Leo Spitzer, Prof. Dr.

7.2.1887 – 16.9.1960
born in Wien, Austria died in Forte dei Marmi, Italy

(Siegfried) Leo Spitzer had graduated from high school ("Franz Josephs-Gymnasium") in Vienna in 1906, and then studied in Vienna, Paris/France, Leipzig/Germany, Rome and Naples/Italy. He graduated at the Philosophical School of the University of Vienna in Romance languages and literature Studies on May 20th, 1910 with the academic degree 'Dr. phil.' (dissertation: 'Die Wortbildung als stilistisches Mittel, exemplifiziert an Rabelais, nebst einem Anhang ueber die Wortbildung bei Balzac in seinen Contes Drolatiques'). In 1913 he was promoted lecturer ("Privatdozent") of Romance languaged and literature. In 1915/16 he served in the Austrian-Hungarian army in World War I and worked for the Austrian censorship authorities examining letters by Italian war prisoners.
Leo Spitzer moved to the University of Bonn in 1918 as a lecturer ("Privatdozent"), received a teaching assignment for literture and languages of the Iberian peninsula in 1920 and became ao. professor in 1922.
In 1925 Spitzer became o. professor at the University of Marburg and head of the Romance seminar, in 1930 professor of Romance studies at the University of Cologne, where he was involved in the founding of the Portuguese-Brazilian department in 1931.

After the National Socialists' seizure of power in Germany he was persecuted as a Jew, lost his position and was thrown out of the University in 1933. He emigrated to Istanbul/Turkey in 1933, whre he became o. professor of "European Philology".
From 1936 onwards Spitzer was professor of Romance and Comparative Philology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore/USA.
He was deprived of his academic degree on June 6th, 1939 with the racist argument, that he as a Jew was not considered dignified an academic degree of a German university ('eines akademischen Grades einer deutschen Hochschule unwuerdig'). It took 69 years since the deprivation – and a very long time since the end of Nazism – until the regranting of the doctorate took finally place in 2008 (posthumously).

In 1955 he was awarded the Antonio-Feltrinelli-prize by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. In 1956 he was emerited.

Katharina Kniefacz

Zuletzt aktualisiert am 09/03/21