Leopold Koelbl

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Leopold Kölbl (born March 26, 1895 in Vienna ; † December 25, 1970 there ) was an Austrian geologist . Since 1932 a member of the NSDAP , he was rector of the University of Munich from 1935 to 1938 . His scientific and political career ended in 1939 when he was arrested and later convicted for homosexual acts that were criminal at the time .


Career until 1934

After attending the Realschule Wien IV., The son of an innkeeper studied natural sciences at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Vienna from 1913 . In the First World War he took part in the artillery as a war volunteer from 1915 and was deployed in the east and later on the Italian front, most recently with the rank of lieutenant.

After the end of the war he continued his studies and received his doctorate under Franz Eduard Sueß at the end of 1921 with the thesis on the interpretation of the Moldanubian mica schist zone in the Lower Austrian Waldviertel . A few months before that, he became a research assistant to Alfred Himmelbauer , professor of geognosy at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences , whose assistant he was from 1923 to 1929. Even at this time he was considered “an outstanding candidate” for a professorship “despite his relatively young age” and was “no less to be recommended as a teacher than as a researcher”. In 1927 , Kölbl completed his habilitation and, on April 1, 1929, succeeded Himmelbauers as an associate professor and head of the Geological Institute, who had accepted a call from the University of Vienna.

Political activities

Already at this time Kölbl was close to the Austrian branch of the NSDAP and on June 15, 1932 became a member of the party and the SA . He was active in the NSDAP regional leadership in Austria and rose to Standartenführer in the SA until 1937 .

In 1934 Kölbl left Austria, which had been dictatorially led by Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß as an Austro-Fascist corporate state since March 4, 1933 . On June 19, 1933, the NSDAP was banned by the Austrian government and Kölbl was then removed from his post as professor at the end of the semester in November 1933 for political reasons. According to contemporary German statements, he had to flee, but records from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences speak against it, according to which he had been adopted at the beginning of 1934 by the fraternity "Silvania" and several professional associations with "great propaganda effort". Allegedly he returned to Austria incognito after the unsuccessful attempted Nazi coup in Vienna to free a party member from the internment camp in Wöllersdorf and bring him to Germany.

At the Munich University

In Germany, Kölbl initially took over the chair for general and applied geology at the University of Munich as a substitute for the summer semester of 1934. The appointment was made at the suggestion of the physicist Philipp Lenard and the NSDAP regional leadership in Austria against the express resistance of the responsible faculty section. In October 1934 he was appointed full professor - this time with the support of the faculty. In July 1935 he was appointed dean of the faculty, and in the same year he was appointed rector of the University of Munich by the Reich Ministry of Education . In May 1937 he was appointed, with the consent of Rudolf Hess on the recommendation of Karl Haushofer, as his successor as President of the German Academy founded in 1925 , a semi-state cultural-political association for the research and dissemination of German culture and the promotion of the German language abroad, the forerunner of today's Goethe- Institutes .

In 1938 Kölbl was relieved of his position as university rector at his own request, although all faculties had asked him to extend his term of office and the Munich NS-Gaudozentenbund also considered his stay to be “indispensable”, since the natural science faculty “had the largest number of them National Socialism had little weighted professors ”. Apparently the Reich Ministry of Education under the National Socialist Bernhard Rust at that time intended to enfeoff Kölbl with the rectorate of the University of Vienna, which would have meant an advancement for Kölbl.

Evaluation of Kölbl's activity

The initial inner-university resistance to the appointment of Kölbl was based on his well-known activity as an “old National Socialist fighter”, from whom a radical political appearance was expected. In the course of his official activities as professor, dean and rector of the University of Munich, this assessment was assessed very differently by students, colleagues, the ministerial bureaucracy and the Nazi specialist organizations. All groups agreed on the personal characterization of Kölbl. According to the Nazi university officials, Kölbl was one of the “most popular university teachers” among colleagues and students because of his “kindness” and “good-naturedness”. Hans Wieseneder, a student of Kölbl, also emphasized his "personal charisma" in his obituary in 1970, his "youthful appearance full of humor, charm and unconditional devotion to his science": "As a teacher he was a unique appearance."

Due to this obliging personality, Kölbl, who was a staunch National Socialist and as a "deserved active National Socialist" had good connections to important party offices and the Ministry of Education, but on the other hand placed science above party dogma, managed to calm the area of ​​German universities for which he was responsible bring. In this sense, Kölbl was the ideal cast for the concept of the National Socialist university renewal. That is why Philipp Broemser (1886–1940), his successor as university rector, certified him after Kölbl was expelled from the NSDAP in 1939:

“That he had the right attitude towards the tasks that National Socialism set the universities in order to work in a leading position in solving them. It was also he who gathered a core team of National Socialist university lecturers from among the members of the Lecturer Association. "

On the other hand, after 1945 university colleagues who had not exposed themselves to National Socialism emphasized Kölbl's objective conduct of office and provided corresponding written statements, which were, however, drawn up as “ Persilscheine ” for Kölbl's denazification proceedings . Nobel laureate in chemistry Heinrich Wieland declared: "A rector from earlier times could not have exercised his office with greater objectivity and while fully safeguarding academic interests with more devotion." And the mathematician Oskar Perron said:

