Professor Gerhard Hess

DFG President from 1955 to 1964

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Hess

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Hess

Gerhard Hess was born in Lörrach on 13 April 1907. He studied Romance languages and literatures at Basle, Heidelberg and Berlin, and gained his doctorate at the University of Berlin in 1931. After working as a research assistant, he received his habilitation (venia legendi) in Romance philology in 1938.

From 1940-41 he worked as a research assistant at the Leibniz Commission of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, then taught at the University of Heidelberg, initially as a reader, from 1946 as a professor, and from 1948 as Full Professor of Romance Philology. He died in Constance on 30 June 1983 at the age of 76.

Positions, Memberships and Distinctions

  • 1950-1951 Rector of the University of Heidelberg
  • 1950-1951 President of the Association of Universities and Other Higher Education Institutions in West Germany (Westdeutsche Rektorenkonferenz)
  • 1955-1964 President of the DFG
  • 1964 Chairman of the Founding Committee of the University of Constance
  • 1966-1972 Rector of the University of Constance


  • Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (since 1950)
  • Honorary Senator of the University of Freiburg/Br. (1957)


Officier de la Légion d'Honneur (1961), Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern) (1964), honorary citizen of the City of Constance (1972)

Dr.-Ing. E.H. from the Technical University of Berlin

Major Research Fields and Publications

Romance languages and literatures, especially history of French literature and philosophy

Major Publications

  • Alain (Emile Chartier) in der Reihe der französischen Moralisten (1932)
  • Die französische Philosophie der Gegenwart (1933)
  • Pierre Gassend. Der französische Späthumanismus und das Problem von Wissen und Glauben (1939)
  • Die Landschaft in Baudelaires "Fleurs du Mal" (1953)
  • Zur Entstehung der "Maximen" La Roche Foucaulds (1957)
  • Eine Freundesgabe der Wissenschaft für Ernst Hellmut Vits (ed. 1964)
  • Übersetzungen von La Bruyère, "Die Charaktere" (1949)
  • Leibniz korrespondiert mit Paris (1940)
  • Madame de la Fayette, "Die Prinzessin von Clèves" (1946)
  • Gesellschaft, Literatur, Wissenschaft (1967) [Collected works to mark Hess' 60th birthday]
  • Zukunft der Universität - Zukunft der Jugend (1973)
  • Die Universität Konstanz 1966-1972 (1973)