Margaret of Wrangell

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Margaret von Wrangell, 1905
Signature 1929

Margarete Baronesse von Wrangell , since 1928: Princess Andronikow (born January 7, 1877 in Moscow ; † March 21, 1932 in Hohenheim ) was a German agricultural chemist and the first full professor at a German university with Baltic German descent.

Teaching and study time

Margarete von Wrangell was a daughter of the Russian general Baron Karl Fabian von Wrangel (1839-1899) and his distant relative, who was married to him, Baroness von Wrangel (1843-1927). Her father came from the long-established German-Baltic aristocratic family Wrangel . Because of her father's transfers, Margarete spent her childhood in Moscow and Ufa , later in Reval (today: Tallinn ), where she attended a German-speaking teacher’s school. There, her talent for mathematics and the natural sciences was revealed . She graduated from this school in 1894 with a teaching diploma and distinction. She then gave private science lessons for several years. She also engaged in painting and wrote short stories. Attending a botany course at Greifswald University in 1903 was the turning point in her life. From spring 1904 she was one of the first students to study natural sciences at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen and in Leipzig, and in 1909 she received her doctorate summa cum laude in chemistry from the University of Tübingen . The topic of her dissertation was: Isomerism phenomena in formylglutaconic acid ester and its bromine derivatives .

This was followed by scientific training and traveling years: In 1909 she worked as an assistant at the Agricultural Research Station in Tartu , 1910, she participated in the works of William Ramsay in London in the field of radioactivity , 1911, she was an assistant at the Institute of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry at at the Kaiser Wilhelm University of Strasbourg and in 1912 she worked for several months at Maria Skłodowska-Curie in Paris . At the end of 1912 she took over the management of the test station of the Estonian Agricultural Association in Tallinn . Their main task here was the control of seeds , feed and fertilizers . In the course of the Russian October Revolution , her institute was closed, she herself was arrested by the Bolsheviks , but in the spring of 1918 she was liberated by the German soldiers and she left for Germany forever .

Research services

From the summer of 1918 Margarete von Wrangell worked at the Agricultural Research Station in Hohenheim, and from 1920 as the head of the newly established Institute for Plant Nutrition . Her first scientific experiments were concerned with the behavior of phosphoric acid in the soil. 1920 habilitation them at the Agricultural University of Hohenheim with a thesis on phosphoric acid intake and ground reaction . In her experiments she had observed that some plant species, when physiologically acidic fertilizers are also present, can relatively easily convert the poorly soluble soil phosphates into compounds that are available to plants. Based on this knowledge, Friedrich Aereboe developed the Aereboe-Wrangell fertilization system , which should make German agriculture largely independent of imported rock phosphates. Through the propagation of this fertilization system, which led to a heated debate among agricultural chemists, the name Margarete von Wrangell became known far beyond the boundaries of her specialist field.

In 1922 Fritz Haber , who had developed the large-scale synthesis of ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen at the Physico-Chemical Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in Berlin during the First World War , became aware of Margarete von Wrangell. He tried to win her as a permanent employee for his institute. Wrangell worked in Berlin for a year, but then went back to Hohenheim. In 1923 - against the resistance of some Hohenheim professors - she was appointed full professor for plant nutrition at the Hohenheim Agricultural University. With financial support from the Reich government , it received its own institute for plant nutrition with laboratories and a test field. She headed this institute until her death. The relationship with her male colleagues was ambivalent: some accused her of arrogance, others admired her humor, self-irony and friendliness.

During this time Margarete von Wrangell developed a fruitful teaching and research activity. Her experimental activities continued to focus on work on the problem of phosphate fertilization, especially methodical studies to determine the proportion of soil phosphates available to plants. She led 16 doctoral students to doctorate. In addition to her independent writings, she has published overview articles in handbooks, numerous articles in specialist journals and several practice-oriented papers. Her work as editor of the work Die Düngerlehre by the leading Soviet agricultural scientist Dmitri Nikolajewitsch Prjanischnikow was commendable for German agricultural science . But she was also involved in the German Association of Women Academics .

In 1928 she married her childhood friend, Prince Vladimir Andronikov. At that time it was not yet allowed in Germany for female professors to be married, but an exception was made for them. Five years later, at the age of 55, she died of kidney disease. The researcher's scientific motto is recorded on a memorial stone erected in 1934 on the site of her Hohenheim Institute: “I lived with plants. I put my ear to the ground and it seemed to me that the plants were happy to be able to tell something about the secrets of growth ” .


Outside the professional world, Margarete von Wrangell's life and her scientific work became known primarily through the biography of Margarethe von Wrangell, which appeared after her death . The Life of a Woman 1876–1932. Illustrated from diaries, letters and memories by Prince Vladimir Andronikov . The book was first published in 1935 and had several editions.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, Margarete von Wrangell was initially “rediscovered” by women's rights activists. In the meantime, her extraordinary life has made her a central figure in modern women's and gender studies . Since 1970 various aspects of her life and her social environment have been examined in detail in numerous publications. She has long been one of the outstanding pioneers of agriculture within the history of agricultural gender research. Two state funding institutions bear her name: A Margarethe-von-Wrangell-Stiftung e.V. founded in 1992 by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia . V. , which promotes cooperation between university affiliated institutes and medium-sized businesses, and a Margarete von Wrangell habilitation program for women launched by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science in 1997 , which promotes the habilitation of qualified female scientists.

