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Chemical industries in the Habsburg monarchy in most cases were developed in connection with mining, brewing and metallurgical engineering. Many parts of Central Europe, which are today the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of Poland, Romania or Ukraine, were in the nineteenth century parts of the Austrian Empire. After 1848, and particularly in the Dual Monarchy after 1867, Hungary succeeded to develop independently.

Bohemia and Moravia (the Czech Lands) belonged economically and intellectually to the most developed part of the Empire, in which Czech- and German-speaking people lived. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the language of education was German in all institutions of higher learning but after 1869 a parallel polytechnic and in 1882 a parallel university were established in Prague, in which the language of education and research was Czech. As the German University in Prague and the German technical universities in Prague and Brno were closely integrated with all other Austrian institutions of higher learning (in Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, etc.) we consider the development of chemistry in these institutions, in which the language of instruction was German, as being part of the history of Austrian chemistry.

A considerable part of the rapidly developing chemical industry was owned or run by “Germans”, often with their headquarters in Vienna, and therefore we also consider the development of this industry as part of the history of Austrian chemistry. Most factories were located in Bohemia and Lower Austria and produced a variety of acids, bases and salts, inorganic and organic dyes. In the first half of the nineteenth century the development of industry was supported by the state and polytechnic institutes were founded in Prague (1805), Graz (1811), Vienna (1815) and Brno (Brünn, 1849). Chemical education relevant for the industrial employment of graduates was established in these new institutes. Parallel with the increasing industrial production of chemicals mainly for the textile industry and ignition products like matches the number of students of chemistry doubled between the 1830s and the 1840s. Little theoretical research relevant for the development of chemistry was carried out before 1848 in Austria, neither in the universities nor in technical institutes.2 Therefore, many chemists tried to finish their studies with a doctoral thesis abroad, mainly in Germany.

In the second half of the nineteenth century chemical education was modernized under the influence of Justus von Liebig.3 Josef Redtenbacher in Prague and Vienna and Anton Schrötter in Graz and Vienna introduced in Austria Liebig's modern method of chemical education based on the laboratory work of all students. New chairs of chemistry were installed at universities and polytechnic institutes after the revolution of 1848. The organization of studies was reformed between 1849 and 1870. A third line of chemical education at a secondary level was established by the foundation of “Gewerbeschulen” (technical secondary schools for chemistry).

Research at Austrian universities was mainly concerned with organic chemistry, particularly with substances isolated from plants. Austrian chemists published their results mainly in German journals before 1848. After the foundation of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 1847, the Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Wiener Akademie der Wissenschaften (Proceedings of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna) were started in 1848 and Austrian chemists could then publish in that journal. Starting in 1880 chemical papers of the Sitzungsberichte were reprinted in the Monatshefte für Chemie und verwandte Wissenschaften (Monthly issues for chemistry and related sciences, today called Chemical Monthly. The titles “Monatshefte/Chemical Monthly” will be used throughout this paper).4 This journal was well accepted in Austria and also abroad. Another journal, the Berichte der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Förderung der chemischen Industrie (Proceedings of the Austrian Society for the Advancement of Chemical Industry), was published in Prague from 1879 until 1898.

Chemical research advanced in the last years of the nineteenth century, the industry grew and the number of chemistry students and graduates increased considerably. To support these developments and to make continued education possible, chemical associations seemed desirable.

In 1869 the Chemisch-Physikalische Gesellschaft (CPG, Chemical-Physical Society) was founded by the chemist Heinrich Hlasiwetz and the physicists Josef Loschmidt, Josef Petzval and Josef Stefan. Aims of the association were to further the development of chemistry and physics and to disseminate chemical and physical knowledge. This was to be achieved by:

  • lectures on research, demonstration of experiments and discussion of theoretical methods;

  • support of research and edition of a journal both depending on the financial possibilities of the association;

  • contacts with other scientific associations at home and abroad.

Written reports of the early period of the CPG were lost, but the association still exists today.

Presidents were always elected for one year. Among them were top scientists of Austria such as the above-mentioned founders, the physicists Ernst Mach and Ludwig Boltzmann, the chemists Adolf Lieben, Josef Maria Eder and Rudolf Wegscheider, the physiologist Siegmund Exner and others.

The main activity of the CPG was organizing lectures. At the beginning scientists from Vienna were lecturing, but, later on, speakers from abroad were also invited, such as Anton Lampa from Prague, Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff from Berlin, Marian von Smoluchowski from Cracow and George de Hevesy from Budapest. These names show the scientific level of the CPG lectures.

