Herbert Eulenberg

Biographical information

Full nameMax Herbert•Eulenberg
Used nameHerbert•Eulenberg
Born25 January 1876 in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Nordrhein-Westfalen (GER)
Died4 September 1949 in Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen (GER)
NOC Germany


The lyricist, narrator, and master of biographical sketches Herbert Eulenberg was one of the most widely read authors of his time. He was particularly successful as a neo-Romantic playwright.

Eulenberg studied law in Berlin, Munich, Leipzig, and Bonn, but always considered himself a poet. His first play was written in 1898 while he was still in Munich. After receiving a Ph.D., he completed his legal clerkship. His tragedy Leidenschaft (Passion) earned him a position as a dramaturge at the “Berliner Theater” in 1903. He was then engaged at the newly founded “Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus”, which opened with Eulenberg’s prologue in October 1905. He remained there until 1909, when he began life as a freelance writer in Kaiserwerth, now part of Düsseldorf.

In 1904, Eulenberg married his wife Hedda (1876-1960), already an acknowledged translator of French and Anglo-Saxon literature. The centerpiece of his efforts was undoubtedly his Schattenbilder (Shadow Pictures) of 1910, his essayistic biographical sketches of personalities from cultural history. Although he was a productive and varied author of stories, novels, poems, essays, and polemic writings, he never achieved resounding success, in both the ideal and material sense.

Nevertheless, he became a model of literary and artistic lifestyle. His fame by far exceeded the literary impact. At least since 1910, he was a member of the “German Monist League”, an association of libertines who opposed Christian dogmatic beliefs. Pacifism and Internationalism also influenced his views and he exchanged letters with Nobel Peace Prize winner Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914).

World War I deeply shocked the pacifist Eulenberg. It was a satisfaction for him to be the first German after Albert Einstein (1879-1955) to be allowed to speak at Columbia University in 1923. In addition to the lecture tour to the United States, he travelled to North Africa and Palestine. In 1919, he co-founded the group of artists “Das Junge Rheinland”. Among his many acquaintances in literature, art, and music were all the greats of the time.

During the time of the “Third Reich”, Eulenberg was ostracized but he did not bow to the pressure. It was probably only because of his high profile that he was spared a concentration camp. However, he was able to publish in local newspapers under pseudonyms. After World War II, he received many awards and honors including the honorary citizen of the city of Düsseldorf and the Heine award from Hamburg as well as the National Prize in the GDR. He died from injuries from post-war debris and his work eventually fell into oblivion. His wife Hedda set a memorial to him with the volume Im Doppelglück von Kunst und Leben (In the Double Happiness of Art and Life).


Games Sport (Discipline) / Event NOC / Team Phase Unit Role As
1928 Summer Olympics Art Competitions GER Herbert Eulenberg
Literature, Dramatic Works, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge
Literature, Epic Works, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge
Literature, Lyric Works, Open (Olympic) Final Standings Judge