> Person > Biography


Karl Heinrich Leopold Deschner was born on May 23, 1924, in Bamberg, Germany. His father Karl, forester and fish farmer, Roman Catholic, grew up in extreme poverty. His mother, Margareta Karoline, née Reischböck, Protestant, grew up on the estates of her father in Franconia and Lower Baveria. She converted later to Catholicism.

Karlheinz Deschner, the eldest of three children, attended elementary school in Trossenfurt (Steigerwald) from 1929 to 1933. Afterwards he attended the Franciscan Seminary in Dettelbach am Main. There he first lived with the family of his godfather and sponsor, the clerical councilor Leopold Baumann, afterward in the Franciscan monastery. From 1934 to 1942 he attended the Alte, Neue and Deutsche Gymnasium as a boarding school student with the Carmelite and English Sisters. In 1942 he passed his final exams. Like the rest of his entire class he reported immediately as a military volunteer and was wounded several times. He served as a soldier until the capitulation, in the final stages as a paratrooper.

Initially matriculated as a major in Forestry in the University of Munich, Deschner attended lectures on Law, Theology, Philosophy and Psychology during 1946/47 at the Philosophical-Theological College in Bamberg. From 1947 to 1951 at the University of Würzburg he studied Contemporary German Literature, Philosophy and History and graduated in 1951 with a doctoral dissertation entitled "Lenau's Lyrics As an Expression of Metaphysical Despair." In the same year he married Elfi Tuch. They had three children: Katja (1951), Bärbel (1958) and Thomas (1959 to 1984).

From 1924 to 1964 Deschner resided in a former hunting lodge of the prince-bishops of Tretzendorf (Steigerwald), then for two years in the country house of a friend in Fischbrunn (Hersbrucker Schweiz). Since then he has resided in Hassfurt am Main.

Karlheinz Deschner has published novels, literary criticism, essays, aphorisms, and above all critical history of religion and the Church. He has enthralled and provoked his audiences over the years with more than 2,000 public lectures.

In 1971 he was called before a court in Nuremberg, charged with "insulting the Church."

Deschner has been working on his ambitious Christianity's Criminal History since 1970. Since disquieting spirits like Deschner are unlikely to find support from research grants, honoraria, stipends, emoluments and official positions, it is only the generous support of a few friends and readers that have enabled him to devote the time required for this enormous task of research and writing. His generous friend and patron Alfred Schwarz was able to celebrate the appearance of Volume 1 in September, 1986, but did not live to see Volume 2 reach publication. The German industrialist Herbert Steffen has continued to support Deschner's work.

During the summer semester of 1987 Deschner taught a course entitled "Criminal History of Christianity" at the University of Münster.

As recognition for his literary work and his efforts to combat ignorance, Karlheinz Deschner was awarded the Arno Schmidt Prize in 1988, succeeding Wolfgang Koeppen, Hans Wollschläger and Peter Rühmkorf. In June of 1993 he followed Walter Jens, Dieter Hildebrandt, Gerhard Zwerenz and Robert Jungk in winning the Alternative Büchner Prize and in July of 1993, following Andrei Sacharow and Alexander Dubcek, he was the first German to be recognized with the International Humanist Award. In the fall of 2001 he received the Erwin Fischer Prize, and in November of that year the Ludwig Feuerbach Prize as well.

In 2013 Karlheinz Deschner finished his Christianity's Criminal History. He died on April 8th 2014 at the age of 89 in his hometown Haßfurt.



Karlheinz Deschner


Copyright by Paul Swiridoff, Schwäbisch Hall

related topics:
- Biography
- Honors
- Quotes





<< back




This page was last updated on 11/1/14 - subject to alterations -