Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt
Ein Nachfahre "Grünewalds" ?
Die Überlieferungen der Familie Niedhardt
Does the family Niedhardt from Halle descend from the well-known German painter Mathis Gothart Nithart, mentioned "Gruenewald" how it is maintained in their family chronicle?
The original version of the Nithardum Cronica is said to go back to the year 1621. At that time traditions of the 16th century and earlier were written down. The family chronicle was again copied 10 years later and from now on was given and guarded from generation to generation in the Nithart/Niedhardt-family. The family records say that Nithart (a grandchild of Charlemagne) as well as Neidhart from Reuenthal belong to the ancestors of Mathis Gothart Nithart. Their descendants settled in the area of Halle and Magdeburg in the 17th century. The family tree of the family Niedhardt of Halle can be followed back to Johannes Christoph Niedhardt, who was born 1777 in Gross-Oschersleben.
Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt
A grand-grandchild of that Johannes Christoph Niedhardt is Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt, born 11.3.1907 in Lennep. Already at the age of thirteen he got to faces two suitcases packed with a copy of the family chronicle as well as further deliveries. 1923 he wrote a summary with records in book form and let it certify by the police. During the second World War a part of the documents got burnt. In 1965 a cousin of Friedrich Wilhelm asked him to start a renewed copy. This was the recommencement of an untiring investigation he was busy with until his death.
Mathis Gothart Nithart
Central point of his research work was the attempt to prove that in the Nithardum Cronica the detailed statements about the painter Mathis Gothart Nithart (mentioned “Gruenewald”) were correct. Due to an article by Dr. Herbert Vossberg in the specialist paper "Archiv fuer Sippenforschung" Friedrich Wilhelm came into contact with the author 1971. Vossberg who had been dealing with "Gruenewald" for years, saw some of his own theses proved in the family chronicle. An intensive, common and productive research work began. Vossberg brought with his relations and innumerable articles, the Nithardum Cronica to attention. Since to the person of "Gruenewald" only meagre documents were present, people were interested in these new data. But an opposition was formed at the same time. Ahead Dr. Rieckenberg, who misrepresented on each occasion the data set up by Vossberg and Niedhardt. This made Vossberg to write in a letter “there certainly will be contended for the final proof of the Niedhardt family tradition” and in 1975 F.W. Niedhardt wrote in allusion to the refusal of Rieckenberg and Professor Stenger: "in hell now we must illuminate it brightly".
Fight and faith
Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt was convinced of the correctness of the Nithardum Cronica and its contents. Easily can his effort be explained during over 70 years. He was an honest, faithful and kind man and it insulted him, if people did not give credence his remarks. In contrary it made him happy, if a statement of the family chronicle could be confirmed by an expert’s assessment or a declaration by an expert. As in 1975, when Dr. Specker from the city archives of Ulm stated, that the renewed copy of the chronicle 1894 and 1906 are based on data of the 16th century, which where only known to science much later. In 1972 Herbert Vossberg wrote in an article: “Some details of the Nithardum Cronic require critical investigation, but the credibility of the essence is beyond question.” This gives to understand that the painter M. G. Nithart was born in 1455 and not as supposed 1475/1480. Further would it mean, that descendants of the painter would still live today, that is the descendants of Johann Christoph Niedhardt who settled in Magdeburg, Ovelguenne, Prettin, Thorgau, Wuppertal and Brazil.
Dr. Herbert Vossberg died in 1983. Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt followed him on 11.12.1995. It is hoped that their remarks and the statements of the Nithardum Cronica can be proven sometime.
NB. At this time (2005) the remaining documents of the family chronicle are kept by Friedrich Wilhelm’s daughter. Occasionally they will be transferred to the “Herold” in Berlin.
This article was written with agreement of the members by Dr. H. Vossberg and F.W. Niedhardt. A further use of the text as well as the photos is not permitted.
Januar 2004, Roger Neidhart, CH-8335 Hittnau
From left to right: Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt (senior) - Friedrich Wilhelm Niedhardt (junior) - Dr Herbert Vossberg.