Albert Kniepf and Alfred Witte

by Michael Feist, Hamburg
from Hamburger Hefte Journal 179/2018, p. 5-6

Albert Kniepf (1853-1924) was a philosopher, literary critic and astrologer. At the end of the 19th century, Kniepf contributed significantly to the serious revival of astrology in Germany with his publications and his personal commitment. What was special about Albert Kniepf was that he did not only refer to former traditions, but also particularly committed himself to the modernization of astrology in the sense of a modern science. Kniepf thus became the first spokesman for a development that a few years later led to an innovative astrological scene with a scientific claim.

In his writing, in this issue: "The Psychic Effects of the Celestial Bodies - Physical Foundations of Horoscopy and Astrology in Outline" (1898), Kniepf makes clear his philosophically scientific point of view. Kniepf used scientific and boundary-scientific findings and the principles of nature in analogy to astrological hypotheses.

Anyone who has studied the works of Alfred Witte (1878-1941) will find clear parallels to Albert Kniepf. Alfred Witte writes in a similar line of argumentation and also refers to the scientific findings of numerous scientists, which I dealt with in detail in my article "Alfred Witte's Cosmology", HH 2011/172.

Witte adopted Kniepf's concept of magnetic fields, and slightly modified the division into colours. Everyone who knows Witte's older 360° disc will remember the colours of the zodiac and the fields. This segmentation was for Witte an important basis for the astrological evaluation of known and unknown planets. There is no doubt that Kniepf had an important influence on Witte's theoretical approaches. This was no coincidence, because the 25 years older Kniepf belonged to Alfred Witte's personal circle of acquaintances.

A research on addresses that I carried out revealed a detail that had remained unknown until now, but which nevertheless contributed to a closer understanding: Kniepf and Witte lived in the immediate vicinity in the Hamburg-Borgfelde district. Only two parallel streets separated the apartments. The personal closeness may have given the relationship of trust a special touch in a common cause. The following report by Wilhelm Hartmann (astronomer and later director of the Nuremberg Observatory) undoubtedly illustrates a special relationship:

»In 1914 [...], when I first met the Hamburg astrologer Alfred Witte, I urged him to process and publish the extensive astrological material stacked at Witte. But the war initially hindered the execution of this plan. Witte was drafted soon after the outbreak of war and made all his material available to Mr. Albert Kniepf, Hamburg, in the event of his death«, 1925, cf. "Der Mensch...", p. 297.

Witte published articles that can be seen as a direct extension of Albert Kniepf's lines of argument, such as "The magnetic colours of the signs of the zodiac" (1920), cf. "Der Mensch...", p. 22.

One even has the impression that Witte's first public article was inspired by Albert Kniepf's way of thinking, see "Considerations about color, number, tone" (1913), "Der Mensch", p. 17.

In the past, these parallel theoretical approaches led to the assumption that Alfred Witte's working method was based on Albert Kniepf's ideas. Ludwig Rudolph approached a student of Kniepf for clarification. She explained unequivocally that Witte's method differed from Kniepf's method and was something in its own right. —



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