Schiller died in May 1805, and his body was unceremoniously dumped in a common, mass grave.
It was only in 1826 that the grave was opened and a skull removed and deemed to be his. It seems the mayor of Weimar had simply chosen the largest one, which was good enough at the time.
Schiller’s friend and fellow German literary legend Johann von Goethe even took it home for a while, writing the poem, “Lines on Seeing Schiller’s Skull” while gazing at the bone.
In 1827 the skull was given a place in the city’s honorary tomb, where the bones of Goethe also now rest, as well as those of regional dukes.
But now, after DNA comparison tests between the skull and Schiller’s relatives, it turns out that the venerated skull was the wrong one.
“We have found out the truth,” president of the Weimar Classics Foundation, Hellmut Seemann.
“It is a further wonder, another one which makes Weimar so special – that not only do poets rest with dukes, but that one poet – and I mean Goethe – has a complete skeleton, and the other nothing at all.”