historian. He is much respected as the founder of the modern academic study of Kabbalah. He became the first professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was lifelong friends with fellow philosopher Walter Benjamin and was devastated when the latter died by suicide in 1940.
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.
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.
12 Bruno Bauer
German philosopher Bruno Bauer is best remembered as a student of legendary German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel. Part of the group of intellectuals known as Young Hegelians, he was also a staunch Rationalist. He not only questioned the origin of Christ but was also accused of anti-semitism.
14 Ernst Nolte
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.
15 John Weitz
John Weitz was a menswear designer, writer, and historian. He was the son of a successful textile manufacturer. As a young man, he served in the army and joined his father’s textile business. He later started his own textile business and launched multiple clothing lines, focusing on stylish and affordable designs. He wrote fiction and non-fiction as a hobby.
16 Aby Warburg
19 Peter Gay
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.
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.
Considered the first German female poet and historian Hrosvitha was a Benedictine nun for most of her life. Her writings provided a woman’s perspective of the history of her era. Her works include narrative poems on Christian legends and comedies with Christian themes written in Latin.
22 Golo Mann
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.
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.
24 Joachim Fest
27 Hans Mommsen
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.
34 Willy Ley
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.
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.