A mathematician, physicist, geographer and teacher by education, an outstanding historian-regionalist by passion. Born on October 14, 1877 in Altenplathow near Genthin in Old Marcus (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany) as the son of a teacher. He attended the humanities high school in Genthin and the Ritterakademie in Brandenburg (Knight Academy in Brandenburg am Havel). Later he studied mathematics, physics and geography in cities such as Berlin, Göttingen and Greifswald. In 1903 he passed the state teaching exam. The following year he stayed in Toruń and Gdańsk as a teaching trainee. From 1905 he lived and worked in Kwidzyn. First, he was a senior lecturer at the classic Königliche Gymnasium (Royal Gymnasium), which was located in the Classicist building at Flottwellplatz (Flottwell Square), and from 1913, as Oberstudienrat (senior scientific counselor), he held the position of director of a higher secondary school for girls, known as Balk-Schule. Despite receiving an education in sciences, Wernicke was fascinated by history and above all the history of the Kwidzyn region and the city itself, which became his second small homeland. From 1912 he was a member of the board of Das Historisches Verein für den Regierungsbezirk Marienwerder (Historical Society of the Kwidzyn Region), and in later years he became its president. After his release from military service in 1918, he engaged in agitation activities related to the Plebiscite in Powiśle. In 1933, when the city celebrated the 700th anniversary of granting city rights, he was responsible for a number of historical tasks.
Wernicke is one of the best historians of Kwidzyn and its region. He worked tirelessly for years on the rich archives of the city, which turned into an impressive scientific output. The researcher’s bibliography includes numerous articles and books. The most important of them are those of a monographic nature, including: Marienwerder Geschichte der ältesten Stadt der Reichsdeutschen Ostmark, Marienwerder 1933; Die Geschichte der 72 Großbürgerhäuser in Marienwerder, Hamburg 1976; or Kreis Marienwerder – Aus der Geschichte des Landkreises bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, Hamburg 1979.
Erich Wernicke also collaborated with the local museum – Heimatmuseum Westpreussen in Marienwerder (Regional Museum of West Prussia in Kwidzyn). Together with Waldemar Heym and the Historical Society of the Kwidzyn Rejencja, he was the founder of the first exhibits, which constituted the nucleus of museum collections. He then donated 20 archaeological monuments. In 1937 he was removed from the position of the school’s headmaster for political reasons and retired at the age of 60. He moved to Meiningen in Thuringia, where despite all his painful experiences, he continued his research into the history of the city and the region. He died on September 10, 1953 at the age of 76 in Walsrode.
(compiled by J. Jezierska, Ł. Rzepczyński)
Reprod. za: W. Krüger, Stadt und Kreis Marienwerder/Westpreussen – ein Bildband mit Motiven bis zum Jahre 1945, Braunschweig 1993, s. 138.