Kroner, Richard

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Richard Jakob Kroner was born on March 8, 1884, the first of two sons of the Glatz (Silesia)-based gynecologist Traugott Kroner (1854-1899), and his wife Margarete Kroner née Heymann, who came from a wealthy merchant family from the town of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). Richard Kroner's grandfather on his father's side was a rabbi as was his uncle Theodor Kroner, who was the rabbi of Erfurt. Kurt, the younger brother of Richard Kroner, was born in 1885 and died at the age of 44 in 1929.

Having passed the Abitur at the Gymnasium zu St. Maria Magdalena (grammar school, Breslau) in 1902, Richard Kroner began to study philosophy and literature in Breslau, Berlin, Heidelberg and Freiburg, where he earned his doctorate in 1908 (PhD thesis: Über logische und ästhetische Allgemeingültigkeit ). He stayed in Freiburg to continue his research, and founded the philosophical magazine Logos in 1910, for which he was the responsible editor until 1938. Only four years, in 1914, later he qualified as a university lecturer by writing his Habilitation about "Zweck und Gesetz in der Biologie". In 1919, after completing his service in World War I, he became associate professor at the University of Freiburg. At this time, Richard Kroner was devoted to the philosophy of Hegel and was writing his principal work Von Kant bis Hegel, a history of the philosophy of the German Idealismus .

In 1924 Richard Kroner received a full professorship for philosophy in Dresden, where he stayed until 1928. In Dresden, he met Paul Tillich, who later became his colleague at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. One year later he became professor of philosophy at the University of Kiel. In 1930 he founded the "Internationale Hegelgesellschaft," and remained the chairman until 1934. In the same year, Richard Kroner - being a converted Christian with Jewish origins - was forced from the University staff as part of the so-called "Entpflichtungsverfahren;" his books were burnt in public. In 1938 Richard Kroner finally left Germany, and immigrated to England, where a former student of his, M. B. Foster, was teaching in Oxford (Christ Church College). After a short stay in Oxford and Scotland -- where he was invited to read the Gifford Lectures at St. Andrews (fall 1939) -- he left Europe in 1940 and came to the United States, eventually securing a position at the Union Theological Seminary (New York). At the Seminary he became a colleague of the well-known Protestant theologians Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr. He left the Seminary in 1952, and taught at Temple University (Philadelphia) for several years as a professor emeritus.

In 1974 Richard Kroner was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, one of the highest awards the German State accords. In that same year he died at the age of 90 in the nursing home Schloss Mammern (near the Bodensee, Switzerland).

In 1990 Walter Asmus, professor of pedagogy and a former student of Richard Kroner’s, published a comprehensive biography of Richard Kroner, which can be found in the library of the Leo Baeck Institute.

  • March 8, 1884: Born in Breslau, Germany
  • 1902: Attended University of Breslau
  • 1903 - 1905 : University of Heidelberg
  • 1906 - 1908 : University of Freiburg
  • 1908: Received PhD, University of Freiburg
  • 1909: Foundation of philosophical magazine Logos
  • 1912: Habilitation
  • 1919: Associate Professor, University of Freiburg
  • 1924 - 1928 : Professor, University of Dresden
  • 1929 - 1934 : Professor, University of Kiel
  • 1934: Professor, University of Frankfurt
  • 1935: Zwangsemeritierung
  • 1938: Emigration to England
  • 1939: Gifford Lectures, St. Andrews (Scotland)
  • 1941 - 1952 : Union Theological Seminary, New York City
  • 1952 - 1952 ? : Professor Emeritus, Temple University, Philadelphia
  • 1957: 50th Anniversary of Degree of Doctor, University of Freiburg
  • 1974: Universitäts-Medaille, University of Kiel; Bundesverdienstkreuz
  • November 2, 1974: Death of Richard J. Kroner
Oct 22 2014 new policy via email, do nothing. Selected Bibliography: Oct 22 2014 new policy via email, do nothing. A) Monographs:
  • 1908: Über logische und ästhetische Allgemeingültigkeit (PhD thesis)
  • 1913: Zweck und Gesetz in der Biologie (Habilitationsschrift)
  • 1914: Kants Weltanschauung
  • 1920: Der Soziale und nationale Gedanke bei Fichte
  • 1921: Von Kant bis Hegel (first volume)
  • 1924: Von Kant bis Hegel (second volume)
  • 1928: Die Selbstverwirklichung des Geistes: Prolegomena zur Kulturphilosophie
  • 1930: Idee und Wirklichkeit des Staates
  • 1931: Kulturphilosophische Grundlegung der Politik
  • 1941: The Religious Function of Imagination
  • 1943: How do we know God?
  • 1943: The Primacy of Faith
  • 1948: Hegel's Early Theological Writings
  • 1951: Culture and Faith
  • 1956: Speculation in Pre-Christian-Philosophy
  • 1958: Selbstbesinnung: Drei Lehrstunden
  • 1959: Speculation and Revelation in the Age of Christian Philosophy
  • 1961: Speculation and Revelation in Modern Philosophy
  • 1961: Von Kant bis Hegel (complete edition)
  • 1966: Between Faith and Thought
  • 1969: Freiheit and Gnade
  • 1977: Von Kant bis Hegel (two-volume-edition)
B) Essays
  • 1953: Lebendige Vernünftigkeit: Grundzüge des philosophisch-theologischen Denkens in Amerika
  • 1954: Kierkegaards Hegelverständnis
  • 1956: Heideggers Privatreligion
  • 1960: Vom Sinn der Geschichte (Festschrift Theodor Litt)
  • 1961: Hegel heute
  • 1963: Zur Problematik der Hegelschen Dialektik: Bemerkungen im Anschluss an eine Schrift von W. Flach
  • 1964: Zur Eröffnung der Heidelberger Hegel-Tage

(Bibliography taken from: Asmus, Walter: Richard Kroner, 1884-1974: ein christlicher Philosoph jüdischer Herkunft unter dem Schatten Hitlers. 2. überarb. und erg. Aufl. Frankfurt am Main; New York 1993, pp. 189-190).

