Walther Kirchner (1905-2004)
Raymond Wolters, February 2005
Walther Kirchner, H. Rodney Sharp Professor of History emeritus at the University of Delaware, died in Baltimore on June 30, 2004. He was 99.
Kirchner was born in Berlin, where he graduated from the Franzosisches Gymnasium. In 1926 his family sent him to the United States for business experience, and he later became a reporter for a German magazine. In the 1930s Kirchner earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles, and he was a member of the faculty at the University of Delaware from 1945 until 1970. He later moved to Baltimore to continue his research at the Johns Hopkins University and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Kirchner was a prolific and meticulous scholar who specialized in Russian history and wrote about Russian-European trade relations. In addition to several monographs that were written and published in German, Kirchner was the author of The Rise of the Baltic Question (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1954); Commercial Relations Between Russia and Europe, 1400–1800 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966); and Studies in Russian-American Commerce, 1820–1860 (Leiden: Brill, 1975). He was also well known as the author of textbooks: Western Civilization to 1500 (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960); Western Civilization since 1500 (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1958); and History of Russia (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1963).
Kirchner was a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and the Max Planck Institute at the University of Gottingen in Germany. He was a past president of the American Society for Reformation Research.
" He was a distinguished man in his field," said John A. Munroe, a former colleague and chairman of the Delaware history department. "He was very much the German professor. He was very formal with most people. He was sharp and quick." Kirchner was a man of considerable presence. At the University of Delaware he was well-respected both as a scholar and as a teacher.
University of Delaware