The success and high standard of the CPG lectures probably evoked the foundation of the Wiener Verein zur Förderung des Physikalischen und Chemischen Unterrichts (Viennese Association for the Advancement of Physical and Chemical Teaching) in 1895. This association was concerned with supporting chemistry and physics teachers at secondary schools. The first president of this association was the physicist Viktor von Lang. He was also president in 1900 when the association had 317 members.

Both associations mentioned before did not meet the necessities of chemists working in the industry, therefore a third association was needed. Since 1892, regular monthly meetings of Viennese chemists had been organized. Their participants decided to establish an association which should have mainly dealt with the professional situation of chemists. In February 1897 the First Austrian Day of Chemists (Erster Österreichischer Chemikertag) was set up. At this meeting a provisional governing group for a chemists’ association was established, which in the following month received the permission of the authorities to start the association.

In June 1897 the Verein Österreichischer Chemiker in Wien (VÖCH, Association of Austrian Chemists in Vienna) was founded. The constituent assembly took place in the festive hall of the Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (ÖIAV, Association of Austrian Engineers and Architects). The Technical College had granted the use of a lecture hall for future meetings of the VÖCH and a number of industrial enterprises had announced their financial support. So the starting conditions seemed to be favourable. In the beginning most of the members were Viennese chemists. Therefore the supplement in Wien (in Vienna) was added to the name. As the main centres of the chemical industry were in the provinces (Bohemia, Lower Austria, etc.) most chemists (about 60% of the members in the year 1900) were living outside Vienna. For this reason the supplement “in Vienna” was omitted from the name in 1901.

According to the concepts of the founders the VÖCH was to serve not only as a society in which information related to the development of chemistry as a science being discussed as it is in all scientific societies, but also as an organization representing college and university graduate chemists in their relationships with the state and their employers.

The first managing committee, consisting of eight persons, reflected the wish of the newly founded association to stay in contact with the authorities and to represent the chemists working in the industry: The president, Emerich Meißl, was director in the Imperial Ministry of Agriculture, the first vice-president, Professor Ernst Ludwig, was a member for the Upper Chamber of the Parliament and the first secretary, Karl Hazura, worked as chemist in the National Bank. The second vice-president, Josef Klaudy, worked in the Technologisches Gewerbemuseum (TGM, a higher technical school). Other members of the managing committee were directors or owners of industrial enterprises. It is remarkable that although the First Austrian Day of Chemists, where the foundation of the VÖCH originated, had mainly been attended by these technical chemists, the managing committee consisted of six persons with a Ph.D. and only two were graduates from the Technical College. It is unclear if the higher prestige of university graduates was the reason for giving them preference in the presidency. Additional members of the presidency besides the eight men of the managing committee were Hans Heger, editor of the Pharmazeutische Post (Pharmaceutical Post) and Zeitschrift für Nahrungsmittel-Untersuchung und Hygiene (Journal for Food Analysis and Hygiene), who initially printed two pages for VÖCH in his journal free of charge, and two managers of important companies (Apollo Soap Company and Siemens & Halske). Meißl remained as president until his death in 1905 with an interruption of one year. He was followed by Rudolf Wegscheider, one of the most prominent Austrian chemists at that time, a professor of physical chemistry who remained as president until 1929.

The association was supposed to represent the interests of persons with academic training in the field of chemistry. The total number of these persons in the Habsburg monarchy is not exactly known, but it may have been 1000 to 2000 when the VÖCH was founded.

About 2% of all employees of the Habsburg monarchy (about 3.3 million in 1902) were employed by the chemical industry (not including the food industry).5 The chemical companies amounted to about 1% of all industrial enterprises of the monarchy. Most of them were small (84% of the chemical firms employed between one and five persons). The numbers of chemical factories with more than 20 employees were 752 in 1901 and 967 in 1911.6Table 1.1 shows those branches of the chemical industry that employed the highest numbers of people.

Table 1.1

Percentage of persons working in different branches of the Austrian chemical industry in 1902. Calculated from Tumpel (1995), 32.

Chemical products (acids, bases, salts, solvents, etc.) 17 
Coal, coke, coal gas 17 
Pharmacies 11 
Soaps, candles 10 
Ignition products 
Mineral oil, mineral pitch, bitumen 
Fats, edible oils 
Other 14 
Chemical products (acids, bases, salts, solvents, etc.) 17 
Coal, coke, coal gas 17 
Pharmacies 11 
Soaps, candles 10 
Ignition products 
Mineral oil, mineral pitch, bitumen 
Fats, edible oils 
Other 14 

The association was mainly financed from membership fees (the same for ordinary and extraordinary members) and to a lesser extent by contributions from the industry. Members living in Vienna paid twice as much as members from the province. Chemical companies paid three times the fee of the Viennese members.

