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Fritz Funke (1920–2018) – In memoriam

Dr. Fritz Funke, long-term director of the German Museum of Books and Writing, died on 25 January 2018 at the age of 97.

After serving on the eastern front and being subsequently interned in the Soviet Union, Fritz Funke completed his doctorate on the subject of "The repre-sentation of love in Schiller's dramas" before joining the German Museum of Books and Writing at the Deutsche Bücherei in 1950 as a research associate. The Museum was almost completely destroyed in the war. In 1950 it was incorporated into the Deutsche Bücherei (now part of the German National Library), and Funke was thus involved in reconstructing the collections from the outset. In 1955 he became the director of the Museum, using his tenure to enhance its renown not only as a documentation centre for book culture, but also as a reliable partner at the international book art exhibitions. For more than a decade he also campaigned – unfortunately in vain – for the return of the Book Museum's treasures, which had been removed by the Soviet occupying power in 1945.

His "Buchkunde" became a standard work: released in 1959 as a textbook for the upcoming generation of academically trained librarians, the publication went through numerous editions and translations. In 1984, one year before leaving his post as museum director, Fritz Funke was able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the world's oldest book museum by staging an international symposium.

He held a lifelong passion for poetry and painting. He produced artistic works himself into old age. Anyone who had the pleasure of conversing with him about art will remember his keen powers of observation and his sound judgement. Modest to the last, he was the embodiment of kindness. He spent the last few years of his life together with his wife in a retirement home. Now, less than two years after her death, he has followed his wife.

We will treasure our memories of him as a gentle, melancholy and extremely clever person who, as director of the German Museum of Books and Writing for almost 30 years, left a lasting mark on the institution.

Last update: 29.3.2018

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