Eugen Friedrich Moritz Rosenstock
was born in Berlin, Germany on July 6, 1888, to Theodor and Paula Rosenstock. His father, a scholarly man, was a banker and a member of the Berlin Stock Exchange. He was the only son among seven surviving children.
He joined the Lutheran Protestant Church at age 17 and remained a staunch believer all his life. Hs faith became central to his later work. In fact, it was fully integrated into his major lifetime works in law, philosophy, labor practices, education, the social sciences and social history, and voluntary work service.
After graduating from a secondary school (gymnasium) with very high academic standards and an emphasis on classical languages and literature, Rosenstock-Huessy pursued law studies at the universities of Zurich, Heidelberg, and Berlin. In 1909 the University of Heidelberg granted him a doctorate in law. In 1912 he became a Privatdozent, a preliminary qualification to becoming a professor, at the University of Leipzig, where he taught constitutional law and the history of law until 1914.
In 1914 Rosenstock-Huessy visited Florence, Italy to conduct historical research. There he met Margrit Hüssy, a Swiss art history major. They married later that year. World War I broke out shortly thereafter.
World War I
At the onset of World War I, the German Army drafted Rosenstock-Huessy and stationed him at Western Front, including 18 months at Verdun, until the war’s end. “During this period he organized courses for the troops, replacing the limited instruction in patriotism with broader topics. In 1916, he and his friend, the Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig, also on active duty, exchanged letters on Judaism and Christianity.” . That correspondence has become well known as a dialog between proponents of the two related religions. Despite his initial leanings towards Christianity, Franz Rosenzweig decided to live as an Orthodox Jew – and wrote the work Judaism Despite Christianity. which also contains much of the correspondence between the two.
After World War I, Rosenstock-Huessy became active in labor issues, focusing on improving education as a means to improve the societal standard of living. He returned to academia and started publishing his first noted works.
Rosenstock-Huessy did not return to his teaching post at the University of Leipzig. Instead, he obtained a position with Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (Daimler Motor Company), the German car manufacturer, in Stuttgart, Germany. In 1919, he founded and became the editor until 1921 of the first factory newspaper in Germany, the Daimler Werkzeitung (Work Newspaper).
In 1921, Rosenstock founded Die Akademie der Arbeit (the Academy of Labor) in Frankfurt/Main. “This institution offered courses and seminars for blue-collar workers, but he resigned in 1923 over differences with the trade union representatives. Nevertheless, he did not give up his involvement with adult education and his efforts to give industrial workers a voice of their own in society.” He co-founded the Patmos Verlag publishing house, which published works on “new religious, philosophical, and social perspectives.”
In 1923, Rosenstock-Huessy received a second doctorate in philosophy from the University of Heidelberg. He then lectured at the Technical University of Darmstadt in the faculty of social science and social history until he was offered a job at the University of Breslau as a full professor of German legal history, a position he held from 1923 until January 30, 1933.
During this period, Rosenstock-Huessy became active in many other ways at the University of Breslau. He helped organize voluntary work service camps—Löwenberger Arbeitslager (Löwenberg Work Camp)—for students, young farmers, and young workers to address the living and labor conditions at coal mines in Waldenburg, Lower Silesia.
Soon after January 30, 1933, when the National Socialists (Nazis) assumed power in Germany, Rosenstock-Huessy resigned from the University of Breslau and departed Germany that year. By the end of 1933, he received an appointment as Lecturer in German Art and Culture at Harvard University with the help of a professor of government there.
Rosenstock-Huessy encountered strong opposition at Harvard University to the presentation of his ideas in social history and other topics, all of which were based on his Christian faith. Reportedly, Rosenstock-Huessy frequently mentioned God in class. He also often attacked pure, objective academic thinking, a teaching tradition assumed by the Harvard faculty to be a prerequisite for high scholarship. These attacks grated on the secular beliefs of other Harvard faculty members. Profound differences of opinion ensued and led, in 1935, to his accepting an appointment as professor of social philosophy at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He made his home in nearby Norwich, Vermont. He taught at Dartmouth until his retirement in 1957.
Renewed labor education
In 1940 he presented a request to US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and was granted approval to organize a youth training program for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Dorothy Thompson were champions of the proposal. He then founded Camp William James in Tunbridge, Vermont as a prototype for a national peacetime volunteer labor service. “Involving mainly students from Dartmouth, Radcliffe, and Harvard, its purpose was to train young leaders to expand the 7-year-old CCC from a program for unemployed youth into a work service program that would accept volunteers from all walks of life.”, The entrance of the United States into World War II in 1941 ended this and all other CCC programs because men were needed in the armed services and women became a greater part of the workforce. This concept anticipated the Peace Corps by more than two decades.
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1935), “The Predicament of History”, Journal of Philosophy 32 (4): 93-100
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1973), Multiformity of Man, Norwich, Vermont: Argo Books,
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1978), The Fruit of Lips, or, Why Four Gospels?, Pittsburgh: The Pickwick Press,
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen; translation: Mark Huessy and Freya von Moltke (1978), Planetary Service. A Way into the Third Millennium, Norwich, Vermont: Argo Books,
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1981), The Origin of Speech, Norwich, Vermont: Argo Books,http://www.argobooks.org/english/the_origin_of_speech.html.
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen; Translation: Mark Huessy and Freya von Moltke (1988), Practical Knowledge of the Soul, Norwich, Vermont: Argo Books,
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1993), Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man (2 ed.), Providence and Oxford: Berg Publishers, Inc.,
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1981), The Origin of Speech, Norwich, Vermont: Argo Books,
- Epstein, Catherine (1986), “Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy: Studies in His Life and Thought”, in Bryant, M. Darrol; Huessy, Hans R, A Past Renewed: A Catalog of German-Speaking Refugee Historians in the United States after 1933, Lewiston, NY: Mellen, pp. 279
- Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen (1988), Gardner, Clinton C., ed., Life Lines: Quotations from the Work of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Norwich, Vermont: Argo Books
- The official web site of the Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Fund and Argo Books includes a biography, accessed 20 March 2007
- The Norwich Center, Norwich, Vermont, maintains an internet site devoted to an introductory biography and appreciation of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, signed by Clinton C. Gardner, President of the Norwich Center, accessed 20 March 2007
- Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Gesellschaft
- Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (German)