Carl Meinhof

Carl Friedrich Michael Meinhof ( born July 23, 1857 in Barzwitz at Rügenwalde in Pomerania, † February 11, 1944 in Greifswald, buried in the cemetery Ohlsdorfer in Hamburg) was a German pastor and Africanist.

Carl Meinhof was in 1909 in Hamburg holder of the first chair of African Studies in Germany. Meinhof had previously worked as a language teacher at the Department of Oriental Languages ​​at the University of Berlin. 1936 He retired with 79 years, and was succeeded by August Klingenheben.


Carl Meinhof was the son of the pastor and revival preacher Friedrich Meinhof (1800-1881) and his third wife Clara Christiane Giese Brecht ( 1819-1893 ). In 1886 he became a pastor in Zizow, a Pomeranian village near Rügenwalde. He occupied his free time with philological studies. By chance he got about a neighboring manor contact with African languages ​​: He should give a living there Duala - boy German lessons. He was from 1882 to 1894 married to Elly Heyer ( 1858-1894 ) and from 1895 until his death in 1944 with Anna Kloss ( 1866-1944 ). Meinhof had twelve children, three of whom died early. On 5 May 1933, Meinhof member of the NSDAP. In November 1933, he was one of the signatories of the commitment of the professors at German universities and colleges to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi state.

Scientific Work

Meinhof studied at the University of Greifswald and the University of Tübingen.

One of the most important works Meinhof was a comparative grammar of Bantu languages. He was one of the pioneers of systematic recording and exploration of African languages ​​and traditions. He took, for example, already in 1902 in Tanzania traditional African music with a phonograph on and also published collections of African tales.

Meinhof further developed the linguistic Hamit theory that represent the light-skinned North African peoples and their descendants a more highly developed within Africa " master race ". He tried in particular to show that the Bantu peoples had resulted from a merger of Hamitic and nichthamitischen African peoples. Also, are the " Hottentots " (today: Nama ) from a merger of Hamitic and "Bushmen" (now San ) emerged.


  • The Christianization of the languages ​​of Africa. Basel 1905
  • The languages ​​of the Hamites. Friederichsen, Hamburg 1912
  • A study trip to Kordofan, Friederichsen, Hamburg 1916
  • African tales. ( Ed. ) Carl Meinhof, Diederichs, Jena 1917
  • Outline of a comparative grammar of Bantu languages. Second completely revised edition. Eckhardt & Messtorff, Hamburg, 1948 ( posthumously )

Pictures of Carl Meinhof