Libmonster ID: KZ-1550
Author(s) of the publication: Sergei FOKIN

by Sergei FOKIN, Dr. Sc.(Biol.), leading researcher of St. Petersburg State University

The small German town of Heidelberg with the ruins of a medieval castle is a scenic place lying at the foot of woody hills along the Neckar river. It is a proper background for the oldest university in Germany. During the winter and summer semesters the town streets livened up with many-colored caps, the mark of distinction for numerous student fellowships, and at night one could hear the gay dissonant singing of young people returning from festive merry-making. This is how Heidelberg, "the symbol of German romanticism", was remembered by zoologist Mikhail Novikov, who as a student saw this town first in the autumn of 1901. Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University attracted more and more Russian students and scientists as of the middle of the 19th century, and, according to Kliment Timiryazev, the renowned Russian plant physiologist and corresponding member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, it became a mecca for many of our compatriots.

From the time of the foundation of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1724) our scientists had been maintaining close ties with the German scientific community. Toward the beginning of the 19th century a major part of scientists in the zoological sciences were both ethnic Germans and Russians, successful as naturalists. Like embryologist and anatomist Kaspar Wolff (1734-1794), botanist and traveler Peter Pallas (1741-1811), embryologist and zoologist Karl Baer (1792-1876) and paleontologist Christian Pander (1794-1865), all full members of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. That was a time of experts with broad encyclopedic knowledge working as lone wolves at the Academy or at Moscow University, the only one in this country at that time.

From the early 19th century new universities were founded in such cities as Kazan (1804), Kharkov (1805), St. Petersburg (1819), Kiev (1834) and Novorossiisk (1865), which affected in many ways the development of national zoology. The emergence of a scientific community and scientific schools as a phenomenon on the basis of higher education establishments took place in the late eigh-teen-hundreds.

Congresses of natural scientists and physicians organized by a group of Moscow scientists headed by zoolo-

стр. 89

gist, rector of St. Petersburg University and the future corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences Karl Kessler (1815-1881) were important for consolidation and development of our scientific efforts in the field of biology. The first congress was held in St. Petersburg in late December 1867-early January 1868, though such proposals were submitted to the government much earlier by Kessler in 1856 and physiologist and the future Academician Filipp Ovsyannikov in 1860 (both were under the impression of visiting similar German congresses held from 1822 on).

By the end of the 1880s the German orientation among the relatively numerous Russian zoologists remained predominant as many of them preferred to study in Germany, and a large majority of those who devoted actually their life to science, even after graduation from Russian universities, went for training on probation abroad, above all to German colleagues. There was no language barrier at that time as all high school and university graduates knew German, an international language of the zoological scientific world in those days.

Heidelberg, Gottingen, Giessen, Leipzig, Munich and Tubingen were the centers of attraction for biologists in Germany at different times. From the mid-19th century Heidelberg University ranked first among them. Early in the 1860s about 10 percent of its students were our compatriots who came to work with individual professors. The University had a notable professorship at its disposal. The outstanding scientists came willingly there from other higher schools due to its long-standing renown, a well-organized teaching process and a picturesque location of the town proper. In different years the known German chemists Robert Bunsen, Ludwig Carius and Emil Erlenmeyer, physiologist and member of the

Petersburg Academy of Sciences Hermann Helmholtz, biochemist and member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Albrecht Kossel worked there. The foreign members of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences Heinrich Bronnand Karl Gegenbauer and also Heinrich Pagenstecher taught zoology there.

Many students and young specialists came to Germany not only for the sake of opportunity to study and work with European scientific men of genius. They were eager to use academic freedoms and, as a rule, first-rate laboratory facilities. The Zoological Institute of the University established largely by efforts of the major European protistologist and a foreign member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences from 1895 on Otto Butschli (1848-1920). He attracted most of our compatriots.

Butschli was born in Frankfurt am Main into a well-to-do merchant family in 1848. But he was not interested in commerce, instead he became famous in another sphere, namely, in the study of protozoa, first of all, infusoria. His pathway to science was, however, not straight and fast.

In 1864 Butschli got enrolled in the Polytechnic in Karlsruhe, in which he studied mainly mineralogy, chemistry and paleontology. In 1866 he moved to Heidelberg and worked with the famous Robert Bunsen, where he took soon a Ph.D. degree. Initially zoology was not his major. Not until he served one year in the army upon graduation from the University. He decided then to devote himself to this science and went to Leipzig in 1869 for training on probation under the famous parasitologist Rudolf Leuckart. However, the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871) forced him to break off his studies which he resumed after the war was over. In 1876 he was invited as assistant professor to Karlsruhe, and later, on the recommendation of the zoologist Karl Gegenbauer, he got a chair

стр. 90

at Heidelberg University, where he worked for 42 years to the end of his life.

