Born in Posen in 1905, Jean Gebser came from an old Franconian family domiciled in Thuringia since 1236. A nephew of German chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, he was a descendant on his mother's side of Luther's friend Melanchthon. He was educated in Breslau, Königsberg, Rossleben, and at the University of Berlin. In 1929 Gebser emigrated to Italy and subsequently lived in Spain where he was attached to the Ministry of Education of the Spanish Republic. From 1937-1939 he lived in Paris in the circle which included Picasso, André Malraux, Paul Eluard, and Louis Aragon. In 1939 he made his permanent home in Switzerland where he became a citizen in 1951. For many years Gebser was Lecturer at the Institute of Applied Psychology in Zürich and was later appointed honorary Professor of Comparative Studies of Civilization at the University of Salzburg, Austria. For his many publications, including books on Rilke, his friend Federico García Lorca, recent developments in the sciences, East-West relations, evolution, and twentieth century civilization and its antecedents, Gebser received several prizes, including a share of the German Schiller prize, the literary award of the Esslingen Artist's Guild, the Koggen prize of the City of Minden, and the literary award of the City of Berne. He died in Berne on May 14, 1973.
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