Englera 26

Abstract

Leimkugel, F.: Botanischer Zionismus – Otto Warburg (1859-1938) und die Anfänge institutionalisierter Naturwissenschaften in Erez Israel [Botanical Zionism – Otto Warburg (1859-1938) and the beginnings of institutionalized natural sciences in Erez Israel]. – Englera 26: 1-351. 2005.
 
The life and work of Otto Warburg is studied and set into the context of his time. In addition, his role in founding natural science institutions in Palestine is elucidated. Born in Hamburg, Warburg graduated from Strasburg University and travelled from 1885 to 1889 in Malesia bringing back a considerable collection of plant specimens later donated to the Royal Botanical Museum in Berlin. He published extensively on this expedition, notably on the plants of economic importance and subsequently became associated with Adolf Engler, contributing, e.g., the account of Pandanaceae to the series Das Pflanzenreich. Based permanently in Berlin, Warburg's interests shifted gradually to economic plants, in particular those of relevance for the colonies of the Deutsches Reich. He founded and edited the journal "Der Tropenpflanzer" and became deeply involved in colonial affairs arguing for a scientific approach in developing tropical agriculture. Through marriage Warburg had come into contact with Zionism and corresponded with, e.g., Theodor Herzl. Quickly he became a key figure of the so-called practical Zionism aiming at the support of settlers in Palestine, which effectively meant helping them to develop agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. In 1911 Warburg was elected president of the World Zionist Congress and remained in office until 1920. After the Deutsches Reich had lost its colonies and after the headquarters of Zionism had moved to England, Warburg devoted his activities more and more to establishing research institutions in Palestine. He became founding director of the Agricultural Experimental Station in Tel Aviv, which later developed into the Institute of Agriculture and Natural History, part of which subsequently integrated into the Faculty of Science of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Warburg was an important figure in university politics, in particular as mediator in the Magnes-Einstein controversy. He was also the founder of the botanical garden of the Hebrew University on Mt Scopus. Retired from his position in Jerusalem, Warburg died in Berlin in early 1938. A comprehensive list of Warburg's publications is included as well as those by two of his close collaborators, i.e. Aaron Aaronsohn, who had rediscovered Triticum dicoccoides, and Alexander Eig. In an Appendix the biographies of the founding generation of natural scientists in Erez Israel are added.

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