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Gerke, Friedrich

    Full Name: Gerke, Friedrich

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 15 November 1900

    Date Died: 23 August 1966

    Place Born: Uelzen, Lower Saxony, Germany

    Place Died: Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Classical


    Theologian and later art historian in Universität Mainz.  Gerke studied at the universities of Hamburg, Marburg and Berlin between 1924 and 1928, focusing on theology, art history and archaeology.  He published a qualifying thesis on the writing of Pope Clement I in 1931, Die Stellung des ersten Clemensbriefes innerhalb der Entwicklung der altchristlichen Gemeindeverfassung und des Kirchenrechts, granting his Ph.D from Berlin.  Gerke’s habilitation was granted in 1934, also by Universität Berlin, “Die ein- und zweizonigen Reihensarkophage der Tetrarchenzeit.”  After only a year as a privatdozent, he was appointed Außerordentlicher Professor in Berlin in 1935 and as director of the  Institut für Christliche Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte at the same time.  Between the years 1940 and 1942 he was a visiting lecturer in Budapest.  As World War II waged on, the Nazi government formed the infamous Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a civilian and military unit to identify important works of art and loot them for Reich officials and planned German museum.  Gerke worked as a researcher for two months in the Occupied Territories division of the ERR, under the notorious Hans Reinerth in the Crimean.  He fought as a solidier between 1943 and 1945 in Greece and the Dolomites.  After the War, Gerke founded the Association for Fine Arts in Mainz (Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst Mainz) in 1947.  He was appointed Ordentlicher Professor, at the University of Mainz, (Universität Mainz) and director of the University’s Kunstgeschichtliches Institut,  He was named a member of the  Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in 1949.  He was instrumental in sheparding several book collections to the Mainz Institute of Art History.  He retired in 1966.  The following year, his Spätantike und frühes Christentum appeared.

     His students included Elisabeth Alföldi Rosenbaum.

    Selected Bibliography

    • [dissertation:] Die Stellung des ersten Clemensbriefes innerhalb der Entwicklung der altchristlichen Gemeindeverfassung und des Kirchenrechts, Berlin, 1931, published, Leipzig, Hinrichs, 1931.
    • Spätantike und frühes Christentum.   Kunst der Welt vol. 2. (Die Kulturen des Abendlandes). Baden-Baden: Holle, 1967


    “Friedrich Gerke.” Verzeichnis der Professorinnen und Professoren der Universität Mainz 1477-1973.  Guten Biogragraphics. (accessed 1/30/2023.


    • Friedrich Gerke, Universitätsarchiv der Humboldt-Universität Berlin
    • Friedrich Gerke, Universitätsarchiv Mainz, NL 51

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Gerke, Friedrich." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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