post Eugen Mittwoch

January 9th, 2008

Filed under: Academic Cooperations — Admassu @ 15:51

With Eugen Mittwoch we conclude this set of great German scholars of Ethiopian languages. His brilliant career was brought to a close by the unhappy events of the period after 1933. He was obliged to emigrate and died in exile in England in 1942. Of him it was written in one obituary: “He was quite scholar. He was faithfully attached to his German fatherland and to the traditions of his Jewish fathers. For his family he was a model paterfamilias, and for the poor and needy among his fellow-believers a friend who was always ready to help.” In 1905, when Friedrich Rosen led the first German legation to Ethiopia and thus opened a new chapter in the history of Ethiopian - German relations, a professorial chair was created for Ethiopian studies at the University of Berlin, with the aim of promoting academic contacts between Ethiopia and Germany.

Eugen Mittwoch (1876 - 1942)

Eugen Mittwoch was the first person to hold this post, and for many years he also directed the famous “Seminar für Orientalishe Sprachen” (Seminar for Oriental Languages), which at that time had the same status as the School of Oriental and African Studies in London has today. Like other German orientalists, Mittwoch was at home in Persian, Arabic and Turkish. His principal area of study, however, was Ethiopia, especially the literature and language of the Amhara. Here he made accessible a large amount of new material. Of particular benefit for him was the close contact which he had over a period of many years with Alaqa Tayye, the first person to hold the post of lector for Ethiopian languages at the University of Berlin. Together with him he published a large number of works on popular traditions of the Amhara. A legation visit to Berlin by the Belatengeta Heruy gave Mittwoch the opportunity to get to know this remarkable man, and this contact resulted in a very important piece of academic work.

Booklet: “Three Hundred Years of Ethiopian-German Academic Collaboration.”
Author: Eike Haberland (1924 - 1992)
1986. 39 pages, EUR 5,—. ISBN 3-515-04766-2
Frobenius Institute
Johann Wolfgang Goethe University
Frankfurt, Germany

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