"As Professor Dr. L. Kölbl was entrusted with the representation of the geology professorship in Munich, contrary to the faculty vote, we had the worst fears. But Kölbl soon turned out to be a man who was much less accommodating to the Nazis than many a fearful man [...] As dean and rector, he made real services to the university and always used his influence in the Nazi ministries to ensure that the interests of science and damage prevented. "

In his declaration for Kölbl, the physicist Arnold Sommerfeld emphasized that he had "always represented the scientific point of view against the wishes of the party". Hans Wieseneder summed up in his obituary in 1970: “His art of leading people, his helpfulness and kindness were only surpassed in this difficult time by his unconditional commitment to freedom of teaching and research. Some colleagues owe it to him that they were able to pursue their scientific work in relative calm during this time. "

In fact, in 1937, for example, Kölbl campaigned vigorously but in vain for Werner Heisenberg's appointment . And Heinrich Wieland emphasized in his declaration from 1946 that Kölbl had no objections to the admission of “ half-Jews ”. On the other hand, however, there is evidence that Kölbl refused a Jewish trainee lawyer admission to a doctorate with reference to the “ Nuremberg Laws ”, although even these would have permitted an exceptional doctorate . The forced retirement of the Romanist Hans Rheinfelder (1898–1971), which was carried out with the help of Kölbl, leaves justified doubts about a purely professional management of his office. There is also clear evidence of the “dismissals during his term of office in the course of implementing the 'Nuremberg Laws' and the amendment of the German Civil Service Act of January 1937. Between 1936 and 1937, 40 professors and lecturers were forced out of the LMU in this way - the internal structural reform as well as the personal 'cleansing' were thus essentially completed ”.

Career break

When the appointment as rector of the University of Vienna was imminent, Kölbl was arrested on February 10, 1939 by the Gestapo in Munich on the charge of having committed "homosexual acts". He had been caught doing such acts in a public toilet. Kölbl, married since 1922 and the father of a daughter, admitted a large number of such offenses in recent years in subsequent interrogations. He was accused of "continued offenses of sexual immorality between men" (then § 175 ). At first they spoke of a "periodically occurring pathological disturbance of mental activity" and a "considerable weakening of his nerve power" and had Kölbl examined psychiatrically. During this time, Karl Haushofer, with the knowledge of the Gestapo, procured a weapon for the detainee so that he could end the affair by suicide , which Kölbl refused.

Kölbl, who confessed, was transferred to pre-trial detention at the end of February 1939, indicted before the Munich Regional Court and acquitted on June 1, 1940 in the first instance because of insanity. He was immediately expelled from the NSDAP and SA. He left the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 1939. His teaching activities at the university had been suspended since 1939 due to his imprisonment, and in 1940 he was replaced as director of the Geological Institute and the State Geological Collection. As President of the German Academy, he was replaced in March 1939 by the Bavarian NSDAP Prime Minister Ludwig Siebert .

The Reich Ministry of Justice immediately appealed against the acquittal, while Kölbl was temporarily released from custody. In October 1940 the Reichsgericht overturned the judgment and referred the proceedings back to the Munich Regional Court, which sentenced Kölbl, who had since undergone therapy with Ernst Kretschmer in Marburg, to 27 months in prison on August 21, 1941, of which he was still 12 Months to serve. This ended his academic career for good. Kölbl worked briefly for the Reich Research Council. In 1943 he returned to Austria and worked for the oil production company in Vienna.

After 1945

Kölbl was initially interned from August 1945 to July 1946. In December 1949 he was sentenced by the Vienna People's Court for his Nazi activities in Austria to 15 months of “heavy and aggravated prison” for “high treason”, but the sentence was suspended in January 1950 to three years probation.

As a result, Kölbl initially worked for the Soviet Mineral Oil Administration in Austria, for which he carried out mapping and structural geological work. When the oil companies were transferred to Austrian administration after the conclusion of the State Treaty in 1955 , he worked in their geological department until he retired.

Kölbl died at the age of 75. The urn with his ashes was buried in the family crypt in Vienna's central cemetery.

Classification as a geologist

At the beginning of his scientific career, Kölbl dealt with the crystalline geology of the Moravian-Moldanubian zones in Lower Austria , their Sudeten continuation and the geology of the Tauern Mountains . He later expanded his research area to include sediment petrography . According to Wieseneder Kölbls, studies on the processing of fluvial and aeolian sediments are of “lasting scientific value” . From 1941 onwards, Kölbl was primarily concerned with geological-sedimentological statistical studies of Austria. After 1945, questions of oil production , in particular prospection and the geochemistry of the reservoir water, were the focus.

For the natural science historian Litten, Kölbl was "not an outstanding geologist, but a very capable one". The Kölbl student Hans Wieseneder , on the other hand, describes him in 1970 as an “original scientific personality with ingenious features”.

Not least due to his interrupted university career, no textbooks or specialist books were published by Kölbl. A detailed list of his scientific publications can be found in Wieseneder's obituary from 1970.


