Childhood and School Years

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Werner Sylten was born on August 9, 1893 in Hergiswyl, Switzerland. His father, the chemist Dr. Alfred Sylten, was the scion of a Jewish family from Königsberg in East Prussia. He converted from Judaism to Christianity before marrying Emma Bertrand, a Protestant originally from Alsace, and changed his name from Silberstein to Sylten. Werner Sylten was the eldest of five children from their marriage.

The family had to move repeatedly for professional reasons. Werner Sylten spent his school years in varying places, first in Berlin, then in Friedeberg am Queis and, as of 1907, at the humanist high school in Lohr am Main from which he graduated in 1913. His teachers commended his diligence and emphasized his language skills in particular. In his free time, he most liked to go hiking and to draw and he played the violin. A religion teacher evidently influenced his decision to pursue a degree in Protestant theology after his high school graduation.

Source / title

  • © Private collection of Walter Sylten, Berlin