October 28, 1768, Danzig, Prussia (now Gdańsk, Poland).

February 14, 1826, Weimar, Germany.

Alter Friedhof, Weimar, Germany.


Born to a poor family, Falk had to leave school at age 10 to help his father, a wig maker. He continued to study at night, though, and did so well that the town council gave him a scholarship to the University of Halle, where he studied classics and theology. In 1798, he married and settled down as a man of letters at Weimar, where he was welcomed by Herder, Goethe, and Wieland, and gained some reputation as a writer of satirical works. During the Napoleonic wars, after the 1806 Battle of Jena, he found his true vocation as a philanthropist, first in the field hospitals, then in the care of destitute children. With court preacher Horn, he founded the Society of Friends in Need, and shortly thereafter began his center for poor children in Weimar.

  1. O du fröhliche, o du selige