Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg

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Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, photo Berlin 1859.
Signature Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg.PNG
Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, lithograph by Rudolf Hoffmann

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (born April 19, 1795 in Delitzsch ; † June 27, 1876 in Berlin ) was a Saxon- Prussian, German zoologist , microbiologist , ecologist and geologist and was one of the best-known and most productive scientists of his time. He was a professor at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin and was appointed to the Secret Medical Council. He is the founder of micropalaeontology and microbiology . Its official botanical author's abbreviation is " Ehrenb. ".


Ehrenberg was born in the house with today's address Hallesche Straße 36 as the son of the Delitzsch citizen, hospital manager and city judge Johann Gottfried Ehrenberg. He attended the Pforta state school from 1809 to 1815 , studied theology at the theological faculty of the University of Leipzig from 1815 at the request of his father and then from 1817/18 medicine and natural sciences . During this time he described the mold Syzygites . In 1818 he received his doctorate with a thesis on mushrooms ( Sylvae mycologicae Berolinenses ) and became a member of the Leopoldina in Halle (Saale) . Then he went on several smaller expeditions. He was a research companion and friend of Alexander von Humboldt .

From 1820 to 1825 he went on an expedition to the Middle East and Arabia with his friend Friedrich Wilhelm Hemprich . Here they collected thousands of plant and animal species. They explored parts of Egypt , Palestine , the Libyan desert, the Nile Valley and the north coast of the Red Sea , where Ehrenberg was particularly concerned with corals . Another expedition in 1825/26 took them through Syria , the Arabian Peninsula and Abyssinia , where Hemprich died of fever on June 30, 1825 . After his return Ehrenberg published a number of articles on insects and corals as well as two volumes Symbolae physicae (1828-1834), in which he scientifically described mammals , birds and insects.

Gravestone, St. Marien- and St. Nikolai-Friedhof I , Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg

In 1827 he became an associate professor of medicine at the Friedrich Wilhelms University and in 1839 a full professor. In 1829 he accompanied Alexander von Humboldt and Gustav Rose on an expedition through Russia to the Urals and through Siberia to the Altai , during which they advanced to the Chinese border. After returning from this expedition, Ehrenberg concentrated on microorganisms that had not yet been systematically researched up to this point. During the next 30 years Ehrenberg examined countless water, rock and sediment samples for microorganisms. He used the microscopes of the Berlin optician Schieck, with whom he also worked closely. Every now and then, Schieck's microscopes were even called Ehrenberg microscopes in specialist circles. The protozoologist Ehrenberg described thousands of new species, including such well-known today as the Euglena ( Euglena ) and the paramecium Paramecium caudatum and aurelia paramecium .

He was particularly interested in the protozoa . In contrast to his opponent Félix Dujardin (1801-1860) Ehrenberg erroneously assumed that the unicellular organisms had the same organs as the higher (multicellular) organisms. Felix Dujardin spoke here of sarcodes in 1835, a term that was later replaced by the botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805–1872) with protoplasm , for the intracellular substance of the unicellular rhizopods .

He also proved that the sea ​​glow is due to microorganisms . He continued his studies of microorganisms in Berlin until his death. His grave is located in the St. Marien and St. Nikolai Cemetery I in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg . It was dedicated to the city of Berlin as an honorary grave until 2015 .

He was married to Julie Rose (1804–48) since 1831 and his second marriage in 1852 to Karoline Friederike Friccius (1812–95), a daughter of the auditor general of the Prussian army Karl Friedrich Friccius . He had a son and 4 daughters from his first marriage and was the father-in-law of the chemist Carl Rammelsberg ( Mathilde (* 1835)) and the botanist Johannes von Hanstein ( Helene (1834–1890)). The botanist Carl August Ehrenberg was his brother.

