Schnepfenthal Salzmann School

The Schnepfenthal Institution (Salzmannschule Schnepfenthal) is a boarding school in the district of Gotha, Germany, founded in 1784.

Schnepfenthal Salzmann School
Salzmannschule Schnepfenthal
Salzmannschule in Waltershausen- Schnepfenthal Thuringen.jpg
Klostermühlenweg 2

, ,

Coordinates50°53′0″N 10°34′26″E / 50.88333°N 10.57389°E / 50.88333; 10.57389Coordinates: 50°53′0″N 10°34′26″E / 50.88333°N 10.57389°E / 50.88333; 10.57389
TypePublic boarding school
Established1784; 237 years ago (1784)
HeadmasterDirk Schmidt
Teaching staff46 (2009/10)
Number of students393 (2009/10)
Average class size16
Student to teacher ratio8:1
Abitur average1.4

In addition to compulsory education in English and German, students in 6th grade choose from Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Latin is taught in year 5, and the student may continue studying Latin throughout his education at the Salzmannschool, if he wishes. In year 8, students must choose from French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. 9th grade students have to choose among three of those four languages again, depending on which language they began studying in year 8.[1]

It is amongst a handful of government supported schools specifically catering to the academically talented in Germany, along with institutions such as Pforta and the Landesgymnasium für Hochbegabte Schwäbisch Gmünd. To gain admission, prospective students have to pass a special entrance examination facilitated by faculty from the University of Erfurt.[2][3]


Located on the northern slopes of the Thuringian Forest, the school is in Walterhausen in the district of Gotha, near Castle Reinhardsbrunn.


The linguist and theologian Christian Gotthilf Salzmann founded the school in 1784, with the intention to focus on languages, practical work and physical exercise. Salzmann was an influential theorist in childhood education, and his treatise 'Elements of Morality' was translated into the English language by the 18th century British feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. In the book Child of the Enlightenment,[4] Rotterdam University professors Arianne Baggerman and Rudolf Dekker stated:[citation needed]

"We know a lot about the ideological basis of Salzmann's school, because he outlined it in a detailed prospectus published in 1785. He began by stating that for the last fifteen years, people had been waking up to the fact that much of the 'wretchedness and misery' in the world had been caused by a misspent education. Like the other philanthropists, he was keenly aware of being an innovator. He chose the village of Schnepfenthal because, he said, it was 'not situated so close to the city that it could be badly influenced by it, yet it was close enough to allow the pupils to associate with upright, enlightened and cultivated people'."

The support of the Freemasons of Gotha and the patronage of Leopold III, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau were also integral to the founding of the school.[5] Leopold III was a noted liberal and social reformer, who also supported the founding of the first Jewish newspaper in Germany.[6]

Since its early days, the school was internationally known as a pioneer in education and was visited by many pedagogues and intellectuals including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Christoph Martin Wieland.[7][8] The husband of Queen Victoria, Albert, Prince Consort, was frequently sent there as a boy to play with the students.[9]

Teachers and alumniEdit

Some of the people who have taught or studied there include [10]

  • Christian Carl Andre, leading 19th century European naturalist and pioneer of the biological concept of heredity whose vision paved the way for the research of Gregor Mendel, the founder of modern genetics[11]
  • Hans Domizlaff, the only disciple of the artist Max Klinger; Germany's first guru on advertising and public branding; instrumental in helping Carl Friedrich von Siemens establish Siemens as a mass market consumer brand in the 1930s[12]
  • Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths, founder of modern gymnastics whose ideas were adopted by schools and universities throughout Britain and the United States in the 19th century
  • Edward C. Hegeler, wealthy German-American industrialist and philanthropist; founded The Monist, one of America's oldest and most important journals on philosophy[13]
  • Christian Paulsen, law professor, politician and Danish nationalist[14]
  • Carl Ritter, founder of scientific geography; co-founder of the Geographic Society of Berlin; mentored explorers such as America geographer and Princeton professor Arnold Guyot, China explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen, and Africa explorer Heinrich Barth
  • Ferdinand Springer, businessman who inherited a four-employee firm and built it into the world's largest publisher of science, technology and medicine journals; Springer Science + Business was acquired by BC Partners in 2013 for €3.3 billion.[15][16][17][18]
  • Herbert Beerbohm Tree, English actor-manager, was educated at the school[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Bildende Kunst - Goethe-Institut".
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Arianne Baggerman and Rudolf Dekker, Rotterdam University professors, Child of the Enlightenment, page 60
  5. ^ Joachim Whaley, Oxford University Press, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, page 520
  6. ^ J. Morley, "The Bauhaus Effect," in Social Utopias of the Twenties (Germany: Müller Bushmann press, 1995), 11.
  7. ^ "Salzmann, Christian Gotthilf (1744–1811) - Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society".
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Charles Grey, Cambridge University Press, Early Years of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort: Compiled Under the Direction of Her Majesty the Queen, page 42
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ "The "Useful Questions of Heredity" before Mendel". 3 June 2009. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  12. ^ [5]
  13. ^ "Home -".
  14. ^ Thaler, Peter (March 22, 2008). "Identity on a Personal Level: Sleswig Biographies during the Age of Nationalism". Scandinavian Studies. 80 (1): 51 – via
  15. ^ "Springer SBM - EQT".
  16. ^ "Springer Timeline".
  17. ^ [6]
  18. ^ Springer-Verlag. Pt. 1: 1842-1945 : foundation, maturation, adversity, p. 395, at Google Books
  19. ^ B. A. Kachur, "Tree, Sir Herbert Beerbohm (1852–1917)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007), online edition at doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36549 (subscription required)

External linksEdit