Wo ist Reinach?

Adolf Reinach vor seinem Schreibtisch sitzend (Göttingen). Photo courtesy of Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München/Bildarchiv.

One thing I have found about researching Adolf Reinach is that things are never dull; I could be reading an article of his for the 20th time and suddenly notice something I hadn’t before, or I find a rough note or a letter that isn’t translated yet that deserves to be, or some new story about his life surfaces.  I’ve learned to be flexible – Dead people can hold a lot of secrets and surprises!  Some have mysteries ….

After my recent Passendaele post, I was contacted by a very kind German woman who is associated with the Edith Stein Society (thank you, Mary!).  She had read my post and had a very interesting story to share with me.  According to Edith Stein and Dietrich von Hildebrand, Reinach’s body was returned to Germany in December 1917 at the request of his widow, Anna.  There was a small, quiet funeral service held on 31st December 1917, attended by Stein, von Hildebrand, Anna, and a few others, at the Göttingen City Cemetery.  Stein was asked by Husserl to represent him, and von Hildebrand gave the eulogy.  The grave stone was designed by Adolf von Hildebrand, Dietrich’s father who was a famous sculptor and author.

Reinach’s grave in the Göttingen City Cemetery. Photo taken by Mary Somers Heidhues.

I was completely surprised by this detail, as you can imagine. When I went in search of this story, I found confirmation in a footnote in the book Edith Stein Letters to Roman Ingarden, but prior to this I had never heard this story (in the nearly 20 years I have spent studying Reinach).  The biographical details I had read by Barry Smith, Karl Schuhmann, and then Eberhard Avé-Lallemant mentioned the date he died on the battlefield but never where his body was buried. This has created a very interesting situation, since Reinach’s body seems to be in two places.  Where actually lies Reinach’s body?  The Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Commission) records show that he is in the Kameraden Grab (Comrades Grave) at the Langemarck German Military Cemetery (as I described in a previous post and with photos) and then there is this personal story of his students that he is buried in the Göttingen City Cemetery.  Where will I visit to place my flowers in remembrance?  I might go to both places, just so I’m covered.

Kameraden Grab at the Langemarck Military Cemetery. Photo taken by Edouard Jolly.

So, my first step was to email the Volksbund, relay this story to them, and see if they can find any paperwork on the repatriation to Germany (and to in the very least to make them aware of this issue).  I am waiting on their response still.  I contacted a friend at the military archives in Freiburg, and he told me they have no record of it – to email the Volksbund.  When I relayed the contents of my email exchange to my colleague Pieter at the Flanders Fields Museum, he was also surprised. He told me that if the Volksbund could find the paperwork, it would also give us other details, such as where he was killed exactly and possibly where he was first buried.  The other source of Pieter’s surprise concerned the repatriation itself: it was not very common that bodies were repatriated, and definitely not common during the war (Reinach’s body would have been moved while the war was still ongoing).  He told me that the Commonwealth Graves Commission commemorates as close as possible to the spot of death, and the French had a law voted in 1920, to give families the choice to repatriate the bodies of their beloved to their place of origin, but for the Germans (as far as he knows) there was not such a regulation.  If Reinach’s body was repatriated, the only reason we both can think of is the influence and network of Edmund Husserl. For example, when his son, Wolfgang, was injured in battle in 1915, Husserl was able to go visit him in the hospital at the Western Front.  This was not a common thing, but a privilege awarded to few.  It stands to reason that Husserl would have used his influence to have Reinach returned home, since he was a brilliant student, close friend, and a phenomenological colleague.  Even with their theoretical differences, Husserl treated Reinach and his wife like family.

With my commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Reinach coming up this November at the Flanders Fields Museum, I can only hope we find the answer to this mystery.  I am hopeful, but with so much regimental and military records lost during WWII I may never have the absolute confirmation I want.

Happy 104th Wedding Anniversary, Adolf & Anna!

Anna& Adolf
Adolf & Anna

On 14 September 1912, Dr. Adolf Reinach wed Dr. Anna Stettenheimer in Mainz, Germany.