Awards and heritage

Ehrenberg memorial stone in Delitzsch
2013 in his hometown Delitzsch designed the facade with CG Ehrenberg

Ehrenberg became a full member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin on June 18, 1827 . Since 1834 he was a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . He was also a corresponding member of the Académie des sciences in Paris since December 1831 (since 1860 associé étranger ), a foreign member of the Royal Society and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg (since 1840 honorary member), an honorary member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and became Honored in 1839 with the Wollaston Medal , the highest award of the Geological Society of London . When La Société Cuvierienne was founded in 1838 , he was one of the 140 founding members of the society. In 1842 he was elected secretary of the physical-mathematical department of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, an office which he held until 1867. In 1849 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1851 to the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . In 1867 he was accepted into the Prussian order Pour le Mérite for science and the arts . In 1853 he received the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art . He was dean of his faculty four times and rector of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in 1855/56. He was the first to be awarded the Leeuwenhoek Medal posthumously in 1877 .

The collection of his studies is now in the Museum of Natural History at the Humboldt University in Berlin. The "Ehrenberg Collection" includes 40,000 microscopic specimens, 5,000 specimens, 3,000 drawings and almost 1,000 letters. The Museum of Delitzsch Castle also has a considerable Ehrenberg collection . Ehrenbergstrasse in Berlin-Dahlem was Albert Einstein's first address after he moved to Berlin.

In honor of Ehrenberg, the grammar school in Delitzsch was named Christian-Gottfried-Ehrenberg-Gymnasium in 1949 . One of the Bastian Islands in Hinlopenstrasse ( Spitzbergen ) is also named after Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg.

The genus Ehrenbergia Spreng is named after him . from the red family (Rubiaceae).

Worth mentioning

Ehrenberg had discovered the infusoria in Berlin and noticed that “a large part of the land on which Berlin stands consists of these tiny, hard-shelled animals”. Many in the city were concerned because structural damage had occurred in many houses and that the "little animals would even crawl away with the houses". Ehrenberg consoled him: "They do it so carefully, gentlemen, that you don't understand why your house is on the Elbe one morning".


  • Building bacillary walls. 1872.
  • Memorial speech for Alexander von Humboldt. Oppenheim, Berlin 1870.
  • Commemorative speech given on August 3, 1856. Berlin 1856.
  • On the position of the universities in the state. Berlin 1856.
  • Microgeology. Voss, Leipzig 1854–56.
  • About the dimensional stability and the development circle of organic forms. Dümmler, Berlin 1852.
  • Passat dust and blood rain. Berlin 1849.
  • Messages about the red trade wind dust and the Arabs' dark sea caused by it. Reimer, Berlin 1848.
  • Speech to celebrate Leibnitz's anniversary about Leibnitz's method, relationship to nature, research and correspondence with Leeuwenhoek. Voss, Leipzig, Berlin 1845.
  • Distribution and influence of microscopic life in South and North America. Berlin 1843.
  • About numerous species of chalk formation still alive today. Berlin 1840.
  • The formation of the European, Libyan and Arabian chalk cliffs and the chalk gel from microscopic organisms. Berlin 1839.
  • Microscopic analysis of the Curland meteor paper from 1686. Berlin 1839.
  • Atlas on infusion animals. Voss, Leipzig 1838.
  • The infusion animals as perfect organisms. A look into the deeper organic life of nature. Voss, Leipzig 1838.
  • The fossil infusoria and the living dam earth. Berlin 1837.
  • Observation of a striking, hitherto unrecognized structure of the soul organ in man and animals. Berlin 1836.
  • Additions to the knowledge of large organizations in a small space. Berlin 1836.
  • The glow of the sea: new observations along with an overview of the main moments in the historical development of this strange phenomenon , Berlin: Printing house of the Royal Academy of Sciences 1835. (Lecture before the Royal Academy of Sciences Berlin 1834)
  • Organization in the direction of the smallest space. Berlin 1834.
  • To the knowledge of the organization in the direction of the smallest space. Dümmler, Berlin 1832.
  • Organization, systematics and geograph. Ratio of infusion animals. Two lectures, in d. Akad. D. Science held in Berlin in d. J. 1828 a. 1830. Berlin 1830.
  • Symbolae physicae, see Icones et Descriptiones corporum naturalium novorum aut minus cognitorum [...]. 9 volumes, Berlin 1828–45. (co: Friedrich Wilhelm Hemprich and Johann Christoph Klug )
  • The geographical distribution of the infusion animal in North Africa and West Asia. Berlin 1828.
  • Natural history journeys through North Africa and West Asia from 1820 to 1825 by Dr. WF Hemprich and Dr. CG Ehrenberg, Historical Part. Mittler, Berlin 1828.
  • Travels in Egypt, Libya, Nubia and Dongala. Mittler, Berlin, Posen, Bromberg 1828.
  • Contribution to the characteristics of the North African deserts. Schade, Berlin 1827.
  • Sylvae mycologicae Berolinensis. Bruschcke, Berlin 1818.


