The Library of Bernhard Schwenke, Country Parson in Eastern Thuringia (1816-1885)

Collection Notes

Bernhard Schwenke, born in 1816, was the pastor of the Protestant parish of Langendembach from 1839 until his death in 1885. In this position he succeded his father Traugott Friedrich Schwenke (1772-1839) and his grandfather Johann Gottlieb Schwenke (1726-1798). A plaque in the Langendembach church commemorates the consecutive services of the "Geschlecht Schwenke" (Schwenke family) over a period of 122 years.

The village of Langendembach is located in the eastern part of Thuringia, about 20 miles south of Jena and 35 miles south-east of Weimar. During the period of service by the three Schwenke pastors it was part of the Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach. The village population at Bernhard Schwenke's time numbered around four hundred.

All the books in the attached inventory were in the possession of Bernhard Schwenke when he died. Most likely those published before he took office in 1839 had belonged to his father or to his grandfather.

After Bernhard Schwenke's death, his library was moved from the parsonage to a neighboring house owned by the Schwenke family. The house had been built by Wilhelmine Schwenke, sister of Berhard's father, after she had served for almost fifty years as a maid, later a companion, to Caroline von Wolzogen, the esteemed writer.

Some of Bernhard Schwenke's books may have been removed by his son, Paul Schwenke, for his studies in classical philology. Most likely they became part of the latter's personal library, acquired after his death by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, where he served as a director. With the exception of the books Paul Schwenke may have removed, the library remained in Langendembach, together with the papers of Caroline von Wolzogen.

After the division of Germany in 1945, Langendembach was part of the Russian occupation zone, which later became the German Democratic Republic. Adjusting to the new political circumstances, the Schwenke family had to give up ownership of the house. Whatever books could be transported to Western Germany, and later to the United States, are listed in the inventory. No information is available on any books that may have been lost in Langendembach or in the process of moving them to the West.

Some information about the Schwenke family and the relation of Wilhelmine Schwenke to Caroline von Wolzogen is given in the attached paper "Paul Schwenke zwischen Amt und Zuhause", published in the journal Bibliothek und Wissenschaft. On page 13 of the paper, a picture of both the parsonage and the house of the Schwenke family is reproduced.

Many of the books listed in the inventory have handwritten marks "Schwenke" or "B. Schwenke," indicating ownership by Bernhard Schwenke.

A few books, marked "Nöthlich", originate from the estate of Ernst Gottlieb Nöthlich, pastor in the neighboring village of Grosskamsdorf. He was the father of Bernhard Schwenke's mother, Amalie Sophie née Nöthlich.

Other marks of ownership relate to:

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