Anna was a brilliant, well-educated, kind woman.  In 1899, she was one of three female students of the newly founded Stuttgart Mädchengymnasium, graduating with a high school diploma in 1904.  In that same year, by royal decree, women were granted the right to regular enrolment at University of Tübingen, and Anna seized the opportunity choosing the field of medicine. Shortly after she changed fields to physics, and earned her doctorate in 1907 with a thesis on the spectral lines in magnetic fields in atomic physics, titled “Eine absolute Messung des Zeemannphänomens”.  It is interesting to note that her work in physics wasn’t without influence on her future husband’s thinking and research.  In 1911 and 1912, she taught at the Stuttgart Mädchengymnasium, as head teacher for the natural sciences (Oberlehrin für Naturwissenschaften) until she married Adolf. After their nuptials, Anna resigned from teaching and while she did take on traditional housewife duties she regularly attended her husband’s lectures and actively engaged with the students.

Anna Stettenheimer und Gertrud Stockmayer
Anna Stettenheimer and Gertrud Stockmayer, two of the first three enrolled female students at the Universität Tübingen

In Edith Stein’s unfinished autobiography, she describes Anna as tall and slender, with graceful movements like a doe, and a charming Suabian dialect.  She and Anna became very dear friends over time, and especially in the wake of Reinach’s death in 1917.  Stein speaks of many warm and happy memories in their home, and at one point tells of a sweet and funny story (dating around 1913) where she was walking up to the Reinach’s home for a visit, Anna just a few steps ahead of her:

Only years later did she tell me something I had not even noticed at the time:  Reinach had been standing at the window on the floor above, watching her approach.  She had called up to him softly: ‘Adole, Büble, Herzle!’ He made frantic motions to her to desist as he saw me coming behind her; then, when she came upstairs, he had reproached her, asking how she could humiliate him so in the presence of one of his students. (p. 280)

While Anna and Adolf were no doubt always proper and professional in front of students and colleagues, the impression you get from the stories of Stein is that these two were very deeply in love and a good match in intellect, wit and humour.


For more on Anna Reinach, see:

“Adolf und Anne Reinach, Edith Steins Mentoren im Studium und auf dem Glaubensweg” by Beate Beckmann-Zöller in Phenomenology 2005. Volume 4:  Selected essays from Northern Europe, Part 1., Hans Rainer Sepp & Ion Copoeru, eds., Zeta Books: 2007.

https://www.yumpu.com/de/document/view/8047567/anna-stettenheimer-1884-1953-universitat-tubingen

http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/einrichtungen/universitaetsbibliothek/ueber-uns/veranstaltungen-ausstellungen/ausstellungen/2004/frauenstudium.html

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Reinach

Happy Birthday, Adolf Reinach!

reinach.BDay.pic
Today in 1883 Adolf Bernhard Philipp Reinach was born.

According to Edith Stein, in her unfinished autobiography Life In A Jewish Family: 1891-1916, Reinach came home to Göttingen on furlough for Christmas of 1915 and arrived in time to celebrate his 32nd birthday. Pauline Reinach, Adolf’s sister, wrote Stein a letter inviting her to visit and celebrate the two occasions. Stein of course happily accepted, exclaiming to herself: “Furlough! That possibility had never even occurred to me. So far ‘seeing Reinach again’ had been synonymous, always with ‘peace at war’s end.’ It was almost too good to be true.” (pgs. 377-378) She arrived in Göttingen on the 22nd of December with a birthday gift in hand – a good timely book – and made her way to the Reinachs’ home. After seeing Adolf Reinach for the first time in over a year, Stein writes: “Reinach had grown broad and strong; military service agreed with him. It was on this occasion that I truly got to know Frau Reinach. Formerly my visits to their home had been mostly on a student-to-teacher basis. But now I belonged to the most intimate circle, to the ‘mourners of the first rank’ as Reinach once facetiously put it when he imagined how things might go should he be killed.” (pg. 379) This circle consisted of his wife Anna, his sister Pauline, and then Stein and Erika Gothe. This comment of Reinach’s, while made in jest, turned out to be rather prophetic since he was killed on the battlefield in 1917 and this circle of friends came together to mourn. Stein and Anna Reinach became very close friends, and it was Stein who helped put Adolf’s philosophical writings in order after his death.

It’s rather interesting to think that 100 years ago today Reinach was alive and at home celebrating his birthday with his friends and family. Stein’s notes on the joyous occasion are brief but her deep fondness for the Reinachs’ is alive in her descriptions.

So rather than focus on Reinach’s death, let us think of his life and legacy. Today a major figure of both the Munich and Göttingen phenomenology circles was born; a philosopher and realist phenomenologist who inspired the great minds of Roman Ingarden, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Hedwig Conrad-Martius, Winthrop Bell, Edith Stein, and many others.

Happy 132nd Birthday, Adolf Reinach!