Preamble

Following the advent of the National Socialist regime in the year 1938, more than 2,700 mostly Jewish affiliates of the University of Vienna were dismissed and subsequently driven away and/or murdered - lecturers, students and administration employees. Furthermore, over 200 people were stripped of their academic titles.
In 2008, 70 years after the so-called "Anschluss" [annexation] and the pogroms of what came to be cynically called the "Kristallnacht" [Crystal Night], the University of Vienna commemorates this injustice and  ...

person

Otto Karl Josef Zdansky

  • Born: 11-28-1894
  • Faculty: Faculty of Philosophy
  • Category: deprivation of academic degree

Otto Karl Josef ZDANSKY, born in Vienna on November 28th, 1894, studied civil engineering at the Vienna High School of Technology from 1912 to 1914, had then been in military service in World War I, 1914-1918, and began to study zoology, botany, and paleobiology at the University of Vienna in fall term 1918/19. In the spring of 1920 he came to Sweden with a group of Viennese students, invited in a humanitarian action by the Union of Upsala students. Otto Zdansky was given the opportunity to work in the Department of Paleontology and besides the preparation of his Viennese doctoral theses on turtle skull bones, he was engaged in the preparation of Chinese bone fossils ("dragon bones"), which had been sent from China to Uppsala by the geologist J. G. Andersson in order to stimulate the financing of a larger excavation campaign in China

In the fall of 1920, Otto Zdansky returned to Vienna, where he successfully defended his dissertation and on March 21st, 1921, earned the academic degree of "Dr. phil." in paleontology at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Vienna. (dissertation: "On the temporal region of the turtle skull" ("Ueber die Temporalregion des Schildkroetenschaedels"), supervisors: Prof. Othenio Abel and Prof. Carl Diener).

After receiving his doctorate, Zdansky was invited by Professor Wiman from Uppsala to go to China for the three-year Swedish excavation campaign to provide scientific support for the excavation and to scientifically determine the excavation findings - an unpaid but scientifically interesting task. Thus, beginning in 1921, Zdansky directed the excavations of the Geological Institute of China in the Lower Cave of Zhoukoudian, where several skulls of 400.000 to 500.000-year-old fossils of the genus Homo were uncovered in the late 1920s. As an assistant to Johan Gunnar Andersson, he discovered the first fossil tooth of the "Peking Man" at Zhoukoudian in 1921, and another in 1926, both of which he described in the Bulletin of the Geological Survey, China, in 1927 as teeth of a fossil species of the genus Homo. Later they were categorized as Homo erectus.

After the end of the excavation, he worked in Uppsala (Sweden) as a technical assistant from 1924 to 1927, married Swedish Gerda Kristina Andersson in November 1927, and son Göran Otto was born in Uppsala on August 11th, 1929.
Otto Zdansky had already been appointed from 1927 as a lecturer, later as a professor of paleontology and paleoanthropology, at the Egyptian University in Cairo, where he remained until 1950.

During the Nazi era, when he was working as a professor in Cairo, he, his wife and his son were deprived of their German citizenship for racist reasons at the turn of the year 1940/41, whereupon he was also deprived of his doctoral degree at the University of Vienna in 1941, as he was considered "as a Jew unworthy of an academic degree from a German university" ("eines akademischen Grades einer deutschen Hochschule unwuerdig") by the National Socialists.
Only long years after the deprivation and very long after the end of National Socialism was his doctorate (posthumously) restored, the deprivation declared "null and void from the beginning" ("von Anfang an nichtig").

Otto Zdansky, however, was able to continue his academic career and in 1951 he returned from Egypt to Sweden, where he evaluated and processed his collections from the Zhoukoudian excavations at the Evolution Museum of Uppsala University.

Otto Zdansky died on December 26th, 1988 in Uppsala/Sweden.


Lit.: Archive of the University of Vienna, final examination files and protocoll ("Rigorosenakt und -protokoll") PH 4988, graduation registry ("Promotionsprotocoll PHIL 1921, rectorate GZ 1457 ex 1939/40 POSCH 2009, 275, 497f.; MORGAN/LUCAS 2002, 21-23; Pierre-François PUECH, Peking Man Teeth and Otto Zdansky.


Katharina Kniefacz and Herbert Posch


Dokumente

Otto Zdansky, curriculum vitae of 1921, file for final examination ("Rigorosenakt"), © Archive of the University of Vienna RigAkt PHIL 4988Otto Zdansky, curriculum vitae of 1...
Otto Zdansky, curriculum vitae of 1921, file for final examination ("Rigorosenakt"), © Archive of the University of Vienna RigAkt PHIL 4988Otto Zdansky, curriculum vitae of 1...
Otto Zdansky, expert opinion on dissertation, Prof. Othenio Abel, 1921, © Archive of the University of Vienna RigAkt PHIL 4988Otto Zdansky, expert opinion on dis...
Request for depromotion of Otto Zdansky, German ministry of education Berlin to rectorate University of Vienna, from November 1, 1940, © Archive of the University of Vienna RA GZ 1457 ex 1939/40Request for depromotion of Otto Zda...
Request for depromotion of Otto Zdansky, German ministry of education Berlin to rectorate University of Vienna, from November 1, 1940, © Archive of the University of Vienna RA GZ 1457 ex 1939/40Request for depromotion of Otto Zda...
Otto Zdansky (c) Museum of Natural History, Bulletin Nr. 19, 2002 [[http://web.archive.org/web/20110604152132/http://users.rcn.com/granger.nh.ultranet/bulletin/MorganLucas3.pdf]Otto Zdansky (c) Museum of Natural ...
Otto Zdansky, (c) Odile JacquinOtto Zdansky, (c) Odile Jacquin...



zuletzt aktualisiert am 01.05.2021

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