  • Michael Grüttner : Biographical Lexicon on National Socialist Science Policy (= Studies on Science and University History. Volume 6). Synchron, Heidelberg 2004, ISBN 3-935025-68-8 , p. 95.
  • Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM. International journal for the history and ethics of science, technology and medicine. Neue Serie 11 (2003), pp. 34–46. ( PDF )
  • Hans Wieseneder : In memoriam Leopold Kölbl 1895–1970. In: Sedimentary Geology 6 (1971), Heft 1, pp. 1f.
  • Hans Wieseneder: Leopold Kölbl. In: Mitteilungen der Geologische Gesellschaft in Wien 63 (1970), pp. 217–221. (with bibliography ) ( PDF )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Hans Wieseneder: Leopold Kölbl. In: Mitteilungen der Geologische Gesellschaft in Wien 63 (1970), pp. 217–221.
  2. cf. Leopold Kölbl: The life's work of Franz Eduard Sueß. In: Mitteilungen der Geologische Gesellschaft in Wien 60 (1967), pp. 5–12 ( PDF ).
  3. L. Waldmann: In memory of Alfred Himmelbauer. In: Mitteilungen der Geologische Gesellschaft in Wien 36–38 (1943–45), pp. 295f. ( PDF ).
  4. ^ Paulus Ebner: Politics and University. The University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences 1914–1955. Vienna 2002, p. 100.
  5. a b c d e f g Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM NS 11 (2003), pp. 34-46.
  6. a b Paulus Ebner: History of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences from its beginnings to 1934. Discussion paper No. 49-R-95. Institute for Economics, Politics and Law. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, November 1995, p. 34f. ( PDF ).
  7. a b c d Report from the Reichsdozentenführer Walter Schultze v. September 24, 1938; quoted n. Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM NS 11 (2003), p. 35f.
  8. Eckard Michels : From the German Academy to the Goethe Institute. Language and foreign cultural policy 1923–1960. Munich 2005, p. 120.
  9. ^ Letter from the Gaudozentenbundführer Wilhelm Führer v. September 30, 1938; quoted after Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM NS 11 (2003), p. 36.
  10. Helmut Böhm: From self-administration to the leader principle. The University of Munich in the first years of the Third Reich (1933–1936). Berlin 1995, p. 539f.
  11. Broemser declaration 1939; quoted after Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM NS 11 (2003), p. 36.
  12. a b Declaration by Wieland v. January 25, 1946; quoted after Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM NS 11 (2003), p. 40.
  13. Explanation Perron v. April 10, 1946; quoted after Freddy Litten: The "merits" of a rector in the Third Reich. Views of the geologist Leopold Kölbl in Munich. In: NTM NS 11 (2003), p. 39f.
  14. ^ Deutsches Museum München: Archive NL 89, 020, folder 8.3 ( facsimile ( Memento from April 27, 2005 in the Internet Archive )).
  15. Stefanie Harrecker: Degraded Doctors. The revocation of the doctorate at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich during the Nazi era. Munich 2007, p. 162; see also Heidi Aspaturian: Interview with Heinz A. Lowenstam (1988). California Institute of Technology Archives , Pasadena (Ca) 1991, pp. 27-31 ( PDF ).
  16. cf. Maximilianeum Foundation (publisher): 150 years of the Maximilianeum Foundation 1852–2002. Munich 2002.
  17. Christian Ritz: At the limits of scope. Heinrich Wieland and the “half-Jewish” students at the State Chemical Laboratory of the University of Munich. In: Sibylle Wieland, Anne-Barbara Hertkorn, Franziska Dunkel (eds.): Heinrich Wieland, natural scientist, Nobel Prize winner and Willstätters watch. Weinheim 2008, pp. 145–172, here: p. 157.
  18. Florian Georg Mildenberger: … spoiled in the direction of homosexuality. Psychiatrists, criminal psychologists and coroners on male homosexuality 1850–1970. Zugl .: Vienna, Univ., Habil.-Schr., 2002. MännerschwarmSkript-Verl., Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3 935596 15 4 , pp. 205f.
  19. Stefanie Albrecht: Prof. Dr. Hans Jöchle (1892–1968) - A life for the shoeing. Dissertation at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover 2006, p. 182.
  20. ^ Hans Adolf Jacobsen: Karl Haushofer. Life and work. Volume 1: Life Path 1869–1946 and selected texts on geopolitics. Boppard am Rein 1979, p. 409; Steffen R. Kathe: cultural policy at any price. The history of the Goethe Institute 1951 to 1990. Munich 2005, p. 75.
  21. Mildenberger, Direction , p. 206.
  22. Dr. Leopold Kölbl , member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences .
  23. Prof. Dr. Leopold Kölbl (short vita) on the website of the Faculty of Geosciences at the University of Munich.
  24. ^ Prime Minister Siebert President of the German Academy. In: Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung v. March 25, 1939 ( Facsimile  ( 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. In the HWWA ).@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / webopac0.hwwa.de  
  25. Mildenberger, Direction , pp. 207f.
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