Fonts (selection)

  • Isomeric phenomena in formylglutaconic acid ester and its bromine derivatives , dissertation 1909, digitized version, entry page with link to pdf, , September 7, 2015
  • Phosphoric acid uptake and soil reaction . Publishing bookstore Paul Parey Berlin 1920. Additional: Habilitation thesis Agricultural University of Hohenheim 1920.
  • Laws of the phosphoric acid nutrition of the plant . Paul Parey publishing house, Berlin 1922.
  • The fertilizer doctrine . By DN Prjanischnikow. Professor at the Moscow Agricultural University. After the fifth Russian edition edited by M. von Wrangell. Paul Parey publishing house, Berlin 1923.
  • Nutrition and fertilization of plants . In: Handbook of Agriculture . Edited by F. Aereboe, J. Hansen and Th. Roemer. Paul Parey publishing house, Berlin 1929, Vol. 2, pp. 295–396.
  • Autobiography , in: Elga Kern (Hrsg.): Leading women in Europe . Munich 1999 [1928], pp. 183-193

Notes / references

  1. Her first name is spelled differently in the literature: She always wrote Margarete von Wrangell herself; Her name is also engraved on the memorial stone dedicated to her in Hohenheim. Through the biography that appeared after her death, she became known as Margarethe von Wrangell .
  2. ^ Otto Magnus von Stackelberg: Genealogical manual of the Estonian knighthood . Vol. 1, Göritz 1931, p. 592.
  3. Margarethe von Wrangell Foundation eV ( Memento of the original from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Margarete von Wrangell Habilitation Program for Women


  • O. Nolte: Professor M. Andronikow-v. Wrangell † . In: “Die Phosphorsäure”, Vol. 2, 1932, pp. 193–195 (with picture).
  • Adolf Mayer: Margarete von Wrangell, Princess Andronikow. † March 31, 1932 in Stuttgart . In: Die Naturwissenschaften , Vol. 22, 1932, pp. 322-324.
  • Margarethe von Wrangell. The Life of a Woman 1876–1932. Illustrated from diaries, letters and memories by Prince Vladimir Andronikov . Albert Langen / Georg Müller Verlag, Munich 1935; several editions, including Deuerlichsche Buchhandlung Göttingen 1950 (numerous photos).
  • Theodor Heuss : Margarethe von Wrangell 1877–1932 . In: German figures. Studies of the 19th Century . 3. Edition. Verlag R. Wunderlich, Stuttgart 1951, pp. 479-486.
  • Ingeborg von Hubatius-Himmelstjerna: Daisy. From the life of a great woman and researcher. Margarethe von Wrangell . Publishing house Ensslin & Laiblin, Reutlingen 1957.
  • Ruth Reichelt: Margarethe von Wrangell. Your life and work . In: Hauswirtschaftliche Bildung , Jg. 48, 1974, pp. 182-190 (with a list of their scientific publications).
  • Renate Feyl : Margarethe von Wrangell. 1877-1932 . In: The silent departure. Women in science . Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin 1981, 2nd edition 1982, pp. 166–177.
  • Erna Hruschka: Margarete von Wrangell . In: Mitteilungsblatt des Deutschen Akademikerinnenbundes , vol. 63, 1983, pp. 11–21.
  • Carla Kramer-Schlette: Margarethe von Wrangell, married Princess Andronikow. Professor of Agricultural Chemistry. 1877-1932 . In: Lebensbilder from Swabia and Franconia , Vol. 15, 1983, pp. 405-431 (list of publications and picture).
  • Maja Riepl-Schmidt : The blue-blooded professor - Margarete (Daisy) von Wrangell, Princess Andronikow . In: Maja Riepl-Schmidt: Against the boiled over and ironed-out life: women's emancipation in Stuttgart since 1800 . Silberburg-Verlag , Stuttgart 1990, pp. 213-221.
  • Ulrich Fellmeth : Margarete von Wrangell - the first Ordinaria in Germany . In: Hohenheim themes. Journal for cultural studies topics . Edited by U. Fellmeth and H. Winkel, Jg. 7, 1998, pp. 3-26. Special tape. Sripta Mercaturae Verlag, St. Katharinen 1998.
  • Mathilde Schmitt: Margarethe von Wrangell . In: Pioneers of Agriculture . Edited by Heide Inhetveen and Mathilde Schmitt. Heydorn Verlag, Uetersen 2000, pp. 75–79 (with picture).
  • Hans-Peter Blume and Loit Raintam: The Importance of Margarete von Wrangell for Agricultural Chemistry . In: Hohenheimer Bodenkundliche Hefte , Heft 83, 2007, pp. 95–123 (On the history of soil science, edited by Hans-Peter Blume & Karl Stahr) (with picture and list of publications).
  • Sonja M. Schwarzl, Wiebke Wunderlich: For example: Margarete von Wrangell. In: News from chemistry . 49, 2001, pp. 824-825, doi : 10.1002 / nadc.20010490628 .

Web links

Commons : Margarete von Wrangell  - Collection of images, videos and audio files