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Family background and life of the anthropologist Gustav Schwalbe (1844-1916)

Gustav Schwalbe was the 1.8.1844 Born in Quedlinburg. His father, the physician Gustav Ferdinand, Albert died when Gustav was only two years old. No sooner had the family overcome this blow, was the next disaster. A fire at the 18.3.1849 brought the family to almost the entire I. So the family came from Caroline Swallow, the sister of the deceased under. After school decided to swallow a medical school record and he spent his first semester (Winter 1862/63) in Berlin, where his brother Bernhard studied natural sciences. In the summer 1863 He moved to Zurich in the winter 1863/64 to Bonn, where he remained until 1865 was. From the summer 1865 by April 1867 He was back in Berlin and lived there with his mother in the Möckernstrasse with his brother Bernard. It was at this time ordinary lecturer at the Royal Grammar School. At that time taught at the Charité Virchow, whether he ever met and swallow, is unfortunately not known. Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) was a very famous and influential practitioners. His political interest was also very large. In 1861 He was the founder of the "German Progressive Party". Also interested in archeology is very Virchow and accompanied Schliemann at Troy, whose expedition to Turkey.


Virchow was the founder of “Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory”. Swallow joined Virchow opposed the Neanderthal question. These had Virchow with the eyes of Pathology (his ancestral field) considered. Virchow rejected the Neadertaler two reasons as the type:

Firstly because he thought, He, on the other hand too many pathologies and, because he was of the opinion, one can not describe a type covered by a single individual. This is the softened view to the Fund, because at the beginning he saw the whole shape of the skull as pathological.

At the 25.5.1866 doctorate at the University of swallow in Berlin with a thesis on the contractile vacuoles of “Infusorien” (The “Infusorien” or “Infusoria” are a now obsolete term for a small living creatures like amoebas, Flagellates, etc.. The term for this is in the aquarium where animals are used as fodder usual)

During that time considered to be a ship's doctor to swallow foreign countries and people to explore, as it had done his brother Carl. It can be assumed, that could have had a biography of his brother Gustav's impact on the thoughts. This was 1866 in part as a doctor at the German war, was a long time in hospital in Liberec (today: Liberec) work and after the war, he graduated in the winter 1866/67 his state examination. Then he finished his military service from May 1867 to March 1868 with the Royal Hussars at Bonn. Directly afterwards followed his time as a doctor in Amsterdam in “Kuehne” in the Physiological Institute.

His first discoveries were the senses of taste, which he “Schmeckbecher” called. After he had dealt with the taste receptor cells and muscle cells, He turned to another type of cell: the lymph. Schwalbe pointed out some crevices on the eye as demonstrated lymph channels and their relationship to other lymph spaces.

Of 1870 habilitation swallow at the University of Halle, because there was active at that time as a lecturer in anatomy. His career was interrupted by the outbreak of the Franco-German war, and so he went to Quedlinburg, and went with the local 7. Cuirassiers as a doctor in the war. Schwalbe wrote numerous letters to his family field, the last one is on the 12.4.1871 dated.

After the war was the summer semester swallow 1871 Prosector in Freiburg, while the article was written about the glands of the “Darmwandungen”. In October 1873 He went to his new position as associate professor and director of anatomy at Jena. There, he met Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (16.2.1834-9.8.1919) know, had a decisive influence on his academic development, because Haeckel addressed the question of the origin of man. He was a zoologist, Philosopher and freethinker, of the Work of Charles Darwin known in Germany and was expanded to a theory of evolution.

1883 Swallow was a full professor in Strasbourg, where he served as director of the anatomical institute his colleague Heinrich Waldeyer-Hartz (1836-1921), German anatomist and several times on the board of DGAEU replaced. (Waldeyer-Hartz see database) The Kaiser-Wilhelm University was 1872 founded. Gustav Schwalbe lived in Artilleriewallstr. 2, directly in the vicinity of the Institute. Here he lived for many years until he 1897 a stately home in the “German quarter” bought. This house in the “Avenue of the Black Forest” now houses the “Institute of Labour” (Labour Institute) the University of.

In Strasbourg devoted to swallow more and more anthropological topics, Perhaps because of the skull collection in Strasbourg. When he 1893 was elected for one year to the rector of the University, he said in his inaugural speech on the problems of physical anthropology. In Strasbourg he was an anatomical museum whose origins go 17. Century is, as 1670 an anatomical theater set up in an old chapel was. The publicly held there dissections, a spectacle, that in some cities were large crowds and learned, laid the foundation for the museum and its collection.

On his seventieth birthday (1.8.1914) was a big celebration planned. After the assassination of the Austria-Hungarian heir to the throne and his wife (28.6.) accused the First World War, however, has its shadow. At the 31.7. state of siege was declared and a few civilians were allowed to stay in Strasbourg. Before the next day, the 1.8.1914, Schwalbe's birthday and the day of declaration of war against Russia, left the city, still found in the morning instead of a celebration. The congratulation ceremony was printed in the newspaper and his honor was presented a commemorative.

