Horst S. Daemmrich

David Peake
November 29th, 2021

  • Kristine Springate / December 1, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Uncle Horst always impressed me. I first remember his commanding voice and big smile, and then his deep love for reading, writing, education, and teaching, which I share. When I studied at UPenn, he and Aunt Ingrid often invited me and friends to their house for lovely dinners, lively discussions, and a warm evening with family. He, along with many family members, especially my beloved Oma, fostered my fascination with Germany and our family connections there, so I decided to study for a semester in Freiburg, Germany, where I believe he and Aunt Ingrid also studied. When I returned to Penn my senior year, I was finally brave enough to take his famous Mann, Hesse, Kafka seminar, where I got to see him be charming, demanding, funny, and inspiring as a professor. Both he and Aunt Ingrid were wonderful role models as people, writers, and professors, and I too have found great happiness as a professor.
    I’m sad to lose them, and I will hold close to my heart meaningful memories of this unique, loving, and admirable couple.
    Much love to all the family,

  • It was always a great pleasure to have Professor Daemmrich drop in for a visit to the Comparative Literature and Literary Theory office once he retired. He had been a long time member of the our graduate group and taught many years for our program. A true gentleman with a sense of humor who told the most interesting stories. He will be very much missed.

    Deepest condolences to his family.

  • John and Mecki McCarthy / December 1, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    I have many fond memories of Horst. First as a teacher, later as a colleague and friend. Just after Horst finished his PhD and was already on faculty at Wayne State U, he taught an undergraduate seminar on Faust as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Michigan State University at Oakland (now Oakland U) in Rochester, Michigan. I was fortunate enough to take that course and learned early on that he was a demanding, yet engaging teacher. Many years later, Horst was a candidate for a senior position in German at Penn where I was on the faculty. Back then, it was not common to ask a candidate to teach a class as part of the interview process. Hence, my fellow German faculty members turned to me: “John, you had Horst in class. How is he as a teacher?” I thought: “How strange. I am asked to pass judgment on a would-be senior colleague. I still feel like a student of his.” He got the job, and were were close colleagues for eleven years at Penn. As is clear from his teaching track record, my own positive experience of him in the classroom was not a fluke. In the ensuing years we also became very good friends. We exchanged publications and engaged in fruitful discussions. Mecki and I visited as often as we could when we were back in Philadelphia for a brief visit. Horst and Ingrid were always gracious, opening their home to us. All this (and much, much more) is the stuff of lasting memories.

    Deepest condolences to the family.

  • My deepest sympathy for your loss. Horst was an amazing neighbor. I ran into him years ago when he and Ingrid would take their iconic walks around the neighborhood, Horst hands folded behind his back, Ingrid a few steps behind. His “hello there!” was unmistakable. We bonded when I was able to string together a few sentences from my high school German education. His reply was something to the effect of “drink more beer and feel more German.” He loved to tell me about his grand kids latest college experience at Hopkins and Davidson and all their stress in making the big decisions. I loved his recent book story: he hadn’t yet given me a copy but lightheartedly told me only academics will read it-it was just a labor of love. Horst was always so happy to see me and my little girls and my youngest really enjoys Arthur’s imported wooden toys. My older one just liked the chocolates. Thank you.

  • I have many fond memories of Horst as he lived with us for a time when he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago at the same time that my mother was also getting her Masters degree in linguistics. He always entertained our family with his stories and was a lot of fun to be around. My parents used to take my children to visit Horst and Ingrid in Charlevoix, MI when they came there for the summers and my children really enjoyed the visits and frequently came back with buckets of blueberries that Horst and Ingrid helped them pick.
    A number of years later our son David was applying to Temple University School of Dentistry and Horst insisted that David stay with them in Flourtown when he came to Philadelphia for the interview. They were very nice to David and helped him navigate around a new city. Horst even woke him up early in the morning of the day of the interview and insisted that he have a proper breakfast so he would present himself well.
    Marty and I will miss your father and your mother very much and we extend our condolences to you, your brother and the whole family.

  • Horst was my dissertation advisor at Penn. I think I was one of his first advisees. He was both encouraging and challenging as an advisor, and he subsequently remained supportive of my efforts to establish myself in the profession. His courses were informative and engaging. There was a joy that spoke through him as he talked about literature, perhaps most particularly in the course on “Mann, Hesse, Kafka.” There was something appealing about the way he viewed literature. I appreciated his efforts, as teacher and as scholar, to develop a systematic approach to literature while still maintaining an ethical dimension. As he sought to identify the interlacing themes and motifs in a kind of structural way, he never lost sight of the true transformative purpose of literature: to help readers understand life and to lead a good life. This often meant seeking to uncover the reality beyond commonplace facticity. We remained in touch over the years, and I was very pleased to have been able to assist him in the publication of his final book Self-realization before he passed. I will miss him. My deepest condolences to the Daemmrich family.


  • Leave a Reply