A gifted German archaeologist with a wide‐ranging interest in many aspects of Europe's ancient past. Born in Jauer, Silesia, his experience in the field began in 1907, when he assisted in excavations near Potsdam. In the following years he visited several European countries in an archaeological capacity. During WW1 he served in the Office for the Protection of Monuments and Collections on the western front and was later attached to the German Armistice and Peace delegations. In 1924 he began a long association with the Römisch‐Germanischen Kommission (German Archaeological Institute) in Frankfurt am Main, becoming the second director in 1928 and the Director in 1931. Under his guidance the Institute took over new premises and became a centre for scholars from all over Europe to meet and discuss archaeological questions. In 1933 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1935 the Nazi government removed him from office and he began working overseas. He and his wife Maria moved to Britain and, at the invitation of the Prehistoric Society, he undertook a research excavation at Little Woodbury, Wiltshire, in 1938–9, introducing continental methods of excavation to the study of British prehistoric sites. During WW2 he was interned on the Isle of Man, but was allowed to continue his researches with the help of other internees, and between 1939 and 1945 he excavated a number of later prehistoric and Viking‐age sites. After the war, in 1947, he was appointed to a Chair in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Three years later he returned to Frankfurt to take up his former position at the German Archaeological Institute, where he remained until retirement in 1956.
W. Krämer, 2000, Gerhard Bersu: ein deutscher Prähistoriker 1889–1964. Frankfurt: Römisch‐Germanische Kommission des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts