Siegfried Marck

9th March 1889 to 1957

Siegfried Marck, signature, University of Breslau, winter 1932-1933

Marck was a German Jewish philosopher who was born and grew up in Breslau. Attending the university there, he studied law, as had his father and grandfather before him. Having fought in the First World War, Marck came out of the experience a pacifist; he also joined the SDP (the Social Democratic Party), which had its roots in Judaism, humanism, Marxism and Enlightenment thinking.

Marck’s address can be seen on the 1933 Breslau synagogue lists, as shown below; he lived at Kurfürstenstrasse 29.

Breslau synagogue list, 1933. Source: Central Jewish Library online
Kurfürsten straße, Breslau, 1931

In 1924 Marck became a professor of sociology and philosophy.

As shown in the extract below from the Breslau handbook, 1930-1931, when Werner Weissenberg was a student at Breslau in the early to mid 1930s, Marck was teaching philosophy seminars – including a historical systems module, at Schmiedebrücke.

Dr Siegfried Marck, University of Breslau, 1930-1931
Schmiedebrücke, Breslau, 1931

Marck was part of the examinations office for philosophy in that year, and also taught on a significant course offered at Breslau – the aim of which was to integrate ‘applied sciences’, including ‘spiritual sciences’ such as philosophy and theology, with mathematics, law, and medicine, for example. This area of teaching was titled Philosophie im Rahmen der Universitas Literarum – which roughly translates as ‘Philosophy within the framework of the universitas literarum’. The universitas literarum was a rounded approach to learning that differentiated Breslau from the purely technical universities in Germany during this period. Breslau was an example, then, of what was known as a ‘full university’ (Volluniversität).

Here, Marck taught ‘Introduction to pedagogy, with particular regard to its relationship to social science’, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11am to 12pm. He also taught Hegel and hegelianism on Modays from 5pm to 6pm, and finally, ‘Three great systems at the beginning of modern philosophy: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz’, on Fridays from 5pm to 6pm.

Siegfried Marck, University of Breslau, 1930-1931

The final seminars on which Marck is listed as teaching in the academic year 1930-1931 were ‘Recognition theory, psychology and metaphysics according to Hegel’, and some ‘General lectures for all teachers’, which again came under the heading of the ‘universitas literarum’: ‘A complete lecture. See the announcements in the faculties’ departments’. These were held on Tuesdays from 8pm to 9pm.

When the National Socialists took power, however, and the government legislated against Jews from 1933 onwards, Dr Siegfried Marck had to leave Breslau university. For a short time he had a post in Freiburg, from which he was also soon removed. Marck was next forced to live in exile in France, and then fled to the USA, where he was awarded a professorship in philosophy at Chicago, where he remained until his death in 1957.

Siegfried Marck, AJR, obituary, 1957

All black and white extracts on this page are from the 'Vorlesungs und Personal Verzeichnis der Schlesischen Friedrich Wilhelms Universität zu Breslau Winter Semester 1930/1931', and the equivalent handbook for 1935-1936, available online at the University of Wrocław.

The map extract is from the excellent fotopolska.eu.