N.Berdjajew and the German Philosopher

Peter Wust


by Klaus Bambauer



The information on the contacts of N.Berdjajew and the German philosopher,  Peter Wust (1884-1940, later professor of philosophy at the university of Muenster), is largely unknown in the scholarly literature on this subject. As we know from the letters and notices of Wust,  he came at the end of the years 1920's for the first time to France. He wrote: "On 1 May I set foot on the ground of Paris. It was the end of a long way and the fullfilment of a long cherished quiet desire" [from P.Wust, Ein deutsch-franzoesisches Gespraech p 485]. In Paris P.Wust would become familiar with brother intellectual Catholics. So he met in these weeks with the little circle of the French Renouveau catholique. He considered Charles du Bos to be the soul of this community.


The first reference to Berdjajew by Wust that we find is in his letter of 19th of May 1928 to J.Maritain: "I thank you for your friendly invitation to Wednesday. I will come at 5 o'clock. Count de Pange has requested that I come to this meeting with Berdjajew, so as to introduce him. He is interested to become familiar personally with you and Berdjajew".


The next mention of Berdjajew, that we find in the works and letters of Wust, was while considering the views of Maritain, Max Scheler and Berdjajew, and he wrote: "Unforgettable for me are the hours in the house of J.Maritain at Meudon. Always I have to remember to the peace of God [German: Gottesfrieden] there. On the day, when in Cologne [Koeln/Germany] Max Scheler was buried, the 13th of May [1928], we came together this afternoon in a special solemn community. Scheler [the famous German phenomenologist] himself had been often together with this group and inspired them by his genius highly […]. Berdjajew, the famous Russian philosopher told us many details from his conversations with Scheler in those days. Each of us was indebted Scheler and his spirit, full of ideas. Later all the Catholic friends of Scheler in Paris came together in St. Madeleine, to pray for the deceased philosopher."


The next reference to Berdjajew that we find is in a letter, written by Count de Pange on 10th of July 1931 to P.Wust. Pange wrote: "Berdjajew, whom I met this year often (together with du Bos and Maritain and other people) helped me to understand, that Christianity is not only the cult of perfection but of sorrow.”


A further mention of Berdjajew is in a letter of P.Wust, which we find in a letter from 23th of September 1935. He thanks the Catholic theologian K.Pfleger, who wrote in an article to Berdjajew (on Solowjew), that he (Wust) met Berdjajew in 1928 in Paris for the first time. Wust himself suggested the translation of the books of Berdjajew by the publishing house Mohr at Tuebingen/Germany.

The titles of these books, translated from Russian are:


  1. Der Sinn des Schaffens (1927), transl. by R. von Walter [The Meaning of the Creative Act.
  2. Philosophie des freien Geistes (1930), transl. by R. von Walter [Freedom and the Spirit].


Remarks: Peter Wust was born at 28th of August 1884. He was professor of Philosophy from 1930 until 1939 at the University of Muenster/Germany. He died on the 3rd of April 1940 and was buried near Muenster. His works comprise 10 volumes (including many letters).