Wilhelm Schmidt

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Schmidt, Wilhelm


Born Feb. 16, 1868, in Hörde; died Feb. 10,1954, in Fribourg, Switzerland. Austrian ethnologist and linguist; head of the Vienna school of cultural history. Catholic priest.

Schmidt was a professor at the University of Vienna from 1921 to 1938 and became a professor at the University of Fribourg in 1939. He was a specialist in the languages of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Australia and their comparative study and classification. In his work The Origin of the Idea of God (vols. 1–12, 1912–52), he used his vast ethnological erudition to substantiate the theological theory of primitive divine revelation and the consequent theory of primeval monotheism.

Despite the erroneousness of his main views, the extensive material that Schmidt collected on primitive beliefs and especially on languages has considerable scholarly value. In 1906, Schmidt founded the journal Anthropos; initially containing ethnological reports by missionaries of his order, it later became an international scholarly organ.


Tokarev, S. A. “Venskaia shkola etnografii.” Vestnik istorii mirovoi kul’tury, 1958, no. 3.
Bornemann, F. “Verzeichnis der Schriften von P. V. Schmidt.” Anthropos, vol. 49,1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Wilhelm Schmidt and three of his fellow Divine Word priests, the institute, located in Germany, serves as a clearinghouse for social scientific research on anthropology and religion, primarily through the publication of the academic journal Anthropos.
(Compare with Wilhelm Schmidt, Der Ursprung der Gottesidee, on this point.)
Perhaps the most well-known anthropologist of his day was Wilhelm Schmidt, who held the chair of ethnology at the University of Vienna.
"The verdict makes clear that the very fact of holding slush funds constitutes the crime of breach of trust," said Federal Prosecutor Wilhelm Schmidt, adding that Munich prosecutors investigating Siemens would seize on the ruling.
However, while there are plenty of histories of German available in German (most recently: Wilhelm Schmidt's ninth edition of his Geschichte der deutschen Sprache (Stuttgart: Hirzel, 2004), and for the first time Peter Ernst's Deutsche Sprachgeschichte (Munich: UTB, 2004) and Gudrun Brundin's Kleine deutsche Sprachgeschichte (Munich: UTB, 2004)), which all act as sensibly sized alternatives to Peter von Polenz's monumental Deutsche Sprachgeschichte in three volumes (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1994-2000), there are none available in English.