German Contributions to the World

Past and Present
Prof. Albrecht Classen
University of Arizona
With some of the greatest
contributions to world culture,
literature, the arts, technology,
medicine, philosophy, and religion
Charlemagne and the Rise of
 First Germanic Empire north of the Alps, after the fall
of the Roman Empire (8th century)
German and English
 English is a Germanic language!
 Anglo-Saxon as the basis of modern English (with
strong Anglo-Norman superstructure since 1066)
Gun Powder
 14th century: Berthold Schwartz (perhaps a legend)
 Radical transformation of all military operations
 Brought an end to medieval knighthood
 (ok, the first were the Chinese, then the Arabs, in late
antiquity the Byzantines with their Greek Fire, and in
the 13th c. Roger Bacon)
Printing Press: Johann Gutenberg
 Gutenberg invented the movable type in Mainz ca.
 Konrad Zuse: first construction in 1936, 1941 the first
functioning computer
Protestant Reformation: Martin
 99 theses, Wittenberg, 1517
 September Testament, 1522
 Old Testament, 1532
Albrecht Dürer
 Greatest sixteenth-century artist, at least north of the
 Otto von Guericke 1663 (Mayor of Magdeburg),
discovers the principle of vacuum
Classical and Romantic Literature
 Goethe and Schiller
 Heine
 Hölderlin
 Heinrich von Kleist
 Eichendorff
 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
19th-21st Century German literature
Theodor Storm
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
Theodor von Fontane
Thomas Mann
Bertolt Brecht
Hermann Hesse
Nelly Sachs
Heinrich Böll
Günter Grass
Herta Müller
 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
German Music
 Bach
 Händel
 Telemann
 Pachelbel
 Mozart
 Haydn
 van Beethoven
 Hindemith
 Stockhausen
Chemistry: Justus von Liebig
 1803-1873
 Agricultural and biological chemistry
 Philipp Reis 1859
 Werner von Siemens, 1866
The automobile
 Daimler Benz
 Porsche
 Audi
 VW
 Opel
Blue Jeans
 Levi Straus, 1873
Diesel engine
 1890 Rudolf Diesel
Street Car
 Werner von Siemens 1881
Tea bag
 Adolf Rambold, 1929
Nuclear Physics
 Otto Hahn 1938
Relativity Theory
 Albert Einstein 1905
 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen 1895
 In modern German we use the verb “röntgen” for ‘to x-
 FELIX HOFFMANN (working for the company
 1897
Bacteriology and Virology
 Robert Koch, 1882: discovery of the tuberculosis
 Foundation of modern medical and biological
Spark Plug
 Robert Bosch 1902
 Purity Law issued by the Bavarian Dukes on April 23,
Orthopedic leg
 1997 Otto Bock introduces the C-Leg
Tooth paste
Chip card
 Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Gröttrup: 1968 patent,
1977 micro processing card
 Since then the world of credit cards and all other kinds
of cards based on chip memory
Screw Anchor, or raw plug/dowel
 1958 Artur Fischer
Jet engine
 Hans von Ohain 1936
 Manfred von Ardenne, 1930
 1935 first regular tv program
Gliding plane
 Otto von Lilienthal 1894
 This inspired the Brothers Wright to experiment with
their first motorized planes
Light bulb
 Heinrich Göbel 1854
Homeopathic medicine
 Samuel von Hahnemann, 1797
 Heinrich Focke, 1936
Coffee filter
 Melitta Benz, 1908
 She was just tired of handling all the waste coffee in
her drink and used, as a stop-gap measure, her son’s
ink-pad paper from school. Voila, the coffee filter was
Air bag
 1971 Mercedes Benz develops the first effective air bag
Modern refrigerator
 Company Foron 1993: Freon free refrigeration
 This has revolutionized the global battle against the
depletion of the ozone layer
 Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler 1885
MP3 player
 1993; Fraunhofer-Institute
Mouth Organ, or chromatic
 Christian Friedrich Burschmann, 1821
Wood based paper
 Friedrich Gottlieb Keller 1843
Birth control pill
 Schering company, 1961
Record player
 Emil Berliner 1887
 Rudolf Hell 1951
Let’s not forget the countless
other inventions from all over
the world.
has been and continues to be an
amazing country and people!
It has contributed to a disproportionate degree to the
cultural and technological development of this world!
Thank you very much!
For further information, contact
me at:
520 621-1395