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 Einstein and the Poet - In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns -  cover
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To My Neighbor

I lift you higher,
lift you out
of your body cells
stuffed with anxiety
of your past -
an evil load that smells.

I'll fill each cell
with love and joy
that makes the
angels dance.
You'll glide through earthly
filth and stench -
a spiritual trance.

From your youth filled eyes,
your hands
and feet,
a holy peace shall flow,
so you and I
be filled with grace -
let us be still
and know.

William Hermanns


Seelentränen sind Gedichte,
rot mit Herzblut aufgeschrieben,
tiefem Menschenleid zum Ruhm,

Lies sie still in reinem Lichte,
frei von Trieben:
Du betrittst ein Heiligtum.

Wilhelm Hermanns

William Hermanns


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William Hermanns

Biographical Summary

All of William Hermanns works include his life experiences.  See the List of Writings for specific periods of his life.

Childhood PDF Short Bio Encounters

The Vow  Weimar Republic  Rise of Nazis  Exile  Teaching  Writing  Recognition

The Vow

William Hermanns (1895-1990) was one of the best personally informed authorities of the events in Germany from World War I through the Hitler era. In 1895 Wilhelm was born in Koblenz, Rhineland, Germany. He was orphaned at the age of 10 and raised by his aunt in a village by Mönchengladbach, Germany close to the Dutch border. In 1914 he enthusiastically enlisted as a nineteen-year-old volunteer in the Kaiser's army. He became one of the longest living survivors of the Battle of Verdun, where a million young German and French soldiers lost their lives. His book The Holocaust - from a Survivor of Verdun (Harper & Row, NY 1972) recounts some of his memorable war experiences to trace the path of discovering his conscience and spiritual guidance in the midst of what he called “the raging mass mind.” He made a vow on the battlefield of Verdun, for which he was quite concerned to fulfill before his death: God, save me and I will serve you the rest of my life!

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Sociologist, Poet, Playwrite

in Weimar Republic

Following Hermanns’ return from forty months in French captivity in 1920, he became Secretary of the Prisoner of War Association and met Einstein in international peace meetings.  He resumed his studies at the Universities of Berlin , Munich and Frankfurt, and, in 1926 under the tutelage of Franz Oppenheimer, received his doctorate in Sociology.  While awaiting a promised post to open in the League of Nations, he was active in the League for Human Rights, in the Walter Rathenau Society, and in the Alexander von Humboldt Club, with the goal of creating a united Europe. At this time, he also gained a literary reputation with his poetry and educational plays written for Berlin Radio.

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The Rise of the Nazis in Germany

Dr. Hermanns’ broadcast "Genius and Tenacity," about his conversation with Einstein in March 1930, made him suspect with the ever more popular Nazi Party. After Hitler came in power, Hermanns' anti-war poetry were seized and thrown onto the house-high auto de fé of books before the University of Berlin on May 10, 1933. He witnessed Goebbels shouting his “Inquisition” speech as the students in brown uniforms marched and sang around the burning books.

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Fleeing Germany, Exile and New Homeland

In January 1934 Dr. Hermanns fled Germany, and as a refugee in Lisbon, Paris, London and Capetown, taught languages and literature. In 1937 he was allowed entrance into the United States and worked at first in the New York Institute for the Blind, and then, thanks to his article "The Principles of Teaching" published in the journal Education in September 1939, was invited by Prof. Sorokin to lecture and research at Harvard University. During the Second World War, he worked in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, DC, in the rank of a captain. In 1945 upon hearing of the death of his sister and niece, 35 other relatives and over 200 friends in Nazi concentration camps, he moved to California to retreat from the world as a night watchman in a Christian Science sanatorium.

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Teaching and Writing

Through his contemplation and academic acquaintances, especially his friendly relationship with Einstein (described in Einstein and the Poet - In Search of the Cosmic Man , he decided to continue with his mission of teaching the importance of the conscience’s guidance, inclusive cosmic religious feelings and the World Youth Friendship Parliament. In 1946 he was appointed Professor of German Language and Literature at San Jose State College (now University) to serve until 1965, when he became emeritus professor.   He has recounted many of the stories of students in his unpublished manuscript Rape of Souls.  In 1972 he published his book The Holocaust - from a Survivor of Verdun with Harper and Row.  From 1973-1984 he was a Visiting Scholar in the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

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All the While Poetry and Publications

Hermanns' other published works include: Passion & Compassion (1948); Mary and the Mocker (Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN, 1953; Die Feder stockt (pre-published excerpt from Seelenhunger - Erlebnisse und Gedichte. Verlag Rudolf Riethausen, Hanau, 1983). He has numerous English and German unpublished manuscripts and poems. In 1977 President Walter Scheel of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded him lifelong help from the Presidential German Artist Aid Fund.

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Recognition and Fulfillment of Vow

In 1983 William Hermann's book Einstein and the Poet - In Search of the Cosmic Man was published by Branden Press.  That same year the Einstein-Hermanns Foundation was incorporated by William Hermanns, Kenneth Norton and Ulf  Sjödin  to foster reliance on intuition for intercultural exchange and understanding. Through grassroots efforts the World Youth Friendship Parliament was inaugurated on July 1, 1988 at the seaside Villa Muramaris on the Swedish island Gotland in the Baltic Sea. In September 1989 the Mayor of Mönchengladbach honored him for his life’s dedication to reconciliation between Jews and Christians at a city-sponsored reunion of its citizens who fled the Nazis, and on the following day the Mayor of Verdun awarded him the Verdun Medal of Honor for his dedication to the reconciliation between the French and Germans.

This is just brief glimpse of his life, as he met many notable people, journeyed through a variety  of religious traditions as a mystic and had the expansive poetical sensibilities that often quoted Heine who wrote of poets: Heaven high jubilating, to death sorrowing. 

William Hermanns transitioned 7 months later on April 6, 1990 in San Jose, California.     

Childhood PDF Short Bio Notable Encounters

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William Hermanns


Published Books

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 for it's webpage:

    Einstein and the Poet - In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns -  cover
Available at Amazon

Order Kindle e-book

Order Paperback


   The Holocaust - from a Survivor of Verdun by William Hermanns - cover
Inquire on out of print books



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Einstein and the Poet - In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns -  cover The Holocaust - from a Survivor of Verdun by William Hermanns - cover


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