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A German Classic: Schiller's Die Räuber

A German Classic 2024: Friedrich Schiller's Die Räuber

© H. P. Haack


Participation Guidelines for Sixth Formers 


We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2024 edition of ‘A German Classic’ – Oxford’s essay competition for sixth-form students. This year we invite you to read Friedrich Schiller’s Die Räuber  (1781) with us.


The play revolves around the big questions of sentiment and reason, freedom and law. The plot centres on the brothers Karl and Franz Moor and their dispute over their father’s affection and inheritance. Karl is slandered by his younger brother Franz, whereupon their father disowns Karl. Karl becomes the leader of a feared band of robbers but remains both haunted by his bad conscience and true to his noble intentions. Meanwhile the greedy and calculating Franz sets out to claim his father’s inheritance for himself and win over Karl’s fiancée Amalia.   


Schiller wrote Die Räuber when he was around twenty years old and it made him immediately famous when it was first performed in 1782. Ever since its premiere, this rebellious play has triggered strong reactions from audiences and prompted social debates that have lost none of their relevance. Explore them for yourself by studyingDie Räuber in the original – one of the iconic works of world literature! 



Entrants must fulfil the following requirements as of 11 September 2024: 

  • be beginning their final year of full-time study at a secondary school in the UK (upper-sixth form, Year 13 or S6 in Scotland); 
  • be between the ages of 16 and 18; 
  • hold a GCSE, IGCSE or equivalent qualification in German offered in the UK, or have at least an equivalent knowledge of German, as confirmed by their teacher; 
  • be resident in the United Kingdom. 

Entrants are not, however, expected to have prior experience of studying German literature. 



Sign up at https://public.mml.ox.ac.uk/mml_apps/community/public/en/form?id=ogn-classic-2024-signup by 12 noon, Friday, 28 June 2024 to receive free physical copies of the German original and an English translation of Schiller’s play, as well as access to a set of free multimedia resources and essay writing guidelines created and curated by us especially for this competition. All study materials will be dispatched in early July.



Up to three prizes will be awarded: a first prize of £500, a second prize of £300, and a third prize of £100. Prizes will only be awarded if work is of sufficient merit. All entrants will receive a Prize Certificate or a Certificate of Participation. Results will be announced in early October 2024.



Students may enter the competition by writing an essay of c. 1500 words answering one of the following questions:


  1. ‘Karl’s nobility causes as much sociopathic mayhem as do Franz’s cynical machinations’ (Dan Latimer). Are the distinctions between hero and villain in Die Räuber shown to be illusory?  


  1. ‘Amalia is an embodiment of traditional femininity and as such has little agency in the play.’ Discuss.   


  1. Compare the depictions of the individual robbers other than Karl and examine what they contribute to the action of the play. 


  1. In his preface to Die Räuber, Schiller also justifies the form of his drama. Analyse why the structure of the play can be considered provocative, and consider how effective it is. 


  1. The theatre resembled a madhouse, rolling eyes, clenched fists, stamping feet, hoarse yells in the auditorium! Entire strangers fell sobbing into each other’s arms. Women, close to fainting, reeled to the door.’ What dramatic techniques can explain this response to the first performance of Die Räuber? 



Entries must fulfil the following requirements: 

  • be submitted by 12 noon, Wednesday, 11 September 2024, via an online form available on the OGN website from 1 July 2024 – entries received by post, by email or after the deadline will not be considered; 
  • answer one of the five essay questions listed above in c. 1500 words – the word count includes the footnotes, but excludes the bibliography;
  • be written in English, with quotations from Die Räuber  in German;
  • have footnotes and a bibliography including all relevant works consulted; 
  • use Times New Roman or Calibri 12 pt, margins of 1 inch, and numbered pages;
  • be submitted in one of the following formats: Microsoft Word document, Open Office document, or PDF;
  • be named in the following way: EntrantSurnameEntrantInitialGCP2024, e.g. BloggsJGCP2024;
  • be the entrant’s own work, involving no text produced with the aid of AI tools;
  • be the work of the entrant without any additional help from staff, which needs to be confirmed by the entrant’s teacher via an online form available on the OGN website from 1 July 2024 by the submission deadline (12 noon, Wednesday, 11 September 2024); teachers will also be asked to state how long the entrant has been learning or speaking German, and to confirm that to the best of their knowledge, the submission is the entrant’s own work, completed without the aid of AI tools.



The judges will consider the quality of intellectual and imaginative engagement with the work evident in the essay while taking account of the quality of understanding, analysis and argument, and – where appropriate – linguistic accuracy of the submission. They will also take account of prior opportunity to study German language and literature. The decision of the judges will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.



If you have any questions, please email the Prize Coordinator, Santhia Velasco Kittlaus, at germanclassic@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.