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December 6 in German History

December 6

St. Nicholas Day in Germany. St. Nicholas Day, or Eve, is celebrated on December 6. This is the favorite holiday of all children – it’s a gift-giving day. When evening comes, St. Nicholas, a reverend gray-haired figure with flowing beard, wearing gorgeous bishop’s garments, gold embroidered cope, mitre and pastoral staff, knocks on doors and inquires about the behavior of the children. The custom of examining the children, where they will cite a verse, sing, or otherwise show their skills, is still widespread in German-speaking countries. Each little one gets a gift for his performance.

December 6, 1731

Birth of Sophie von La Roche (born Gutermann) in Kaufbeuern, Germany. La Roche’s novel Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim (1771) was the first German novel written by a woman. La Roche was the cousin of Christoph Martin Wieland and the Grandmother of Bettina von Arnim and Clemens Brentano.

December 6, 1822

Birth of Eberhard Faber in Stein, Germany. The brothers Lothar and Eberhard Faber built a small family pencil business into a worldwide firm producing writing instruments and art supplies. The younger brother, Eberhard, immigrated to the United States in 1849 to build a factory to supply the American market. The European branch of the company is no longer owned by the Faber family, but the American branch is.

December 6, 1834

Death of Adolf von Lützow in Berlin, Germany. After Napoleon had defeated Prussia, Lützow organized a cavalry numbering over 3,000 troops (the Lützowsche Freikorps) which operated in guerrilla fashion behind French lines. His corps continued activity until the final defeat of Napoleon.

December 6, 1835

Birth of Rudolf Fittig in Hamburg, Germany. Fittig was an organic chemist at the Universities of Tübingen and Strassburg. He was one of the first to study the action of sodium on organic compounds.

December 6, 1846

Birth of Wilhelm Herrmann in Melkow, Germany. Herrmann was a Protestant theologian at the University of Marburg. He was heavily influenced by the thinking of Immanuel Kant and Albrecht Ritschl and in turn exerted lasting influence on his students Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. He emphasized the experience of the life of Christ as the key to religion rather than doctrine.

December 6, 1848

Birth of Johann Palisa in Troppau, Silesia (now Czech Republic). Troppau was an astronomer at the Vienna Observatory who discovered 120 asteroids and published catalogs with the position of nearly 5,000 stars.

December 6, 1868

Death of August Schleicher in Jena, Germany. Schleicher was a professor of linguistics at the University of Jena who did extensive work in the scientific theory of language. In his Compendium der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen (1862) he attempted to reconstruct the Indo-European language. In his theories he combined Hegelian and Darwinian principles.

December 6, 1875

Death of Johann Karl Rodertus in Jagetzow, Germany. Rodertus was an economist whose views on economics were sufficiently liberal to enable economic reform, but sufficiently conservative to be accepted by the powers of the times. He was thus a key figure in passing the economic/social reforms in Prussia. He recognized that the working poor could not earn enough to have a positive effect on the whole of the national economy and thus needed more to effect a general rise in the standard of living.

December 6, 1892

Death of Ernst Werner von Siemens, founder of Siemens AG, in Berlin, Germany. Siemens received his training as an electrical engineer in the Prussian artillery service. In 1842 he invented an electroplating process. He saw his first telegraph in 1837 and immediately recognized its potential. In 1847 with a partner, Johann Georg Halske, he founded a telegraph company in Berlin. The firm, Telegraphenbauanstalt Siemens & Halske, laid telegraph cable and entered new production of electrical products as the technology developed. He and his brother Carl set up subsidiary factories in England, Russia, Austria and France. His company laid cables across the Mediterranean and from Europe to India.

December 6, 1894

First meeting in the new Reichstag building in Berlin.

December 6, 1898

Birth of Alfred Eisenstaedt in Dirschau, Germany, (now in Poland). Eisenstaedt was a photojournalist who began his career in the 20’s and 30’s. He covered the rise of the Nazi party in pictures. In 1935 he immigrated to the United States where he became one of the first Life Magazine photographers. During his career with Life he was credited with 2,500 picture stories and 90 cover photos.

December 6, 1939

Werner Heisenberg submits his first research report to the German army concerning a nuclear reactor.

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