His first work on zoology was devoted to a bee development (1870) and the next one to infusoria. The young scientist was distinguished by unusual productive capacity in science, only in 1871-1872 he published 9 works. In 1873, his monograph on free-moving nematodes was published, and two years later in his paper he gave a detailed description of mitosis, the most common method of animal cell division.

In his work of 1876 on fertilization features and nuclear reorganization during conjugation (sexual process) of infusoria Bütschli was the first to interprete accurately this phenomenon. For many consecutive years he dealt mainly with single-cell animals. The three-volume monograph "Protozoa" published in the series "Classes and Orders of the Animal Kingdom" in 1880-1889 became undoubtedly his principal work in this domain. According to the scientist, he spent 10 years, the best of his life, for its writing.

The study of the protozoa cell structure led Bütschli naturally to analysis of the cytoplasm organization that carried him away in the 1890s. His theory of the alveolate texture of the cell based on cytological observations and experiments in colloid chemistry held on for a long time.

The doors of the Zoological Institute founded by Bütschli were thrown open to students and researchers from all over Europe, Russia including. It is no mere chance that the testimonial on the occasion of the silver jubilee of his professorial activity (1903) was signed by 100 persons, a quarter of them our scientists and students. Besides, they presented their teacher with a separate felicitation, and both Moscow and St. Petersburg Universities elected him honorary member.

From 1896, on when one of Bütschli's first Russian pupils, the founder of the national protozoology and corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences Vladimir Shevyakov headed the zootomical study room of the St. Petersburg University. The number of Russian scientists who visited Heidelberg kept growing until World War I (1914-1918). Bütschli played host to visiting Russian researchers zoologists Nikolai Adelung (1857-1917), Vladimir Redikortsev (1873-1942), Yuliy Wagner (1865-1946), Pavel Spesivtsev (1866-1936), Academician Georgy Nadson (1867-1939), the founder of psy-choneuroimmunology Sergei Metalnikov (1870-1946), the creator of forest entomology Mikhail Rimsky-Korsakov (1873-1951), the pioneer of evolutionary histology Academician Alexei Zavarzin (1885-1945) and many others.

The Moscow school was represented in Heidelberg by the future rectors of Moscow State University Mikhail Novikov (1876-1965) and Alexei Tikhomirov (1850-1931) and one of the founders of experimental zoology, RAS Corresponding Member Nikolai Koltsov (1872-1940). The future professors of the Russian universities in Odessa, Tambov, Kharkov and Smolensk also studied and worked there. As many as 40 our compatriots were visiting researchers at Bütschli's in the first half of the 20th century. Without question, his pupils influenced the development of zoology in Russia and the training of personnel in this field. Besides, some of those who emigrated after the October Revolution of 1917 (Wagner, Metalnikov, Novikov, Chakhotin, Kasyanov, Spesivtsev and Borodin) extended the influence of the Heidelberg school also to other countries like France, Italy, Czechia and Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Sweden and the USA.

The 4-year curriculum included courses in zoology and comparative anatomy, botany, physiology, paleontol-

стр. 91

ogy, geology and chemistry. Bütschli lectured on the anatomy of invertebrates and vertebrates, and traced, according to Mikhail Novikov, every system of organs (organelles) from protozoa to mammals. His textbook "Lectures on Comparative Anatomy" based on this course was published in three parts in 1910, 1912 и 1920. The first part was translated into Russian by his pupil Sergei Chakhotin, who noted in the foreword: "Broad horizons and daring thoughts--this is what distinguishes Bütschli's lectures". "Wonderful in their clarity and completeness", they enchanted him. The professor spent most of his time in his Zoological Institute, where he was engaged far more willingly in practical work with students.

Chauvinism spreading in Germany on the eve of World War I was absolutely alien to Bütschli. He treated students equally regardless of nationality. The scientist praised Russians for their talents and could overcome certain carelessnes in work typical of many our compatriots by systematic organization of work and discipline. But being an exacting tutor he did not foist the teaching

стр. 92

material on his students, and consequently not all of them were involved with protozoology, his forte.

Intensive practicals held after the first year of the academic course claimed much attention. They dealt with the morphology of basic groups of animals (starting from protozoa) and took at least two semesters. Introduced by zoologist Rudolf Leuckart, such practicals were further developed by Butschli. They gained ground in other German universities, and through Russian students, also in Russia. Thereupon the undergraduates got down to their thesis (graduation work). For this purpose the professor approached twice his students daily and talked long to them. General seminars were held often in the laboratory. When Bütschli stated a problem he used a blackboard on which he pictured the line of his reasoning by colored chalk in the graphic form. Some student made a joke: "Having taken accurate notes of everything that was said by the privy councilor during his visit to the laboratory, one could cook up not a bad doctoral thesis."

