The couple Dr. jur. Heinrich and Olga Spiero with their dog "Troll". The picture was taken 1928/29 in Berlin. Photo: private

In 2017 a loose bookplate of Heinrich and Olga Spiero could be returned.

Heinrich Spiero was born on 24 March 1876 in Königsberg and died on 8 March 1947 in Berlin. His wife Olga, née Jalowicz, was born on 9 July 1877 in Wroclaw and lived in Berlin until the end of her life on 14 November 1960.  They survived the time of Nazi persecution under difficult conditions and narrowly escaped their imminent deportation. The couple had four children.

Heinrich Spiero came from a Jewish merchant family and was baptized in the Protestant Church. He studied German, law and history at the universities of Berlin, Freiburg and Lyon and received his doctorate of law in Leipzig in 1897. After completing his legal training, Heinrich Spiero moved to Hamburg in 1901, where he earned his living as a senior salesman in a large trading office. At the same time, he taught modern literary history in Hamburg, gave lectures throughout Europe and was invited by the Germanistic Society of America to a lecture tour in the United States. During the First World War, he was a department head in the Prussian War Ministry.

After the end of the war, he devoted himself exclusively to literary studies and his literary interests in Berlin. Among other things, Spiero wrote reviews for the Vossische Zeitung, monographs on Theodor Fontane, Gerhard Hauptmann, and was editor of the novels of Gustav Freytag as well as the Raabe and Jedermann encyclopaedia. He was a founder of the Hamburg Art Society, and a member of many important associations, such as the board of the Raabe Society and the board of the the German Germanists Society. Spiero was one of the leading literary historians of his time. The University of Göttingen awarded him a Dr. phil. h.c. in 1931.

Because of his Jewish heritage, Heinrich Spiero was arrested several times and banned from writing and publishing. In 1937 he was forced to resign from the chairmanship of the Reich Association of Christian-German citizens of non-Aryan or non-pure Aryan descent (from 1936 onwards Paulus-Bund), which he had co-initiated, due to his classification as a so-called "Volljude". Nevertheless, he succeeded in setting up a help centre for Christians of Jewish heritage, the Büro Heinrich Spiero. The organization was banned in 1939.

In spring of 1943 Olga and Heinrich Spiero were only able to escape their imminent deportation through the efforts of their non-Jewish son-in-law.It is a loose ex-libris. The erased inscription on the bookplate could refer to a shelf mark and thus the book to which it belonged, but research to find a copy in the ZLB's collection has not been successful. The access route is therefore not yet traceable.

Additional information

  • Heinrich Spiero auf Wikipedia
  • Rohr, Anna: Dr. Heinrich Spiero (1876–1947). Sein Wirken für die Christen jüdischer Herkunft unter dem NS-Regime. Berlin: Metropol Verl., 2015.

The restituted objects at