German Version - Obituary
September 21st 1930 - Bernhard Duhr SJ
† in Munich
Bernhard was born on August 2nd 1852 in Cologne. His father William Heinrich was tax accountant. His mother Helena was extraordinary pious, and charitable to the poor and distressed. This her quality communicated itself to the whole family.
On October 8th 1872 Bernhard began on the Frederic Castle in Münster (Westphalia) the Noviciate of the Society of Jesus under Father Meschler as Magister. Due to the Kulturkampf the Jesuits had soon to leave Germany. At the end of November 1872 the novices travelled to Holland. The philosophical studies followed in Exaten and Blyenbeck, the theological ones in Ditton Hall in England. Those studies were 1880-83 broken by the years of Interstice in Feldkirch and Ordrupshoj (Denmark). He was ordained priest in Liverpool on December 18th 1887.
Greater archives journeys led him to Italy, France, Vienna, and Spain. Since 1903 Munich was assigned to him as constant domicile. There he found also more than elsewhere in Germany materials for his work. For full eighteen years he lived in the Vincentinum, until he moved on July 1st 1921 into the Ignatius House Kaulbach Street, in the neighbourhood of university and English Garden. There he lived up to his death on September 21st 1930.
Already in his early youth his sense for writing had been waked - as he told frequently. He collected books, booklets, newspaper articles, and the like. He has kept also since 1883 the entire exchange of letters, among them his correspondence with scholarly Brethren, like the Fathers Sommervogel, Braunsberger, Grisar, Nolde and others.
On his journeys to archives and libraries he discovered and collected unbelievably much material. A particularly good memory remained his research of several years in the Viennese Public Record Office, since he had experienced much hospitality there.
His many articles and writings show his sober and matter-of-fact style. They have not the splendour of rhetorical perfection. With controlled diligence he worked up the collected documents. For linguistic elegance and brilliance you will look in vain with Duhr.
In the year 1891 the first edition of the "Jesuitenfabeln" appeared. Already after one year that lasting raid against the world of prejudices was reprinted. The third edition took place in 1899 and in 1904 the fourth one.
In the year 1907 the first volume of his "History of the Jesuits in the Countries of German Tongue" appeared. The first volume treats the history of the Jesuits from the foundation of the Order up to 1600. The second volume in 1913 describes the first half of the seventeenth century. In 1921 followed the third volume about the years 1650 to 1700, and in 1928 - as conclusion of that large work - the time from 1700 up to the abolition of the Society of Jesus 1773. Professor Sauer called that four-volume work "A masterly achievement of the Catholic science of the present time." Many competent specialists said the same.
Father Duhr published good two dozen of brochures. His war prayer booklet was sent by thousands to the front.
Duhr was also the founder of the booklet "Mitteilungen", which gave regularly information to the members of the Order, and found much applause. It was published by him for more than thirty years.
Father Duhr lived frugally, and he practiced much charity. He gave help to many deserving poor, as is testified by numerous thank-you-letters. Particularly younger brethren got assistance from him.
In August 1930 he was still sometimes substitute in the children's home to Stockdorf, where he helped frequently. From there he returned very ill to Munich. The physician diagnosed pleurisy, also the lungs were affected. The end seemed no longer far. With devotion he received the extreme unction. He did no longer wish attendance. The weakness rendered the speaking difficult for him. The last days of his life he wanted to be alone with himself and with God. With the sinking sun of September 21st he went home to God.
His work is an inexhaustible storehouse, without deception and without polemic exaggerations. No other Order possesses something comparable.
[back to Otto Syre's SJ-Calendar]