Queer Places:
Bergfriedhof Heidelberg Heidelberg, Stadtkreis Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Percy Paul Heinrich Gothein (born May 22, 1896 in Bonn , † December 22, 1944 in the Neuengamme concentration camp ) was a German writer and Renaissance researcher . The dedica of Woldemar Graf Uxkull-Gyllenband's book on Greek sculpture is to Gothein and takes a line from a verse that Uxkull's deceased brother, Bernhard Graf Uxkull-Gyllenband, had written to his own same-sex lover: "We rarely had a rich day when love did not course though our blood."

Percy Gothein was a son of the national economist Eberhard Gothein and his wife Marie Luise Gothein and a nephew of the politician Georg Gothein . He first lived in Bonn, then in Heidelberg . Here he noticed the famous poet Stefan George on the street in 1910 . There were several encounters, in May 1911 Gothein was even allowed to visit George in his home town of Bingen . Gothein was now increasingly under the spell of George's poetry and personality. He kept a diary of his encounters with the poet and was finally invited to a private reading for the first time in 1914 - he was now able to feel familiar. [1]

After graduating from high school, Gothein volunteered for World War I and was injured in the head in 1915. [2] Dismissed from the military service, he studied philosophy at the universities of Heidelberg , Berlin and Goettingen , then Romance at Karl Vossler in Munich . [3] At a Pentecostal meeting from 7 to 9 June 1919 invited by Stefan George for the first time after World War II to Heidelberg, Gothein met with Erich Boehringer and Woldemar Graf Uxkull-Gyllenband also "officially" in the George circle. His nickname was "Peter" in the George Circle. After his dissertation in Munich was rejected because "the usual external form of such work was not preserved", [4] he finished his studies with Leonardo Olschki in Heidelberg in 1923 . His dissertation was entitled The Antique Reminiscences of the Chansons deste .

The beginning of the friendship with Wolfgang Frommel and the formation of a common circle of friends who felt committed to the spirit of George, led Gothein, in 1923-24 in Berlin and Wertheim to write an approximately 450-page book, published only in excerpts in the journal Castrum Peregrini [5] . Complete typescript, which was mostly titled in the circle as "Opus Petri". As a souvenir book, it was intended to explain the understanding of development and education through poetry prevailing in the George Circle. But then George separated from him - probably also because Gothein was too open about his homosexuality. [6]In conclusion, George is said to have noticed that Gothein had "looked into the sun too long [...] and [dizzled] therefore blinded by the streets. He saw himself blindly to him [George] and lost sight of reality. ” [7] After Gothein invited George to Bonn in 1931, he is said to have "laughed extraordinarily" and it was "forgiven". [8th]This close bond between Gothein and George was again very important to Wolfgang Frommel in his friendship with Gothein: Frommel, who wanted Castrum Peregrini to be understood as a successor to the George Circle, had not been in contact with George himself. Gothein and his friendship with him served as evidence of a direct line between the two circles. Gothein's notes from the time with Stefan George, the so-called Opus Petri, were treasured in Amsterdam and not published. [9]


Friends' Festival, April 1944, in Castrum Peregini. In the middle Wolfgang Frommel on the right and Percy Gothein on the left

A first habilitation project on Dante [10] led to no result. That is why Gothein taught at the Odenwald School in 1926 before working as a research assistant at the Romance Seminar at the University of Bonn and then under Leo Spitzer at the University of Cologne . His habilitation thesis on Guarino Veronese and Francesco Barbaro , Italian scholars of the 15th century, were not accepted. Nevertheless, he published his investigation in 1932 in the publishing house Die Runde , which he had founded two years earlier with Edwin Maria Landau and Wolfgang Frommel in Berlin.

Gothein translated Francesco Barbaro's book about marriage and wrote from 1934–1935 a longer text on The Ranks in the World of Stefan George . Initially "slightly browned", [12] he soon had difficulties during the Nazi era because of his father's ancestry; he was also investigated several times on the basis of paragraph 175 , which criminalized homosexuality, until he finally left Berlin. [13]He crossed large parts of Germany, Switzerland and Italy on his motorcycle. A friend described a trip with Gothein: “Motorcycling was a passion for Percy; he said there was something 'mythical' about it. [… On Percy's machine] I was trembling. He took his hand off the handlebar, held it in front of his mouth and called over one shoulder: 'If we fall now, there is only one grease stain left!' ”. [14] He then lived a long time in Italy, especially in Venice and Florence . During this time he worked on Zacharias Trevisan , the statesman model of Francesco Barbaro, and his student Ludovico Foscarini .

