Station: [11] Konrad Jacobs (1928-2015)

Konrad Jacobs

born 1928 – died 2015


I could drink, drink, drink down a whole world...

Konrad Jacobs wrote 183 diaries. His first was at the age of 12, while his final notes were penned just before his death in 2015. Commonplace everyday events are recorded alongside philosophical expositions, extensive descriptions of his numerous journeys and his many encounters with important contemporaries.

What’s striking about this painstakingly recorded life is the reflective manner of its portrayal. This allows him to keep a clear distance from the emotions he’s feeling. At first, he uses school exercise books for his notes, later changing to notebooks with spiral binding, which allow him to insert plenty of pictures, letters, quotations and other contemporary records. Konrad Jacobs attempts to achieve his ideal of being a Renaissance man, someone whose scientific and artistic interests range far beyond his own profession. 

He wants…

“… to become an important person who can have a say on every subject, and that based on well-founded knowledge, on far-reaching empathy...”

The author grew up in Rostock, in an educated middle-class family with a humanist bent. He studied mathematics, physics and philosophy in Munich and Hamburg, then lived in Göttingen and Erlangen, where he held the post of professor of mathematics and taught until 1993.

His life’s work includes many scholarly publications as well as extensive travel diaries.


Konrad Jacobs – Diary, 17th of August to 30th of September 1992

17th of August 1992

Resume writing my diary: 

Only written post cards for several years – nothing that stays with me. Very regularly to Ulla, though only ever disciplined, and that even more so in Gudrun’s case. Diary cards to Friedchen whenever I was travelling on my own. In other words, a complementary streamer of expression.

Each statement is framed, and hence not as elementary as the inner flow of perceptions, drives, intentions, judgments, thoughts, etc. 

Assume only you yourself will perhaps ever read it again – What do you want it to be like? As close to elementary as possible? Or polished to stabilise it? Fine, I’ll polish it a little, but leave it as open to inner depth as possible.

All depictions: © Gerhard Seitz, Das Deutsche Tagebucharchiv e.V.