Karl Schmid

Karl Schmid

Karl Schmid, who was born in Zurich on the 31st January 1907 and died on the 4th August 1974. He was a Swiss philologist, Germanist and literary scholar. He studied German and history at the University of Zurich and the Humboldt University of Berlin from 1926 to 1934. In 1934 he received his doctoral degree with Emil Ermatinger. In the years from 1931 to 1938 he worked as a high school teacher. From 1938 to 1947 he was a teacher of German and history at the Gymnasium of the Canton of Zurich.

In 1944 he was appointed as a tenured professor of German Language and Literature at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and in 1947 he became a full professor. From 1953 to 1957 he was president of ETH Zurich and emerite in 1974.

Schmid was a member of the Swiss militia army from 1927 to 1970, reaching the rank of Colonel of the General Staff and Chief of Staff of the 3rd Army Corps. Being on the General Staff of the Army, he was a lecturer in the army training programs. From 1967 to 1970 he was the government appointed head of the Commission to study strategic issues (Studienkommission für strategische Fragen). In 1940 he married the actress Elsie Attenhofer.

Schmid was not only active as a university professor, as well as the President of the ETH Zurich, but was particularly involved as a German scholar and writer. With his publications on the subjects “Switzerland and Europe,” he was one of the Swiss pioneers. His essays “Zur seelischen Lage des Soldaten, Der Soldat und der Tod” (mental situation of the soldier, soldier and death) and his publication “Die Artillerie als Führungselement, Die Wandelungen im Geiste der Führung, Psychologische Aspekte des totalen Krieges” (artillery as a guiding element, the changes in the spirit of leadership, psychological aspects of total war) and in particular “Zum Tode des Generals” (to the general’s death) have essentially formed the opinions of the postwar in Switzerland. Schmid was considered an expert in military defence and strategy and a leader in political science and was a widely recognised public individual.

The Karl Schmid Foundation, which was founded in 1992, organises together with the Center for Security Policy and Conflict Analysis of the ETH Zurich regular conferences on topics of security and military history. Since 2000, the Karl Schmid-Prize is awarded for outstanding contributions to the understanding of fundamental questions in literature, history and the present.

References: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Schmid; http://www.ethistory.ethz.ch/besichtigungen/touren/vitrinen/politkarrieren/vitrine43/

List of publications: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Schmid

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer, office@drolshammer.com,  www.drolshammer.net

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