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Gorch Fock

Gorch Fock [ɡɔʀx fɔk][1] was the pseudonym of the German author Johann Wilhelm Kinau (22 August 1880 – 31 May 1916). Other pseudonyms he used were Jakob Holst and Giorgio Focco.


Kinau was the eldest child of fisherman Heinrich Wilhelm Kinau and his wife, Metta Holst, on the Elbe island of Finkenwerder, near Hamburg. In 1895 he was apprenticed to his uncle, the merchant August Kinau in Geestemünde (today part of Bremerhaven), and from 1897 until 1898 he attended a commercial school in Bremerhaven. Later he was employed as an accountant in Meiningen, Bremen, Halle (Saale) and from 1907 at the shipping company Hamburg-Amerika-Linie in Hamburg. He married Rosa Elisabeth Reich in 1908, with whom he had three children.

In 1904 Kinau started publishing poetry and stories in his native Low German dialect. In 1913 he published his most popular work, the novel Seefahrt ist Not!, in which he describes the life of the deep sea fishermen of his home island.

In the First World War, Kinau was drafted into the German infantry in 1915. He fought in Serbia and Russia and later at Verdun. From 1916 he served in the German Navy, having requested the transfer. He served as a lookout on the light cruiser SMS Wiesbaden and died when the ship was sunk in the Battle of Jutland. His body was found on the Swedish shore near Fjällbacka and interred on the island of Stensholmen together with other German and British servicemen.

The German Navy named two training windjammers in his honor, the Gorch Fock of the Kriegsmarine and the Gorch Fock of the Bundesmarine.


  1. "Fock, Gorch", in Webster's Biographical Dictionary (1960), Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.


  • 1910 Schullengrieper und Tungenkrieper
  • 1911 Hein Godenwind
  • 1913 Hamborger Janmaten
  • 1913 Seefahrt ist Not! (ISBN 3-499-14148-5)
  • 1914 Fahrensleute
  • 1914 Cilli Cohrs (play)
  • 1914 Doggerbank (play)
  • 1914-15 War poems in Plattdüütsch
  • 1918 (posthumously) Sterne überm Meer (Diary notes and poems)

Further reading

  • Gorch Fock. Mythos, Marke, Mensch. Aufsätze zu Leben, Werk und Wirkung des Schriftstellers Johann Kinau (1880-1916), ed. by Rüdiger Schütt. Nordhausen 2010, ISBN 978-3-88309-575-2

External links

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