Alice Kroner was born in Breslau in 1885. She was the first of two daughters of textile-engineer Max Kauffmann and his wife Luise Kauffmann née Helfft (1863-1942) -- her younger sister Cläre was born in 1887 and committed suicide in 1942 before her deportation to a concentration camp. Her father, Max Kauffmann, was the son of the most prominent leader of the Silesian textile industry Salomon Kauffmann (1824-1900). The Kauffmanns, together with other families of assimilated and liberal Jews such as the Habers, Borns, Mugdans, and Pringsheims, were one the most influential families of Breslau around the turn of the century. Their mansion in Breslau-Kleinburg appears to have served as a cultural gathering center for the bourgeoisie during those years. For example, there were concerts, poetry readings, and dancing lessons for the young. During one of those lessons Alice Kauffmann met Richard Kroner. They became engaged, and got married in 1908. One year later, in 1909, their only daughter Gerda was born. After the Zwangsemeritierung of her husband Richard Kroner in 1935, the Kroners took refuge first in England and Scotland, and then came to the United States in the early 1940s. Throughout her life, Alice was very devoted to the arts, particularly music, and enjoyed writing poetry herself.

She passed away at the age of 83 in St. Gallen (Switzerland), on February 24, 1968 after being ill for many years.

Rudolf Seligsohn was born in Berlin on December 31, 1909. He was the second of four sons of the lumber-merchant Albert Seligsohn and his wife Lisbeth Seligsohn née Eger, who died when Rudolf was 21 years old. His grandfather Salomon Seligsohn was a board member of the Jewish Community of Berlin, and another relative of his, Julius Seligsohn, was a board member of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden . On his mother's side Rudolf Seligsohn was related to Akiba Eger (1761-1837), the well-known rabbi of Posen (now Poznan, Poland).

In 1928 he passed the Abitur at the Grunewald-Gymnasium in Berlin, and began to study Classics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität . In 1934 he received a PhD in his field of study. In addition, Rudolf Seligsohn attended the Lehranstalt für die Wissenschaft des Judentums from May 1928 until 1934 to become a rabbi. There he met such highly esteemed teachers as Leo Baeck and Ismar Elbogen.

Having finished his rabbinical studies in 1934, Rudolf Seligsohn was invited to Bonn to become the rabbi of the Jewish Community there. One year later he married Gerda Kroner. In addition to his position as rabbi, Rudolf Seligsohn began to teach Latin, history, and geography part-time at the Jawne (Jewish High School) in Cologne. After the decision was made to "relocate" the Jawne to England due to the pogroms of November 10, 1938, Rudolf arranged and participated in the first transport, in January 1939. However, in the same year, he joined the Pioneer Corps of the Royal Army, where he was quickly promoted, first to corporal, then to sergeant and fought against the Germans.

In 1943 his only child, Elizabeth, was born. That same year Rudolf Seligsohn died at the age of 34 in Stratford-on-Avon due to meningitis.

Gerda M. Seligohn was born on March 23, 1909 in Freiburg as the daughter of Richard and Alice Kroner. After attending the Gymnasium (Grammar School) from 1919 until 1926 ( Abitur in 1926), she studied Classics, French, and Pedagogy at the Universities of Heidelberg, Kiel, and Goettingen. From 1930-1932 she studied in Berlin, where she eventually completed her studies, taking the state exams with the well-known Classicist Werner Jäger. Two years later, in 1935, she married rabbi Rudolf Seligsohn, and in 1943 her only daughter Elizabeth was born.

After her emigration with her husband to England in 1939, Gerda Seligsohn continue her studies at the Birkbeck College in London, where she received her B.A. in 1945. In 1947 she came to the United States to start her successful teaching career. From 1947 to 1948 she taught at the Brearley School in New York. From there she went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor specifically to give classes in Latin, and to focus her research on Latin didactics.

Gerda Seligsohn passed away in June 2002 in Ann Arbor.

From the guide to the Seligsohn Kroner Family Collection, 1850-1990, bulk 1935-1974, (Leo Baeck Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Paul Ramsey Papers, 1934-1984 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Seligsohn Kroner Family Collection, 1850-1990, bulk 1935-1974 Leo Baeck Institute.
referencedIn Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars. Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars records. 1927-1949. New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars corporateBody
associatedWith Kroner, Alice person
associatedWith Kroner family family
correspondedWith Ramsey, Paul person
associatedWith Seligsohn family family
associatedWith Seligsohn, Gerda person
associatedWith Seligsohn, Rudolf person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Bonn (Germany)
Surrey (England)
Berlin (Germany)
Chaplains, Military




Ark ID: w63s3njv

SNAC ID: 68681340