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Bemidji man's book collection to have new home in Germany

In 2001, Richard Krummel, Bemidji State University emeritus professor of German, transferred his collection of scholarly books to the Friedrich-Nietzsche-Stiftung for a library in Naumburg an der Saale, Germany.

Now, after the books have spent eight years in storage, a building to house them is rising in the town, which is near Niezsche's hometown of Röcken. The library is scheduled to open next spring.

"They are building a house for our library," said Evelyn Krummel.

"I've got one more bunch of books to send them," Richard said.

Krummel specializes in the study of Nietzsche, and, with the assistance of his wife, Evelyn, he has compiled a four-volume German language descriptive bibliography on the famous philosopher.

The first volume of Krummel's "Nietzsche und der deutsche Geist" (Nietzsche and the German Spirit) covers the period of Nietzche's life to 1900. The second volume covers the early 20th century to 1918 and World War I. Volume three covers the period between 1918 and the end of World War II. Volume four runs from 1945 to 1989 when the Berlin Wall was demolished. He said he is working on a final volume, 1989 to the present.

"They're all significant in Nietzsche studies - the (time) breaks," Richard said. "How the German spirit has been formed or reacted to him."

Richard, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., was stationed with the Allied occupation forces in Germany. He said World War II ended when he was in basic training and his ship docked on Dec. 31, 1945. He met Evelyn, a native of Berlin, the next May.

Richard said he saw Evelyn and wanted to get to know her, so he used a line of the only German he knew -- Kennen sie Heinrich Heine?" (Do you know Heinrich Heine? - referring to a favorite German poet, whom he had read in English.)

However, he said he learned German fairly quickly.

"I learned the Berlin dialect," Richard said.

And as the couple's relationship developed, they learned each other's language.

"I spoke German to him and he spoke English," Evelyn said.

However, they could not marry for several years because the U.S. government considered Evelyn an enemy alien, although as a Jewish survivor of the Nazi reign of terror, she was officially classified as a war victim. Her grandmother and other relatives died in concentration camps. She was not allowed to attend the German high school. And her German soldier father, after enduring a Russian winter the first year of the war, was given the choice of divorcing Evelyn's mother and abandoning Evelyn or being forced out of the Army. He chose his family.

Evelyn said her father protected his family by working in a forced labor camp.

In 1953, the couple and their young daughter came to the United States. Richard entered the University of Buffalo, and in 1957, the family returned to Germany, where Richard taught in a German school for four years. They left Germany in 1961, just before the Berlin Wall was erected.

Richard earned a master's degree from Buffalo and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky specializing in German studies. In 1966, Richard and Evelyn came to Bemidji with their three daughters. Richard taught at BSU until retirement in 1990.

The Krummels have been invited to the dedication of the library in Naumburg. Richard said he would like to do research there.

"I'm very happy the books are in the right place," he said.