Famous German Historians

Find out more about the greatest German Historians, including Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Schiller, Oswald Spengler, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder and Leopold von Ranke.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite German Historians

 1 Max Weber

Max Weber
4
Famous As: Sociologist
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 Karl Marx

Karl Marx
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Famous As: Philosopher & Economist Famous for His Theory of 'Marxism' and Book 'Das Kapital'
Birthdate: May 5, 1818
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trier, Germany
Died: March 14, 1883

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.

 3 Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 28, 1820
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barmen, Germany
Died: August 4, 1895

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.

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 4 Leopold von Ranke

Leopold von Ranke
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Famous As: Historian
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.

 5 Oswald Spengler

Oswald Spengler
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Famous As: Historian, Philosopher
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.

 6 Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Johann Joachim Winckelmann
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Famous As: Art historian
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.

 7 Geoffrey Elton

Geoffrey Elton
3
Famous As: Writer, Historian of the modern age, Historian, University teacher, Lawyer
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.

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 8 Wilhelm Dilthey

Wilhelm Dilthey
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Famous As: Historian
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.

 9 Gershom Scholem

Gershom Scholem
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 5, 1897
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 21, 1982

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. 

 10 Theodor Mommsen

Theodor Mommsen
3
Famous As: Classicist who was widely considered one of the world's foremost authorities Roman civilizations
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.

 11 Nikolaus Pevsner

Nikolaus Pevsner
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Famous As: Historian
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.

 12 Bruno Bauer

Bruno Bauer
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Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Historian
Birthdate: September 6, 1809
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eisenberg, Germany
Died: April 13, 1882

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.

 13 Mildred Harnack

Mildred Harnack
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Famous As: Literary historian
Birthdate: September 16, 1902
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 16, 1943

 14 Ernst Nolte

Ernst Nolte
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Famous As: Former Philosopher, Historian known for Articulating a theory of generic fascism as “resistance to transcendence”
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.

 15 John Weitz

John Weitz
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Famous As: Fashion designer
Birthdate: May 25, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: October 3, 2002

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

Aby Warburg
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Famous As: Art historian
Birthdate: June 13, 1866
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: October 26, 1929

 17 Marie d'Agoult

Marie d'Agoult
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Famous As: French author
Birthdate: December 31, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: March 5, 1876

 18 Fritz Fischer

Fritz Fischer
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: March 5, 1908
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ludwigsstadt, Germany
Died: December 1, 1999

 19 Peter Gay

Peter Gay
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Famous As: Psychologist, Cultural historian, Historian, Writer, University teacher
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.

 20 Erwin Panofsky

Erwin Panofsky
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Famous As: Art historian
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.

 21 Hrosvitha

Hrosvitha
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 0935 AD
Birthplace: Saxony, Germany
Died: 1002 AD

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
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Famous As: Historian
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. 

 23 Samuel von Pufendorf

Samuel von Pufendorf
3
Famous As: Political Philosopher, Economist
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

 24 Joachim Fest

Joachim Fest
3
Famous As: Former Historian known for writings and commentary on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany
Birthdate: December 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 11, 2006

 25 Sebastian Haffner

Sebastian Haffner
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Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: December 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: January 2, 1999

 26 Reinhart Koselleck

Reinhart Koselleck
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 23, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Görlitz, Lower Silesia, Germany
Died: February 3, 2006

 27 Hans Mommsen

Hans Mommsen
3
Famous As: Historian, known for his studies in German social history
Birthdate: November 5, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marburg, Germany
Died: November 5, 2015

 28 Friedrich Carl von Savigny

Friedrich Carl von Savigny
3
Famous As: Jurist
Birthdate: February 21, 1779
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: October 25, 1861

 29 Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg

Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: March 15, 1905
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Died: January 27, 1964

 30 Arthur Moeller van den Bruck

Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 23, 1876
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Solingen, Germany
Died: May 30, 1925

 31 Abraham Geiger

Abraham Geiger
2
Famous As: Former rabbi and scholar, considered the founding father of Reform Judaism
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. 

 32 Martin Broszat

Martin Broszat
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: August 14, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: October 14, 1989

 33 Hildebrand Gurlitt

Hildebrand Gurlitt
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: September 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dresden, German Empire
Died: November 9, 1956

 34 Willy Ley

Willy Ley
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 2, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: June 24, 1969

 35 Heinrich Zimmer

Heinrich Zimmer
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: December 6, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Greifswald, German Empire
Died: March 20, 1943

 36 Heinrich von Treitschke

Heinrich von Treitschke
3
Famous As: Former historian, political writer and National Liberal member of the Reichstag during the time of the German Empire
Birthdate: September 15, 1834
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: April 28, 1896

 37 Karl August Wittfogel

Karl August Wittfogel
2
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: September 6, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Woltersdorf, Lüchow, Province of Hanover, Free State of Prussia, German Empire
Died: May 25, 1988

 38 Ernst Moritz Arndt

Ernst Moritz Arndt
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 26, 1769
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rügen, Germany
Died: January 29, 1860

 39 Ernst Kantorowicz

Ernst Kantorowicz
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: May 3, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: September 9, 1963

 40 Hans Blumenberg

Hans Blumenberg
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 13, 1920
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: March 28, 1996

 41 Andreas Hillgruber

Andreas Hillgruber
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: January 18, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wegorzewo, Poland
Died: May 8, 1989

 42 Prince Heinrich of Hanover

Prince Heinrich of Hanover
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 29, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hanover, Lower Saxony, West Germany

 43 Hans Delbrück

Hans Delbrück
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: November 11, 1848
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rügen, Germany
Died: July 14, 1929

 44 Hans-Ulrich Wehler

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

 45 Sönke Neitzel

Sönke Neitzel
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: June 26, 1968
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany

 46 Karl Dietrich Bracher

Karl Dietrich Bracher
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Famous As: Political Scientist
Birthdate: March 13, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Weimar Republic, Germany
Died: September 19, 2016

 47 Ludwig Uhland

Ludwig Uhland
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 26, 1787
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tübingen, Germany
Died: November 13, 1862

 48 Barthold Georg Niebuhr

Barthold Georg Niebuhr
2
Famous As: Statesman
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. 

 49 Friedrich Meinecke

Friedrich Meinecke
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: October 30, 1862
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Salzwedel, Germany
Died: February 6, 1954

 50 Johann Gustav Droysen

Johann Gustav Droysen
2
Famous As: Historian
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.