Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Bielefeld University mourns the loss of Professor Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wehler

Professor Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, one of the most renowned contemporary historians in Germany, died suddenly in Bielefeld during the night of 6 July 2014 at the age of 82 years. Wehler was Professor of General History specializing in the 19th and 20th centuries at Bielefeld University from 1971 until his retirement in 1996. His approach to research based on the social sciences has decisively shaped the study of history in Germany. Bielefeld University mourns the loss of one of its most outstanding academics.

Wehler played a decisive role in setting up Bielefeld University?s Faculty of History with its specific research profile. Together with his contemporaries, he placed historiography in Germany on a theoretical foundation. The Dean of the Faculty, Angelika Epple, emphasized "Hans-Ulrich Wehler introduced new standards to the discipline. We have lost not only an impressive academic but also a colleague who was taking a strong active interest in the life of the department right up until last Friday."

Mit seinen Standardwerken zur Sozial- und Gesellschaftsgeschichte nimmt Hans-Ulrich Wehler in der scientific community eine herausragende Stellung ein. Sein Renommee hat entscheidend zum internationalen Ruf der Universität Bielefeld beigetragen, deren Ehrensenator er seit 2004 war. Große Aufmerksamkeit erregte nicht zuletzt seine seit 1987 erscheinende fünfbändige "Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte", die die Zeit von 1700 bis 1990 abdeckt.

With his standard works on social history, Hans-Ulrich Wehler holds an outstanding position in the scientific community. His renown has contributed decisively to the international reputation of Bielefeld University, where he was appointed an honorary member of the senate in 2004. His five-volume series Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte [German social history], launched in 1987 and now covering the period from 1700 to 1990, continues to attract much attention going far beyond the borders of academia.

Wehler saw his role as a historian ? also in light of his own experiences during the National Socialist era ? to be that of a critical commentator on conditions in society. As recently as 2013, he criticized the increasing social inequality in Germany in his study Die neue Umverteilung [The new redistribution]. Wehler received numerous honours and prizes for his achievements. In 2004 he became one of the few humanities scholars to be awarded the Helmholtz Medal ? the most prestigious scientific award of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Humanities. In 2006, he became an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

In memoriam

"With Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Bielefeld University has lost one of its greatest personalities. We have lost an exceptional academic whose innovative and definitive publications have made him a guiding light for generations of historians. He made a decisive contribution to building up the excellent reputation of history at Bielefeld and was a great international ambassador for our University."

Professor Dr.-Ing.
Gerhard Sagerer,
Rektor, Bielefeld University