About Alfred Schmid
Alfred Schmid was a Swiss citizen. He was born in Mulhouse in Alsace in 1899 where he also grew up until 1913 when his parents moved to Basel. In Basel, he joined the student group of the “B.C.” (Bible Circle), where he later also led his own groups. Around 1922/23 he left the B.C. to found the “Basel Circle”, a youth association related to the German Youth Movement. From 1926 onwards he was in contact with youth groups in southern Germany, which eventually (1930) led to the establishment of the independent association “The Grey Corps” with various regional areas of focus, which Alfred (Fred) Schmid directed until such associations were banned by the national socialist government in 1934.
Alongside his engagement with the Youth Movement, Schmid studied natural sciences in Basel, leading up to a PhD, a habilitation, and a research assistant position. He was only 29 when he was appointed associate professor of physical chemistry at the University of Basel. His work as a university teacher led to a series of inventions and patents in the field of electrochemistry (galvanic cells, batteries), the area of nascent synthetic materials and resins, the development of “Homogenholz” (homogenous wood) – a precursor of today’s particle boards – and many other subfields. (For more information see Karl-Joachim Euler, Entwicklung der elektrochemischen Brennstoffzellen, Munich: Thiemig 1974.)
In 1932, Alfred Schmid gave up his work as a professor at Basel and moved to Berlin where he started to explore the commercial opportunities afforded by his scientific research. After Hitler came to power, he was for several months held in confinement by the Gestapo because of his activities in the Youth Movement, his political ties – Schmid worked with Harro Schulze-Boysen as co-editor of the journal “Gegner” [Opponent] –, and his critical, nonconformist views. The war destroyed his house in 1944 and made it more difficult for him to pursue his research activities.
In 1945, his company relocated to Konstanz, and soon after the end of the war he returned to his native Switzerland, eventually residing in Locarno. Schmid’s interest in commercial and scientific activities gradually subsided as he increasingly turned towards natural-philosophical and religious topics, which had interested him since he was young and which were already present in his earlier works, resulting in his Traktat über das Licht. Eine gnostische Schau, published in German in 1957, and in English translation in 1984 (The Marvel of Light. An Excursus, East-West Publications). The Traktat was to be followed by another book, which remained unfinished and which could only be published in 2007 from his estate, titled Principium Motus. Vom Wesen der Schöpfung, and in English translation in 2019 as Principium Motus. On the Nature of Creation. The last years of Alfred Schmid’s life were overshadowed by various physical and mental hardships, which led to his death in late 1968.
The Prof. Dr. Alfred Schmid-Stiftung looks after his spiritual and intellectual legacy and publishes his works in the Graue Edition, including his as yet unpublished literary remains. Our catalogue of publications provides an overview of all his available books and works.
On the Youth Movement and the “Grey Corps”
- Leonardo. Brief und Siegel [Leonardo. Letter and Seal]. Potsdam 1926 (under the pseudonym “Georg Sebastian Faber”)
- Zarathustras Nachfolge [Zarathustra’s Succession]. Darmstadt 1930 (under the pseudonym “Georg Sebastian Faber”)
- Aufstand der Jugend [Rebellion of the Youth]. Berlin 1932 (under the name Fred Schmid)
All three works have been reprinted in: Erfüllte Zeit. Schriften zur Jugendbewegung [Fulfilled Time. Writings on the Youth Movement]. Published by the Prof. Dr. Alfred Schmid-Stiftung. With an introduction by Dietmar Lauermann, Heidenheim 1978.
Additional Sources and Resources
- In memoriam Alfred Schmid. Chronik und Anruf [Chronicle and Call].
Published by the Prof. Dr. Alfred Schmid-Stiftung. With an afterword by Dietmar Lauermann, Altorf/Uri 1975.
- Wilhelm Wald, Inseln der Unantastbarkeit. Erinnerungen an Alfred Schmid und das Graue Corps [Islands of Inviolability. Memoirs of Alfred Schmid and the Grey Corps].
Published by the Prof. Dr. Alfred Schmid-Stiftung, Heidenheim 1980.
- Werner Kindt (ed.), Die deutsche Jugendbewegung 1920-1933. Die bündische Zeit (Dokumentationen der Jugendbewegung, Band III) [The German Youth Movement 1920-1933. The ‘Buendische’ Period (Documentations of the Youth Movement, vol. III)]. Dusseldorf/ Cologne: Diederichs 1974.
- Walter Sauer, Begegnungen und Schicksal. Beiträge zur Pädagogik, Jugendbewegung, Natur und Kunst [Fateful Encounters. Contributions to Education, Youth Movement, Nature, and Art].
Published by the Prof. Dr. Alfred Schmid-Stiftung, Zug 2013.
- Die Diffusionsgaselektrode [The Gas Diffusion Electrode], Stuttgart: Enke 1923
- Die kinetische Katalyse [Kinetic Catalyis], Stuttgart: Enke 1925.
- Traktat über das Licht. Eine gnostische Schau, Bonn 1957.
Engl. translation: The Marvel of Light. An Excursus, East-West Publications 1984.
- Von der Natur der Liebe. Schau und Bekenntnis [Of the Nature of Love. Vision and Commitment], Zug/Schweiz, Witzenhausen 1999.
- Principium motus. Vom Wesen der Schöpfung. Eine gnostische Schau, Zug/Schweiz, Kusterdingen 2007.
- Engl. Translation: Principium motus. Of the Nature of Creation. A Gnostic Vision, Zug/Switzerland 2020.