After a visit to Frommel's Castrum Peregrini in Amsterdam in November 1943, he came to Amsterdam again in February 1944 - also “on behalf of the German resistance” or the Kreisau Circle , to which Theodor Haubach belonged [15] . This visit is often guaranteed, but Gothein's connection to the Kreisau district - despite his friendship with Theodor Haubach - is less so. Even Ulrich Raulff had it expressed doubts [16] , and also in the 2016 published second edition book Stefan George and his circle one speaks cautiously of Gothein's "connections to the resistance (Kreisau district, indirectly also to the conspiracy around Stauffenberg) which have not been finally proven". [17]

During this last stay in Amsterdam, Gothein's poem Tyrannis was published in 1944 , which deals with tyrant murder and friendship, and was therefore disguised as a Greek translation of a certain Peter von Uri, which had already appeared in 1939.

Percy Gothein traveled to youthful friends in Ommen on July 25, 1944 . The night after arrival, "Percy and Simon were already asleep, there was a knock. The police asked for the IDs of the new arrivals. The papers were to be picked up at the mayor's office in the morning. Percy's German passport was fine, and the reason for his trip was legitimate. He turned and fell asleep again. But he had underestimated the heightened vigilance that began in the days after July 20, and which for the first time focused particularly on Germans. [...] Half an hour later there was another knock, this time violently and kicking the door. The commander of the 'Erika' camp himself drove up in the car. ” [18]Gothein, Vincent Weyand and Simon van Keulen were arrested and initially sent to the Kamp Erika in the Netherlands . “The half-Jewish Vincent Weijand was first transported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and then to the Buchenwald concentration camp , where he died on February 22, 1945 at the age of 23. […] Simon Van Keulen, whom Gisèle was able to visit in the Erika camp with a lot of bluff and bravery, managed to escape against all odds. He jumped out of the train, which transported him to Germany, and was able to return in the Herengracht 401, where he spent the rest of the war years. " [19] Percy Gothein came from Kamp Erika made in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and finally on October 16, 1944 as a political prisoner in the Neuengamme concentration camp , where the tall, strong man died two months later. [20]

Vincent Weijand
Vincent Weyand

In a conversation Simon van Keulen "denied emphatically that he had been caught in flagranti" with Percy, but added that there was only a single bed in the small house. [23]However, Keilson-Lauritz also mentions that Wolfgang Cordan only wrote his version down in his diary and did not repeat it later. "In his autobiography, in which the events in Ommen remain unmentioned, Cordan speaks respectfully of Gothein - whom he is rather critical of in his diary -: he was killed 'by inhumane Germans in an extermination camp. […] He didn't hate Germany, he suffered for Germany.” [24] Francesca Rheannon, the daughter of tenants in Herengracht 401 during the time of the German occupation, nevertheless tends to the version handed down by Cordan and also brings a possible one Denunciation into play. [25]Bock, too, had already indicated that Gothein and his companions had noticed "the inhabitants of the row village and the rather German-hostile Dutch gendameria" when they arrived in Ommen, and after the first police visit Gotheim underestimated the vigilance of the gendarmes after the events of July 20 could have. [26]

In 1945 a publication under the name Castrum Peregrini appeared for the first time in an edition of 400 copies in Amsterdam . It was a memory book for Percy Gothein, Vincent Weijand and Liselotte Brinitzer, who drowned in a bathing accident in August 1945 . The poems contained in the volume “resulted in a triple memorial filled with religious submission”. [27] With respect to judges Brinitzers death, however Joke Haverkorn far more critical about this book: "Usually you bury such a Tote - Frommel, however, has made them a Kultbegründerin. Like Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand, who were killed by the Nazis - he based the myth of Castrum after 1945 on these three dead. ” [28]Haverkorn describes this “cult justification” or instrumentalization for a new cult elsewhere as a result of the memorial book and the role assigned to it in particular by Liselotte Brinitzer. “In the commemorative book, which was published in 1945, it is remembered through text and poems. And it is depicted there as one of the three cornerstones on which the Castrum Peregrini building, W.'s dream of a friendship society, should rest. The other two important personalities are Percy Gothein and Vincent Weyand. ” [29] For Anaïs Van Ertvelde, the foundation stone for the foundation of the magazine Castrum Peregrini was laid with this memorial book . [30]

Percy Gothein's tomb is in the Heidelberg Bergfriedhof .


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