It is with great regret that the University of Heidelberg has received the decision of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Higher Education (in agreement with the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg) relating to the future location for Manuscript C of the Nibelungenlied. The claims of the Heidelberg University Library have been overlooked. "We must accept this decision as a political one," was Rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke's comment. The University, he said, was "extremely disconcerted by the fact that the strong arguments in favour of Heidelberg's unique claims in this respect have gone unheard."
In the last few months, sponsors of the University of Heidelberg had promised the substantial sum of over 1.5 million marks for the purchase of Manuscript C of the Nibelungenlied.
Four reasons for Heidelberg as "by far the most convincing location"
Siebke listed four reasons why Heidelberg is "by far the most convincing location" for this priceless manuscript. From a library-science viewpoint, not least in terms of relevant experience with digitalisation, Heidelberg has undoubted advantages over the Badische Landesbibliothek (State Library) in Karlsruhe, where the manuscript is now to be kept. Heidelberg, said Siebke, has one of the largest collections of medieval German manuscripts anywhere in the world. Both in terms of quality and quantity it is far superior to any other collection in Baden-Württemberg.
Second, from the perspective of the scholarly research context Heidelberg can point to "offerings and merits of major significance" such as only a university with Heidelberg's renown can muster, Siebke went on to say. He then pointed out that Heidelberg has over a century of unbroken research tradition in connection with the Nibelung saga and the Nibelungenlied, adding that Heidelberg's outstanding research reputation in the field had been impressively emphasised in a letter to Minister-President Erwin Teufel from Germany's leading medieval German studies scholar, Prof. Dr. Peter Wapnewski.
The Heidelberg Rector's third point is the study situation in Heidelberg. The numerous highly committed students working on academically valuable manuscripts here are clearly a point in Heidelberg's favour, he said. This aspect has already been stressed in a letter to the Minister-President from Hans-Georg Gadamer, former hermeneutics professor in Heidelberg and the doyen of present-day German philosophy.
Fourthly, Siebke said, Heidelberg's outstanding international reputation should have been taken into account: "The international renown of the University of Heidelberg would have ensured that optimum use be made of Manuscript C of the Nibelungenlied, both in scholarly terms and for the public at large."
Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317