Wittenburg Pavel Vladimirovich 
(09.02.1884–29.01.1968)


An outstanding Soviet geographer, geologist, arctic researcher, professor, honorary polar explorer. 
Born in Vladivostok, in a large family of a political exile, punished for participating in the Polish uprising of 1862–1863. German, Swedish, Polish blood flowed in Wittenburg’s veins, but, being born and living in Russia, he considered himself a Russian person and she, Russia, sought to give all his remarkable strengths and capabilities. 
After his father died in 1899, his mother sent her son to continue her studies in Libau, where one of his older sisters lived with her family. The voyage to Odessa made an indelible impression on the boy and in many ways, according to him, contributed to the further choice of a geographer-researcher. After graduating from a real school with honors in 1905, Pavel entered the Riga Polytechnic Institute, but it was not possible to study there - because of student unrest, the classes stopped. Then he went to Germany and chose the University of Tübingen, famous for its well-organized training in natural history. In 1908, as a reward for good studies, he was sent to the Ussuri region to collect geological material. 
After graduating from the university in 1909 with a doctorate degree in natural sciences, Wittenburg returned to Russia, to St. Petersburg, where he became involved in active research work, taking part in field trips of the Geological Committee,
Imperial Russian Geographical Society, Russian Academy of Sciences in various regions of Russia. For research in the Far East, the Society for the Study of the Amur Territory (Branch of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society) awarded him in 1912 the  Prize of Honor F.F. Busse, founded in 1900 for his works on natural history, geological research of the region, on local archeology and the study of life and the needs of the population. The prize was awarded three times. In addition to Wittenburg, it was honored by geologist A.M.Ossendovsky in 1907 and archaeologist A.P. Okladnikov in 1959. In 1917, for the monograph "Geological description of the Muravyev-Amursky peninsula and the Imp. archipelago  the empress Eugenia”. Academy of Sciences awarded Wittenburg the Small Prize named after M.N. Akhmatov, Privy Counselor, who bequeathed his capital to the Academy of Sciences in Kazan in 1885, to the Kazan University and the savings and loan fund for peasants in the village of Nagolovo. Under the terms of the will, the prize was awarded "for original essays on all branches of knowledge and elegant literature written by Russian subjects in Russian". 

Wittenburg's first acquaintance with the Arctic took place in 1913, when he and R.L. Samoilovich studied the geology of West Spitsbergen. Then, in the period 1918-1920.followed by two expeditions to Northern Murman, in 1921, he, together with Samoylovich, participated in the expedition of the Academy of Sciences and the Northern scientific and fishing expedition to Novaya Zemlya. The results of his multifaceted activities Wittenburg published in numerous articles and monographs, his name became known in the circles of not only Russian, but also foreign scientific community. The range of scientific names with which Wittenburg was either personally acquainted or communicated by correspondence impresses.  Here A.P. Karpinsky, A.E. Fersman, L.S. Berg, M.E. Zhdanko, A.A. Bunge, A.A. Byalynitsky-Birulya, K.M. Deryugin, N.M. Knipovich, R.L. Samoilovich, F. Nansen, O. Sverdrup, S. Rabo and many others. The abilities of Wittenburg manifested themselves not only as a scientist, but also as an organizer of science and a teacher. He participated in the creation of the Permanent Polar Commission of the Academy of Sciences, the Higher Geographical Courses, and on the basis of their Geographical Institute, where he taught the courses “Geology and Geography of the Polar Countries” and “History of the Study of the Polar Countries”. Making himself a priority geological and geographical study of the Arctic region, fully consistent with his desire to learn new, unknown, Wittenburg organized in the Geographical Institute, the Department of Geography of the Polar countries. He gave lectures at the Hydrometeorological courses, a lot of time and effort was occupied by the duties of the senior scientist-keeper of the Geological Museum and its management. 
Wittenburg's outstanding professional talents happily combined in him with amazing human qualities. He was a deeply decent, intelligent person, devoted to his family, attracting people to himself, surrounded by friends, always ready to help, a lover and connoisseur of art, handsome in all respects. His wife Zinaida Ivanovna, with whom they lived 53 years, was also a match for him. And in non-professional activities, wonderful people surrounded him and his family in different years. The circle of their friends included the writer KI. Chukovsky, artist and architect A.N. Benoit, the family of the linguist of the corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences, D.V.Bubriha, artists A.A. Gennert, P.M. Wild, B.V. Pestinsky, Z.E. Serebryakova, daughter of the great actress M.N. Ermolova M.N. Zelenina, writer T.L. Schepkina-Kupernik, Chairman of the All-Russian Theater Society P.E. Armless, Rear Admiral, hydrograph E.E. 
Shwede and many others.