At the 1. August was the war to Russia's mobilization on 30. July has been declared. France was at war 3. August says. But the first war dead from both France and the German Reich on the previous day, the 2. August, fell after a reconnaissance mission, German troops in France during Joncherey.

The First World War led to an increase in scientific circles nationalism, What is particularly extreme in Schwalbe's nephew Ernst expressed. Another example, the sharp rhetoric against England by Haeckel. Eighteen months after the outbreak of the war Schwalbe died quite unexpectedly in April 1916. On the afternoon of 22.4. he was overcome by severe respiratory distress and on the morning of 23.4. He died of heart failure. Three days later, Gustav Schwalbe to 12 Clock in Baden-Baden cremated. His grieving wife, Clara, died a few months later on 8.1.1917 in Hall. She was born on 11.1. in Leipzig, cremated and buried as her husband in the columbarium in Baden-Baden.

My interest was sparked years ago, for among the ancestors Schwalbe is also the family Liesegang find. Christian's great-grandfather, George the Younger (1.2.1730-12.2.1800) Rebecca was married to Christiane Schmidt (30.9..1746-30.1.1774) whose father Kaspar Gerhard (1702-1773) Mr. and tanner was brewing in Quedlinburg and Sophie had to wife Catharina Liesegang (1714-1798) The Liesegang had the tanneries on the Pölle in Quedlinburg and they came from Nordhausen. To this branch of the family also includes the Easter or General Superintendent John Liesegang, the 1616 was born in Quedlinburg. Unfortunately, the ancestors of Liesegang still very patchy, But I still hope to continue to bring additional information to me.

Gustav Schwalbe, there are numerous publications, they were by Mollison in the short biography book “Central German life images” 1926 listed. His best known work was for the “Neanderthal”. This article was originally published 1901 in the Bonn yearbooks. He had, however, for many years before working on this issue and defended his views on the Neanderthals in many publications.

Excerpt of his work

Textbook of Neurology, Band 2, 1881
About the caliber of nerve fibers relationships 1882
Textbook of anatomy of the sense organs 1886
On the Origin of the coat in mammals, 1895
On the anthropology of North American Indians, 1897
About the skulls of the oldest forms of human races with special reference to the skull of Dabo, 1897
Pithecanthropus Erectus studies 1899
About the specific features of the Neanderthal skull, 1901
The Neander skull 1901
The skull of Dabo, 1901
Neanderthal skull and skull Fries, 1902
On the topography of the cerebellum, 1902
About the history of man 1903
The position of man in the zoological system, 1904
The skin color of people, 1904
About bales, Lines and ridges of the hand
About dwarf breeds pygmies and their relations with the history of man, 1905
Theory of evolution and anthropology, 1905
The skull fragment of Canstatt, 1906
The skull of Nowosiólka, 1908
About fossil primates and their significance for the history of man, 1909
Contributions to the knowledge of the human stomach, 1912
About one in Ehringsdorf near Weimar made discovery of the prehistoric, 1914
The descent of man and the oldest forms of human, 1923

Short descriptions of some family members

Ancestor Jacob Swallow, Master tailor (24.9.1606-2.12.1679)
Georgius swallow, Hof-Diakon in Quedlinburg (16.8.1651-7.7.1710)
Johannes Praetorius, Rector des gymnasiums (23.5.1594-7.11.1682)
Christian George Swallow, royal physician, and from 1726 Mayor of the town (25.2.1691-15.8.1761)
Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben, Professor in Göttingen (22.6.1744-18.8.1777)
Dorothea Christiane Leporin, Daughter of the doctor and writer Christian Polycarp Leporin (13.11.1715-13.7.1762)
Clara Elisabeth Sophie Heine, Daughter of the professor of mathematics at Halle, Heinrich Eduard Simon Heine (8.12.1852-8.1.1917)
Anselma Tony Feodor Heine, Writer and poet (18.6.1855-9.11.1930)

It falls on, that many scholars in the family especially and particularly to find doctors. So that the family is sure to swallow Quedlinburger Bildungsbürgertum. For details you can find in the database.


Finally, I would like to thank Pierre Louis Blanchard for permission, Imagine to life excerpts from his Schwalbe below homework here to be allowed.


  • Blanchard, Pierre Louis, Household chores in order to obtain the Academic Degree of Master of Arts, submitted to the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz 2009
  • German sex book, Band 100, Page 289-300, C. A. Strong publishing, 65549 Dunfermline
  • Theodor Mollison: Gustav Albert Schwalbe, in: Central German life images, 1. Band images of life 19. Century, Magdeburg 1926, S. 397-411


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