Due to the efforts of Vladimir Shevyakov, who spent in Heidelberg seven years (including three years as assistant and assistant professor at Bütschli's Institute), the German system and organization of the teaching process were introduced successfully and developed in

стр. 93

St. Petersburg University that predetermined in many ways the flourishing of the Russian school of zoology of invertebrates in the first half of the 20th century.

Its origin and genesis have not been duly studied so far. Therefore, there are naked statements that the Petersburg (along with the Moscow) zoological school of late 19th-early 20th centuries dates back to the known anthropologist and zoologist, professor of Moscow University and corresponding member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences Anatoly Bogdanov (1835-1898). In my opinion, there is a closer connection between the Russian and German (Heidelberg) schools.

Certainly, the very notion "scientific school" needs some explanation. Obviously, it is based on a founder's phenomenon and connected with a place where respective work was carried out. As a rule, the founder did not pick his pupils, on the contrary, they sought him and came themselves as they conceived his strong mind and the scope of his personality. In other words, apart from leadership he was to possess also extraordinary moral qualities enabling him to create a team of like-minded persons. All that was undoubtedly typical of Butschli's zoological school, and its impact on the development of this science in our country (in St. Petersburg and elsewhere) at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries cannot be underestimated.

The old building put up in 1893-1894, in which Bütschli worked, has not been there for above 40 years. The Zoological Institute and the Museum of Heidelberg University are located now in the "new town", on the other side of the Neckar. The only place where one can visualize what the former mecca looked like within is in Russia, at the Chair of Invertebrate Zoology of St. Petersburg University. From 1871 to 1930 it was the Zootomical Study Room reorganized by Shevyakov in 1894-1897 after the image of the scientific laboratory of his German teacher. Restored in its original appearance by many generations of Russian zoologists, it is also a monument to the outstanding German scientist and teacher.

It is important to note that in our literature the only attempt so far to make a brief review of the origin and development of the Russian zoological school was undertaken by research fellow of the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University Georgy Lyubarsky, Cand. Sc. (Biol.) in his work "History of the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University. Ideas, People, Structures" (2009). Unfortunately, this work placed too much emphasis on the "ideological succession" and connection of most Petersburg zoologists of the time with the Moscow school of Bodganov through his pupil, professor and later (1920) Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Shimkevich. The author of this work wrote: " The Russian zoological school took its rise as a branch of the German zoological school". But he noted then: "In time it became isolated, which gives us a rare opportunity to consider the situation of ideological succession in a closed cultural and scientific tradition."

To dwell on the cultural and scientific isolation of Russia in the early nineteen-hundreds is to ignore historical reality. Actually only university graduates of the late 1920s were unable to be in touch with their foreign colleagues. Most professors who headed the chairs of zoology until the end of the 1930s got some experience from international communication before the October Revolution. We may conclude that the material cited in this article is sufficient to prove such fruitful contacts up until 1914. By the way, from 1911 to 1917 Shevyakov was assistant minister of public education, and the creation of a probation system for Russian university graduates sent abroad, first of all, to Germany was one of his merits in this office.

The author wishes to express gratitude to the workers of the Heidelberg University archives and to Klaus Hausmann and Armin Geus for their assistance in collecting the material for this paper.

The present article is written within the framework of the topic supported by grant No. 10-06-00124a of the Russian Foundation of Basic Research.


Permanent link to this publication:ÜTSCHLI-AND-HIS-RUSSIAN-STUDENTS

Similar publications: LKazakhstan LWorld Y G


Қазақстан ЖелідеContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

Sergei FOKIN, OTTO BÜTSCHLI AND HIS RUSSIAN STUDENTS // Astana: Digital Library of Kazakhstan (BIBLIO.KZ). Updated: 30.09.2021. URL:ÜTSCHLI-AND-HIS-RUSSIAN-STUDENTS (date of access: 02.03.2024).

Publication author(s) - Sergei FOKIN:

Sergei FOKIN → other publications, search: Libmonster KazakhstanLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Қазақстан Желіде
Астана, Kazakhstan
516 views rating
30.09.2021 (884 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
Yesterday · From Цеслан Бастанов
6 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
Catalog: Экономика 
8 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
Catalog: Экономика 
10 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
12 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
13 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
Catalog: История 
13 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
15 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
Catalog: Экономика 
15 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов
17 days ago · From Цеслан Бастанов

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

BIBLIO.KZ - Digital Library of Kazakhstan

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: KZ LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Digital Library of Kazakhstan ® All rights reserved.
2017-2024, BIBLIO.KZ is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of Kazakhstan


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android