  • Maria Curter: He found fertile soil in Berlin: the natural scientist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795–1876) . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 11, 1997, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 51-55 ( ).
  • Hans Erman : World history in Berlin: histories, episodes, anecdotes. Publishing house for international cultural exchange, Berlin 1960.
  • Johannes Hanstein: Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg: a day's work in the field of natural research in the nineteenth century. Marcus, Bonn 1877.
  • Johannes von Hanstein:  Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, pp. 701-711.
  • Walter Kirsche : Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg on the 100th anniversary of his death: a contribution to the history of microscopic brain research. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1977.
  • Hannelore Landsberg: Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg. In: Darwin & Co. Beck, Munich 2001. ISBN 3-406-44638-8 .
  • Max Laue: Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg. Springer, Berlin 1895.
  • Martin Schlegel: Christian-Gottfried-Ehrenberg-Festschrift. Leipzig 1996. ISBN 3-929031-92-2 .
  • Manfred Wilde , Ingrid Kästner: The small worlds are also wonderful and large, and worlds are built from the small. Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795-1876) and the Ehrenberg collection in the Museum Schloß Delitzsch. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 23, 2004, pp. 412-417. ISSN  0177-5227 .
  • Rudolph Zaunick:  Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 4, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1959, ISBN 3-428-00185-0 , p. 349 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • List of the Premiers Fondateurs de La Société Cuvierienne, Association universelle pour l'avancement de la Zoologie, de L'Anatomie comparée et de la Palaeontologie . In: Société Cuvierienne (ed.): Revue Zoologique par La Société Cuvierienne . tape 1 , 1838, p. 189-192 ( ).

Web links

Commons : Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Manfred Wilde : The house book of the city of Delitzsch . 1st part: the old town. Degener, Neustadt an der Aisch 1993, ISBN 3-7686-4135-X , p. 120.
  2. Member entry by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg at the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , accessed on February 1, 2017.
  3. Erwin Stresemann: Hemprich and Ehrenberg. The journeys of two friends exploring nature in the Orient are described in their letters from 1819–1826. Berlin 1954 (= treatises of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, class for mathematics and general natural sciences. Born 1954, no. 1).
  4. Ralf Kern: Scientific instruments in their time . Volume 4. Cologne, 2010. p. 107.
  5. Ralf Kern: Scientific instruments in their time . Volume 4. Cologne, 2010. p. 111.
  6. G. Göke: Introduction to the study of radiolarians . Scientific Association Hagen e. V. 1994. ( PDF  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (with picture and short biography). Members of the predecessor academies. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences , accessed on January 29, 2017 .
  8. ^ Member entry by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (with a link to an obituary) at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on January 30, 2017.
  9. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed December 2, 2019 .
  10. ^ Société Cuvierienne, p. 190.
  11. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 74.
  12. ^ Orden Pour le Mérite for sciences and arts (ed.): The members of the order . tape 1: 1842-1881 . Gebr. Mann Verlag, Berlin 1975, ISBN 3-7861-6189-5 ( [PDF; accessed on September 18, 2011]).
  13. Hans Körner: The Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art and its members . In: Zeitschrift für Bayerische Landesgeschichte 47, 1984, pp. 299–398. On-line
  14. Ingrid Kästner, Manfred Wilde: “The small worlds are wonderful and large, and the small things are used to build worlds.” Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795–1876) and the Ehrenberg collection in the Museum Schloß Delitzsch. In: Würzburger medical history reports 23, 2004, pp. 412–417.
  15. Ehrenbergøya . In: The Place Names of Svalbard (first edition 1942). Norsk Polarinstitutt , Oslo 2001, ISBN 82-90307-82-9 (English, Norwegian).
  16. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names . Extended Edition. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Free University Berlin Berlin 2018. [1]
  17. Quoted from Erman (1960), p. 216.