Born Feb. 28, 1905, in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland); died Apr. 21, 1967, in Berlin. German linguist, ethnographer, and folklorist (German Democratic Republic; GDR). Academician of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin (1951); the academy’s vice-president from 1954 to 1963. Member of the Communist Party of Germany from 1927. Member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (1954–58).
Steinitz graduated from the University of Berlin in 1927. In 1934 he emigrated to the USSR, where he was a professor at the Leningrad Institute of the Peoples of the North from 1934 to 1937. He taught at the universities of Tartu and Stockholm from 1938 to 1945. In 1945 he returned to Germany (GDR), where in 1946 he became a professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He served as director of the Institute of Finno-Ugric Studies and in 1953 became director of the Institute of Ethnography of the German Academy of Sciences.
In his principal works Steinitz dealt with Finno-Ugric linguistics and the history, daily life, and folklore of the Finno-Ugrian peoples; he traced the history of the sound system of the Finno-Ugric languages. He also conducted research on Russian and modern German. Steinitz wrote a textbook on the Russian language (1945) and a work on German democratic songs.
WORKSDer Parallelismus in der finnisch-karelischen Volksdichtung: Untersucht an den Liedern des karelischen Sängers Arhippa Pertunen. Helsinki, 1934.
Ostjakische Volksdichtung und Erzählungen aus zwei Dialekten, vols. 1–2. Tartu-Stockholm, 1939–41.
“Geschichte des finnisch-ugrischen Konsonantismus.” Acta Instituti Hungarica Universitatis Holmiensis, series B: Linguistica, 1, 1952.
Geschichte des finnisch-ugrischen Vokalismus, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1964.
Dialektologisches und etymologisches Wörterbuch der ostjakischen Sprache, fascs. 1–7. Berlin, 1966–75.
REFERENCESPomerantseva, E. V., and L. N. Terent’ev, “Wo’fgang Shteinits” (obituary). Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1967, no. 4.
Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft Volkskunde und Literaturforschung: Zum 60 Geburtstag von W. Steinitz. Berlin, 1965. (Contains bibliography).
Etnografisch-archäologische Zeitschrift, vol. 9, 1968, pp. 197–218.
R. A. AGEEVA