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Georg Gimpl

Born May 26, 1949 Abtenau (Austria). Died October 10, 2014, Linz (Austria)

Master of Arts 1975 (Germanic philology, pedagogics), PhD 1980 (Germanic philology and psychology), University of Salzburg (Austria)

University lecturer 2004–2014, University of Helsinki
Acting associate professor 1993–1995, University of Helsinki
Docent in the history of science and ideas, University of Oulu
Lecturer in German language and Austrian literature 1975–2003 (permanent appointment 1981), University of Helsinki

Research themes:
The history of philosophy, particularly the history of Austrian philosophy; Austrian and German literature; the cultural history of Bohemia’s German speaking (including Jewish) population; the virtual museum of Russbach, his home village


Kuva: Hartmut Lenk
Written by Hartmut Lenk, Marja Ursin, Valtteri Hyvärinen, Jouni Heikkinen, Helena Leheckova, Susanne Frejborg, Kaarle Holmberg, Faruk Abu-Chacra, Ove Knekt, Mark Shackleton, John Calton, Liisa Tiittula, Andrew Chesterman, Anni Aarinen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by  Matthew Billington

Church and Memorial Service

On October 10, 2015, a year had passed since the death of Georg Gimpl. A memorial service was held at St. Henry’s Cathedral in Helsinki, and at the same time church bells tolled in memory of Georg in Salzburg. There his brother conducted the memorial mass. What could have been a better way to remember Georg, whose personality was anchored deeply in the traditions of the Catholic church?

Although Georg was at times very reserved and critical in his attitude toward the church as an institution, it is impossible to understand him without taking into account the religious aspect of his mind, which played an essential role in his thinking. That is not to say that he was pious. It was an open, historically founded and politically tinged attitude towards all things religious. At the same time it was genuine humility towards everything sacred. “Das öffnet nach oben,” he might say.

In 2009, in his Christmas letter from Santiago de Compostela, he wrote:

With all of my heart, I wish you a blessed Christmas full of grace. – Last summer I came close to losing some friends and then I did lose one, a friend from school who had always been healthy and in such good shape. These experiences once again reminded me that words such as “blessing” and “grace” have by no means grown obsolete. And despite this, Christmas can of course also be “merry”.

Later in the same letter he writes:

But I have not said everything yet: I too turned 60. Although I would like to escape anything that even resembles celebration, I was nonetheless surprised. At midnight I got to hear a serenade and I was very glad I did. It was so beautiful that I intend to turn 60 a couple more times in my life.

I then celebrated this milestone with my brother at a mass in memory of our parents. The place was the former chapel of St. Vitus at St. Peter’s Abbey where Pirkko and I were married long ago

This gives a good picture of Georg, of his greatness.

When my husband and I spent a few days in Rome last spring, we visited innumerable churches. We looked and wondered, and just like that Georg entered our thoughts. Just what could we have seen with Georg? We saw momentary beauty, he would have seen a magnificent, multi-layered masterpiece.

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