Friedrich Oehlkers

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friedrich Oehlkers (born May 6, 1890 in Dassel , Sievershausen district; † November 24, 1971 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German botanist . Its official botanical author's abbreviation is " Oehlkers ".

Life and career

Friedrich Oehlkers was born as the son of Pastor Paul Oehlkers and his wife, a née Seiler, in Sievershausen (Dassel) in Solling . After graduating from high school, he studied biology at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau from 1910 . The botanist Friedrich Oltmanns was an influential teacher . In 1914 he was drafted as a soldier and seriously injured in the Argonne in 1916 . One hand remained paralyzed forever. During his convalescence leave he resumed his studies with Karl Ritter von Goebel and completed it in 1917 with his dissertation on the subject of " Contribution to the history and criticism of Lamarckism in botany ". 1918 state examination in botany , zoology and chemistry at the University of Göttingen . From 1918 Oehlkers was initially an intern at the Botanical Institute of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich , from 1920 assistant at the fermentation physiology laboratory in Weihenstephan and from 1922 finally assistant at the Botanical Institute at the University of Tübingen with Ernst Lehmann .

During these years Oehlkers worked on various topics such as the division of the nucleus of the Characeae , post-floral curvatures, spore formation in Saccharomycetes , and the history of the development of Monophyllea . As early as 1921, under the influence of Otto Renner , who was then working at the Botanical Institute in Munich, he made attempts to inherit Oenothera , the plant species that would occupy him as a research object for the following decades.

In November 1922, Oehlkers completed his habilitation at the University of Tübingen , where he worked as a private lecturer until 1925. From 1928 to 1932 he was a full professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt .

In April 1932, Oehlkers accepted the chair of botany at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg as the successor to his first academic teacher, Friedrich Oltmann.

In 1922 he married Frances Ida Schwarzschild. Since Oehlker's wife was of Jewish origin, he was exposed to constant harassment from 1933 onwards, as a result of which he had to carry out his research work in an “ inner emigration ”. Despite all adversities, his most important scientific findings date from this time: From 1934 he worked on the physiology of meiosis and in 1942/43 he and his working group were able to prove for the first time that chemicals can regularly cause mutations . In the USA his institute was known as the " Black Forest School of Oehlkers " at this time .

Work after the war

After the total defeat of Germany and the National Socialist regime , Oehlkers played an important role in rebuilding the university due to his political stance during the “ Third Reich ”. In 1945, along with Constantin von Dietze , Gerhard Ritter , Adolf Lampe and the theologian Arthur Allgeier, he was a member of the university's “ cleanup committee ”. Despite the persecution of his wife, whom he had been able to keep from deportation to an extermination camp with great difficulty, and although his only son chose to commit suicide because of the persecution during the war, he also stood up for " incriminated " university members on this committee , such as Martin Heidegger .

During this period, Oehlkers held other positions at the University of Freiburg: Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Rector of the University, founding member of the predecessor organization of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Outstanding evidence of his didactic talent include his textbook “ Das Leben der Gewächse ”, his contribution to the commemorative publication on the occasion of the 70th birthday of his friend Karl Jaspers in 1953 and his lecture on the 500th anniversary of the University of Freiburg in 1957.

Oehlkers retired in 1958 and continued his research on streptocarpus and deciduous mosses in the following years until 1967 at the genetic department of the botanical institute.

Despite the severe blows of fate that Oehlkers had to endure with its damage in the First World War or the persecution of his family after 1933, despite the most difficult conditions in the construction years after 1945, Oehlkers has earned an excellent international reputation as a botanist and cytogeneticist . He was a role model for many of the following generation of researchers who were allowed to expand their institutes in the period after 1960 with rich material equipment and undisturbed by the course of the times.


One of his students, whom he led from 1936 to habilitation (1948), was Cornelia Harte , who later became the first female professor at the University of Cologne , who characterized him as one of her sponsors as follows: “... a professor who is an outstanding scholar of women not regarded as a threat to its existence in science. "

Fonts (selection)

  • Contribution to the history and criticism of Lamarckism in botany. Dissertation. 1917
  • Heredity research on plants. 1927
  • The triggering of chromosome mutations in meiosis by exposure to chemicals. 1943
  • Fifty years of Mendel research . Jasper's commemorative publication “ Open Horizon ” 1953
  • The life of the plants. Textbook of botany. 1956
  • The mutability of the living. Lecture at the 500th anniversary of the University of Freiburg. 1957


  • Hans Marquardt (1974): Friedrich Oehlkers (1890–1971) . Ber. German Bot. Ges. 87: 185-192.
  • Martin Bopp (1991): Friedrich Oehlkers, researcher and teacher. Freiburg University Gazette 111: 69-75.
  • Klaus Sander (1995): Personal Suffering and Constant Need: Life and Survival of Friedrich Oehlkers and his Jewish wife in Freiburg 1933–1945 . Freiburg University Gazette 129: 73–80. Rombach-Verlag, Freiburg.
  • Ute Deichmann (1995): Biologists under Hitler. Portrait of a science in the Nazi state . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag Frankfurt am Main. ISBN 3-596-12597-9
  • Ilse Jahn Hg. (2000): History of Biology. Theories, methods, institutions, short biographies . 3rd edition. Spectrum Academic Publishing House Heidelberg Berlin. ISBN 3-8274-1023-1
  • Rüdiger Safranski (2006): A master from Germany. Heidegger and his time. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-596-15157-0
  • Hans Mohr (2007): Mutability and continuity of the living: chemical mutagenesis and plasmatic inheritance in the life's work of Friedrich Oehlkers (1890–1971) . In: 550 years of the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. Orig. 4. pp. 260-264. Freiburg [u. a.]

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Reports of the German Botanical Society , Brothers Borntræger, 1974, passim ; Preview over google books
  2. Who is who ?: The German Who's Who - Volume 16 - 1970 - page 933
  3. Who is who ?: The German Who's Who - Volume 16 - 1970 - page 933
  4. Hans-Walter Schmuhl, Helga Satzinger: Race research at Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes before and after 1933, p. 150 (2003)
  5. Brigitte Ratzer: "Women in Technology - Daniela Düsentrieb or Florence Nightingale?" in: F. Wuketits (ed.): Beautiful world - women's world? , Kapfenberg 1998. ( Online ( Memento of the original from December 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. , Accessed on 4. December 2016). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

Web links

predecessor Office successor
Gerd Tellenbach Rector of the University of Freiburg
1949 - 1951
Johannes Vincke