Alfred Heilbronn

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alfred Heilbronn (born May 28, 1885 in Fürth ; died March 17, 1961 in Münster ) was a German-Turkish botanist .


Heilbronn was the son of a factory owner in Fürth. After graduating from high school in Nuremberg , he studied natural sciences in Munich and received his doctorate in botany, physics and chemistry in 1909 . During his assistantship with stays in Berlin, Monaco and Münster , he converted from Judaism to Protestantism and in 1913 married the art historian and teacher Magda Detmer (1889–1944). They had two children, Hans (1915–1973) and Agnes (1920–2008).

After completing his habilitation in 1913, he was a deputy professor of botany at the University of Münster during the First World War , where he ran the botanical garden . He was appointed associate professor in 1921.

Heilbronn was a member of the German Democratic Party from 1918 until it was banned in 1933 . After the transfer of power to the Nazis , he was under boycotts leave the Münster students in April 1933, in September 1933, he was due to the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service , the instructor withdrawn. He managed to get a call to the University of Istanbul , where he worked from 1935 to 1955 at the pharmacological-botanical institute he had founded. During this emigration he quickly found his way around the Turkish language. Alongside other German scientists, his friend Curt Kosswig and their mutual acquaintance Alfred Kantorowicz also worked at Istanbul University . His two children studied medicine in Turkey. Heilbronn was expatriated from the German Reich in 1941 and the remaining assets in Münster were “Aryanized” . In Istanbul he planned, founded and managed the University's New Botanical Garden , which also bore his name: Alfred Heilbronn Botanik Bahcesi . After his application for naturalization had been rejected in 1939, he was given Turkish citizenship in 1946 .

View from the Botanical Garden over the Golden Horn
Former entrance gate to the Botanical Garden, which was closed in 2019

Heilbronn was married to Fatma Mehpare Başarman (1910–1993) for the second time since 1948, they had a son Kurt (* 1951). At the age of 70, Heilbronn returned to Germany in 1955 and still taught in Münster as an emeritus . The botany professor Mehpare Heilbronn was dismissed during the military coup in Turkey in 1960 . After her rehabilitation (1962), she emigrated to the Federal Republic in 1964.

Heilbronn's specialty was, in addition to genetics, which have since become promising, medicinal plants , for which the environment in Asia Minor offered him great opportunities. It was this peculiarity that brought him the invitation to Istanbul in 1935. There he was particularly fond of combing the mountain flora of the mountain ranges on the east coast of the Marmara Sea .

The Botanical Garden founded by Heilbronn was taken away from the Botanical Institute of Istanbul University by the Turkish government in 2014 and transferred to the neighboring religious administration. After a transition period, the garden has been closed to the public since 2019 and the sign above the entrance gate has been removed. Part of the garden with a view of the Golden Horn will probably be built on.


  • Apogamy, hybridization and hereditary relationships in some ferns , Jena: Fischer, 1910. Diss. Univ. Munich, 1909.
  • Hydromedusae. Observations faites au Musée océanographique de Monaco, sur le mode et la vitesse de croissance de Slauridium cladonema II. , Monaco [1911], Bulletin de l'Institut océanographique, no. 214
  • Edible and poison mushrooms: A determination book f. Beginners , Münster: Borgmeyer 1917
  • Principia genetica: basic knowledge a. Basic terms d. Hereditary Science , Hamburg 1961

as well as various works in Turkish


  • Gisela Möllenhoff; Rita Schlautmann-Overmeyer: Jewish families in Münster 1918 to 1945. Biographical lexicon. Westphalian steam boat, Münster 1995 ISBN 3-929586-48-7
  • Fritz Neumark : Refuge on the Bosporus. Knecht, Frankfurt 1980, ISBN 3-7820-0443-4 .
  • Faruk Şen, Dirk Halm (Ed.): Exile under the crescent moon and the star. Herbert Scurla's report. Klartext, Essen 2007, ISBN 3-89861-768-8
    • therein: Herbert Scurla : The activity of German university lecturers at Turkish scientific universities (first 1939)
  • Oliver Raß: In memory of Alfred Heilbronn , hall talks, University of Münster, 2014.
  • Arın Namal, Peter Scholz, Orhan Küçüker: A German émigré who gave the name to the botanical garden of the University of Istanbul: Prof. Dr. Alfred Heilbronn (1885–1961) and his position in the history of Turkish botany. 2010, In: Ingrid Kästner, Jürgen Kiefer (Hrsg.): Botanical gardens and botanical research trips. Shaker Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-8322-9828-9 , pp. 179-212, online , other version online .

Web links

Commons : Istanbul University Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ali Vicdani Doyum: Alfred Kantorowicz with special reference to his work in İstanbul (A contribution to the history of modern dentistry). Medical dissertation, Würzburg 1985, pp. 268-270, here: p. 270.
  2. Kemal Bozay: Exil Turkey , Münster: Lit, 2001, p. 110, ISBN 3-8258-5103-6
  3. Christine-Felice Röhrs and Linda Say: Paradise sold. The first botanical garden in Turkey is now closed , Frankfurter Rundschau, June 8, 2019, p. 48. & Karin Senz: Botanical garden is to be repotted ,, July 20, 2018
  4. Scurla was a National Socialist to control and spy on the exiles. He later made a steep career in the GDR