The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Arndt, Ernst Moritz

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ARNDT, ärnt, Ernst Moritz, German poet and patriot: b. Schoritz, on the Island of Rügen (then Swedish territory), 26 Dec. 1769; d. Bonn, 29 Jan. 1860. His father was a prosperous peasant and gave his son a good schooling with the object of training him for the ministry. He finished his studies at Greifswald and Jena, after which, deciding that he did not want to enter the clerical profession, he visited many other countries. In 1806 he was appointed professor of history at Greifswald. Here he wrote ‘Der Geist der Zeit’ (1807), in which he attacked Napoleon with such boldness that after the battle of Jena he was obliged to flee to Sweden. Three years later he was able to return to his professorial work. In 1812, however, he was again obliged to leave the country and this time, on the invitation of Baron von Stein, he went to Russia. After the defeat of the French in Russia in that same year he returned to Prussia where he continued to advocate German unity. He was in the midst of the agitation that resulted in the War of Liberation which culminated in the battle of Leipzig. His writings, full of energy and fire, roused the German patriots during this period and several poems which he wrote then were put to music and sung by the soldiers; since then several of them have become national songs. Most notable of these, ‘Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?,’ is now sung wherever German is spoken. In 1817 he married the sister of Schleiermacher, the great liberal preacher and theologian. The following year he was appointed professor of history in the newly-established University of Bonn, but his liberal views brought him into disfavor with the authorities and two years later he was suspended. The next 20 years of his life was spent in retirement. On the accession of Frederick Wilhelm IV to the throne of Prussia he was, in 1840, restored to his professorship at Bonn. In 1848 he was one of the deputation to offer to the King of Prussia the crown of Imperial Germany. Arndt's fame rests rather on his ability to rouse the fires of enthusiasm in others than on any great talents displayed in his work. He was immensely popular in his time and his popularity was founded on such sincere and true personal qualities that it has never since quite died out. His chief works are ‘Märchen und Jugenderinnerungen’ (1818); ‘Versuch einer Geschichte der Leibeigenschaft in Pommern und Rügen’ (1803); ‘Deutscher Volkskatechismus’ (1812); ‘Was bedeutet Landwehr und Landsturm?’ (1813); ‘Der Rhein, Deutschlands Strom aber nicht Deutschlands Grenze’ (1813); ‘Erinnerungen aus meinem äussern Leben’ (Leipzig 1840). The latter work forms the basis of E. M. Seeley's ‘Life and Adventures of E. M. Arndt’ (1879). Various biographies have been written, the best being by Schenkel (Elberfeld 1869), Langenberg (Bonn 1869) and Bauer (Hamburg 1882).