Karl Rinner

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Karl Rinner (born October 4, 1912 in Gratkorn , Styria , † August 27, 1991 in Graz ) was an Austrian geodesist , university lecturer in Berlin and Graz and civil engineer .

Because of his extensive achievements in photogrammetry , engineering and higher geodesy , he received the honorary title of "universal geodesy" in professional circles.


Childhood between card games, Kepler and art

Karl Rinner was born in October 1912 as the fifth child of the mayor of Gratkorn (Styria), Hans Rinner and his wife Maria. The father's ancestors were farmers and innkeepers , the mother came from Wildon south of Graz.

After elementary school in Gratkorn, Rinner came to the Graz Keplerschule , where his wide range of interests became evident. The secondary school student optimized railway timetables for the use of his classmates and occupied himself with reading and painting .

His father died in 1928, and Rinner subsequently took part in the family business and graduated from middle school in 1930 .

Studies and early employment

In autumn Rinner began studying mathematics and descriptive geometry at the University of Graz and surveying at the TH . This time later shaped him and contributed to his interest in photogrammetry . In 1936 he graduated from the TH degree, followed in the same year by his dissertation on Wiener'sche imaginary projection .

Because of the unemployment prevailing in Austria, Rinner found work in Germany. In the Land Survey Office in Munich , Rinner was assigned the triangulation that led him through large parts of Bavaria .

In 1938 he married his fiancée Waltraud (daughter of Count Maldeghem near Graz). They soon moved from Ansbach to Munich, where Rinner set up a photogrammetric department .

Special deployment in the war, activity in the navy and habilitation in Berlin

Rinner was posted for special use in 1939. The initially released civilian received a request to set up a “photogrammetry and surveying” department in the navy and, after completing basic military training, took up the position of lieutenant captain . In the course of the war he rose to the senior government council (rank of frigate captain ).

During this time he completed his habilitation at the TH Berlin -Charlottenburg , where he lectured as a lecturer and developed the basics of a new discipline, marine geodesy .

New beginning in Graz

At the end of the war he was able to return to his family in Gratkorn (3 sons and 5 daughters), but was not given full freedom of movement in the British occupation zone until 1948 due to the denazification. He worked in the cadastre and on technical surveys. His second habilitation took place in 1953 at the TH Graz , and finally he became known elsewhere through lectures, trips and guest lectures. In 1957 he was appointed director of the German Geodetic Research Institute in Munich.

Professorship in Graz and international activity

It was not until 1959 that Rinner was appointed full professor - probably because of his stressful activities in the National Socialist Third Reich . However , he exchanged the call to the TH Vienna with Alois Barvirs at the TH Graz , so that both could stay in their own federal state.

He began special research in photogrammetry, the measurement of earth tides , EDM distance measurement and also in the latest field of satellite geodesy . New contacts to the USA and Canada , to South America , Africa , Japan and the GDR were established - and international recognition in the form of leadership positions in study groups , in scientific associations such as IAG and IUGG - and a total of 4 honorary doctorates .

Scientific publications

Karl Rinner wrote several geodetic textbooks and 2 books of the 12-volume standard work Handbuch der Vermessungskunde ("Jordan-Eggert- Kneissl ") - namely Volume VI (electronic distance measurement ) and IIIa ( photogrammetry ). He also wrote (often as a co-author ) around 160 scientific publications between 1936 and 1982 . They mainly relate to the following topics:

Land and engineering surveying

Marine and Higher Geodesy

Honors, academic and international functions

In 1978, Karl Rinner was released from his duties at TU Graz when he retired . Until 1990/91 he wrote book reviews for specialist journals such as Österreichische Zeitschrift für Vermessungswesen (ÖZ, since 1994 VGI - Österreichische Zeitschrift für Vermessung und Geoinformation ) and ZfV .


In recognition of his services, the Austrian Geodetic Commission awards the Karl Rinner Prize for international presentations and publications by young Austrian scientists .

Award winners have been:

  • 2003 - Franz Rottensteiner
  • 2004 - Johannes Böhm (geodesist)
  • 2005 - Andreas Wieser
  • 2006 - Alexander Reiterer
  • 2007 - Paulo Jorge Mendes Cerveira
  • 2008 - Helmut Woschitz
  • 2010 - Tobias Nilsson
  • 2011 - Elmar Wasle
  • 2013 - Hana Krásná
  • 2014 - Andreas Roncat
  • 2015 - Philipp Berglez
  • 2016 - Michael Schindelegger
  • 2017 - Matthias Ehrhart
  • 2018 - Andreas Hellerschmied

Since June 1997, Rinner has given its name to the Rinner Trough , a deep-sea trench in the Antarctic Weddell Sea . On October 29, 2012, a memorial colloquium of the Austrian Society for Surveying and Geoinformation with Bernhard Hofmann-Wellenhof and Professors Holger Magel , Gottfried Konencny, Hans Sünkel and Fritz Brunner took place in the auditorium of Graz University of Technology in memory of Professor Rinner on the occasion of his 100th birthday Speakers instead.


  • Geodaesia Universalis. Festschrift for Karl Rinner's 70th birthday . Communication from the geodetic institutes of Graz University of Technology, Volume 40, pp. 1–24, Graz 1982.
  • o.Univ.Prof. GDR. Karl Rinner on his 65th birthday . Austrian Zeitschrift für Vermessungswesen & Phot., Vol. 65, pp. 144–159, Vienna 1977.
  • In memory of Karl Rinner . Zeitschrift für Vermessungswesen (ZfV), vol. 116, pp. 588-590, Stuttgart 1991.
  • Holger Magel: Karl Rinner for the hundredth. The Styrian who loved Bavaria so much. In: Communications of the DVW-Bayern , 1/2013. Pp. 9-20.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. VGI Online Archive. Austrian Society for Surveying and Geoinformation , accessed on January 23, 2020 .
  2. ^ ÖGK , accessed on January 22, 2020
  3. Austrian Journal for Measurement & Geoinformation , Issue 4/2012, pp. 391–409