Alfred Wegener is considered one of the most prominent and most influential European polar researchers. Especially his expeditions to Greenland brought him fame even amongst the Danish community. Now, his diaries of his first Greenland expedition 1906 – 08 have been published. A specialty of the publication are the 70 hand-drawn sketches which were digitally re-mastered with great care. Dr. Reinhard Krause added explanatory comments to the publication.

German polar explorer Alfred Wegener undertook 4 expeditions to Greenland. He probably died in November 1930 on a tour on the ice sheet. His diary from that expedition has been lost. Picture: AWI
German polar explorer Alfred Wegener undertook 4 expeditions to Greenland. He probably died in November 1930 on a tour on the ice sheet. His diary from that expedition has been lost. Picture: AWI

The scientific historian Dr. Reinhard Krause has published a new issue of the diaries of Alfred Wegener, the namesake of the Helmholtz Center for Polar- and Marine Research. The diaries were written from 1906 to 1908. They take the reader on a Danish expedition with Greenland explorer Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen to Northeast Greenland. Reinhard Krause also added some explanatory comments to the published diaries. They are now published in the German “Berichte zur Polar- und Meeresforschung – Reports on Polar and Marine Research” and are publicly available.

The Danmark expedition 1906 – 08 aimed at mapping the last unknown parts of Northeast Greenland. Wegener (back, 2. Right) constructed the first meteorological station on Greenland. Picture: Martin Johannes Knudstrup
The Danmark expedition 1906 – 08 aimed at mapping the last unknown parts of Northeast Greenland. Wegener (back, 2. Right) constructed the first meteorological station on Greenland. Picture: Martin Johannes Knudstrup

Wegener’s research on the atmosphere of the High Arctic was pioneer work, according to Reinhard Krause. He sees the expedition connected to the changes and spirit of optimism of the expressionism. “These were expeditions with visions and illusions”, says Krause. A specialty of the new issue are the 70 hand-drawn sketches from Wegener’s diaries, which were digitally re-mastered with great care. In a differentiated introduction, Reinhard Krause classifies the expedition, which is considered one of lesser importance, in its historical context and builds a bridge up the present. For example the mutual activities of the AWI and the French Institut Polaire Francais Paul Emile Victor in the joint station Koldewey in Ny Alesund are based on Wegeners work.

The book was financed by the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg and the AWI. The diaries themselves were provided by the German Museum in Munich while the Danish Arktisk Institut in Copenhagen provided sources and photos of the expedition.

This picture is the last known photography of Alfred Wegener (left) in 1930. He died on a tour with Rasmus Villumsen (right) who also perished and with him the diaries of this last expedition. Picture: AWI
This picture is the last known photography of Alfred Wegener (left) in 1930. He died on a tour with Rasmus Villumsen (right) who also perished and with him the diaries of this last expedition. Picture: AWI

Source: Alfred-Wegener-Institute