 

Autograph O.Yu. Schmidt on the piano P.V. Wittenburg

(photo from the archive of P.V. Wittenburg)


Wittenburg led a great, as they would say now, social work. He was elected chairman of the Lakhta volost zemstvo, worked on the creation of a full secondary school in the village of Olgino, was one of the main organizers of the Lakhta sightseeing station and the nature museum of the northern coast of the Neva Bay. 
Wittenburg was one of the leading employees of the Geological Museum, headed by A.A. Borisyak. In 1924, the museum had three departments: geology, paleontology and petrography, and independent collections: Siberian, North Dvina and Central Asian. Wittenburg proposed to separate the geology of the Polar countries into an independent department, in which materials on the geology of the Arctic, and then of the Antarctic, would be presented. In 1925, the Physics and Mathematics Department of the Academy of Sciences, in charge of which the museum was located, approved the creation of a new department and appointed it head of Wittenburg. 
In 1925, at the request of the Government of Yakutia, the Academy of Sciences approved the establishment of the Commission for the Study of the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Wittenburg was appointed scientific secretary of the Commission, who held this post for the entire five-year term of the Commission’s work with its successive chairmen. According to the recollections of the employee of the Commission R.F. Hecker "Pavel Vladimirovich was the organizing soul of this large and complex undertaking ... It would have been difficult to find a better secretary, and, I think, if Pavel Vladimirovich were not, the work of the  expeditions would not have received such scope and would not bring so much benefit". 
Wittenburg opened wide prospects, an interesting, rich, creative life for the benefit of the Motherland. But, as often happened at that time, everything collapsed overnight.In 1930, in the so-called "case of the Academy of Sciences," he was arrested. The investigation lasted 10 months. After humiliating, painful interrogations, threats of sanctions against his wife and children, Wittenburg signed the accusations of counter-revolutionary activities dictated by the investigator. The verdict - the confiscation of property and execution. The highest measure was replaced by imprisonment in the camp for 10 years. He and his family began another life. 
Wittenburg was first identified by workers for the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal, and then fate "smiled" at him - he was selected to work in a specialty in the Arctic. On the island of Vaigach, a camp was created called the Vaigach Expedition of the OGPU, where geologists, topographers, and miners were required. The expedition was to engage in the exploration and development of polymetallic ores. Wittenburg was appointed mine geologist, then head of the geological part and the senior geologist of the expedition. His active creative nature manifested itself in the conclusion. Wittenburg began training new geological personnel by organizing collector courses. Some of his camp students after liberation linked their lives with geology.

 

July 1933. Varneka Bay

(photo from the archive of P.V. Wittenburg)

1937 Wittenburg and kayur Kuznetsov on about. Hercules at the pillar,

by expedition V.A. Rusanov

(photo from the archive of P.V. Wittenburg)

1936 Icebreaker ship "Sibiryakov" in the ice of the Kara Sea

(photo from the archive of P.V. Wittenburg)

Icebreaker "Yermak" displays Icebreaker ship "Sibiryakov" from the ice of the Kara Sea

(photo from the archive of P.V. Wittenburg)


Wittenburg completely plunged into his favorite geological work. Surveys of the Vaigach expedition gradually spread to the mainland in the area of Amderma. A geological map of the island and the adjacent Yugorsky Peninsula and a report on the ore deposits of the region later, in 1940, were published as a monograph. 
Under the conditions of the Arctic, the term of imprisonment was counted at the rate of a day for two, and in the summer of 1935 Wittenburg received a certificate of release. What would most people do in his place? Of course, I would immediately go home. Wittenburg, on the other hand, considered it necessary to complete the planned studies, and therefore, as a civilian, he entered into an agreement with the Main Geological Department of Glavsevmorput, which took over this work, and went to the north of Vaigach. To the question: "Do you really want to go to the tundra?" He replied: "If necessary, I want to". 
In 1936, at the request of the President of the Academy of Sciences, a criminal record was removed from Wittenburg. 
In the same year he was offered to lead a geological expedition to Severnaya Zemlya in the vicinity of Cape Olovyannogo to Pr. Shokalsky. Exploring the Northern Earth was Wittenburg's long-time dream. However, the Sibiriakov crew was unable, due to heavy ice, to break through to the designated place, and the work of the expedition was moved to the north-west coast of Taimyr. During the years 1936-1938. under the most difficult conditions, a geological survey was carried out, deposits of mica, garnet and pyrite were explored, and a geological map of the Khariton Laptev coast was compiled. According to the results of these works, in 1941 Wittenburg published a monograph "Geology and minerals of the North-Western part of the Taimyr Peninsula". 
During the war years, Wittenburg continued active industrial, scientific and pedagogical activities in Arkhangelsk, Syktyvkar, Ukhta, Vorkuta, in the Northern Urals. 
Wittenburg also managed to do much in the postwar years. He was a full-time professor at Higher Arctic Marine School of. S.O. Makarov, a freelance professor at the Faculty of Geography at Leningrad State University, and participated in expeditions to Vaigach and Amderma. In 1947, he organized the Department of Physical Geography of the Arctic, led the cadets scientific society, read popular science lectures, and defended his thesis for the degree of Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences (1946) on the book Ore deposits of Vaigach Island and Amderma. In 1960, he finally managed to publish the book “The Life and Scientific Work of  E.V. Toll”, to which he was treated with the deepest respect. 
But all this enormous amount of work done by Wittenburg could not be compared with what he could have done in accordance with his potential, with the scale of his personality. Lost in prison, there was no time to return to the war. A lot of effort was spent on organizing life, knocking out housing, overcoming bureaucratic malevolence.Contacts with the international scientific community were not available to him. Yes, and the forces were not the same, age took his. In 1962, his beloved Zinaida Ivanovna died. Left alone, he did not give up, being a retired worked on the second and then the third edition of the "Practical Guide for geotechnical technicians." But his days were numbered. 
He died of pneumonia and was buried at the Zelenogorsk cemetery near St. Petersburg. 
The fate of Wittenburg is surprisingly similar to the fate of his colleague M.M. Ermolaev. 
Mountain on the island of West Svalbard. Named in 1913 by the Norwegian expedition. 
Cape in the south of the island of Lee-Smith in the archipelago of Franz Josef Land. Named by Soviet cartographers in the 1930s.

 

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