The membership fees for members in Vienna were 6 Guldens (fl) in 1897 and increased to 7 Guldens in 1899; for members outside Vienna they were 3 Guldens in 1897, which increased to 5 Guldens in 1899. Later the Austrian currency changed from Gulden to Kronen (abbreviation K); 1 fl = 2 K. Membership fees were 15 K for members from Vienna and 12 K for all other members in 1908. Members from Germany had to pay an additional 2 K and members from other foreign countries an additional 4 K for postage. Because the numbers of members decreased between 1902 and 1907, the membership fees for newly graduated chemists were reduced in 1908 to 8 K and the possibility was given to pay by four instalments of 2 K. This may have contributed to a considerable increase in the number of members during the following years.

There existed a special member category, known as the “Gründer” (founders). These were single persons or companies from the chemical branch contributing a higher membership fee (about 200 fl before 1900).

The total amount of membership fees was between 8500 and 14 400 Kronen (Austrian crowns) between 1901 and 1916. The sums are not well correlated with the number of members given in Figure 1.1. The amount decreased from 13 554 Kronen in 1910 to 13 381 Kronen in 1912, although the number of members increased from 937 in 1910 to 1013 in 1912. An additional income amounting to between 5 and 27% of the membership fees is documented in the ÖCHZ between 1901 and 1918 (without indicating the source).7 Between one third and two thirds of the membership fees were necessary to cover the costs of the ÖCHZ. Founders contributed about 5 to 20% of the total income of VÖCH. The contribution amounted to about 15% in 1912 and reached a peak of 21.3% in 1914. It decreased to about 7% in 1918.

Figure 1.1

Number of members of the Association of Austrian Chemists between 1898 and 1918.

Figure 1.1

Number of members of the Association of Austrian Chemists between 1898 and 1918.

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Only chemists with sufficient academic training (at least six semesters’ successful studies at the university or technical college) could become full members of VÖCH. Graduates from lower technical schools and students could become extraordinary members. Initially most members were graduates of the technical colleges, who had a somewhat lower rank compared to the graduates from the university. The rules of admission of full members, who had an academic degree, and “extraordinary” members, who had been trained in technical high schools, were not altered before 1900. No specific groups of chemical practitioners were explicitly prohibited from membership. Honorary membership has been awarded to outstanding chemists since 1903. Only two honorary memberships were awarded before the First World War: one in 1903 to the foremost chemist and inventor Carl Auer von Welsbach, and one in 1907 to Wilhelm Neuber, a Viennese factory owner, for his merits during the development of VÖCH.

Until 1916, the number of founders was between 14 and 17; in 1917 their number increased to 24 and in 1918 to 31. Until 1912, every year the numbers of ordinary and extraordinary members were compared in the minutes of the general assembly.

The professional fields of the VÖCH members are shown for the year 1901 in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2

Professional fields of the members of VÖCH. From Tumpel (1992), 45.

Self-employeda 224 
Employeesb 439 
Chemistry teachersc 73 
University teachers 52 
Public servants 136 
Without profession 10 
Total 934 
Self-employeda 224 
Employeesb 439 
Chemistry teachersc 73 
University teachers 52 
Public servants 136 
Without profession 10 
Total 934 

People independent of an employer (own business, experts, writers, etc.)


People employed in a factory, by the state, by some publisher, etc.


Teachers in secondary schools.

It follows from Table 1.2 that about 70% of the members were working in a private business. The extraordinary members amounted to about 10–18%. This means that mainly chemists with a higher degree were represented in the VÖCH, but the management of the association always also tried to support chemists with lower training (e.g. in secondary professional schools) with their specific requests.

In 1897 the association had about 200 members, in 1898 about 700 and in 1900 about 900. The number decreased to about 700 in 1907; since then we saw a sharp rise to about 1100 in 1914 and 1300 in 1918. In these years the numbers of extraordinary members (with no academic studies but only trained in technical high schools) were between 10 and 20% of the total number. In Figure 1.1, the numbers of members are given for the years 1898 to 1918.8

It is worth mentioning that information including the number of members in the year 1900 was sent to Bohuslav Brauner to Prague by the VÖCH secretary Karl Hazura and then most probably was forwarded to Henry Carrington Bolton from Columbia College NY.9 Bolton used it in 1902 for his paper Chemical Societies of the Nineteenth Century with an overview of the world's chemical societies prepared for the 25th Anniversary Issue of the Proceedings of the American Chemical Society.10 Bolton dedicated a copy of his publication to Bohuslav Brauner (Figure 1.2).11 In a table showing the membership of the world's chemical societies, Bolton listed seven Austrian societies (four of them founded in Prague and described in Chapter 3) with a total of 3072 members (about 1500 of them in the Czech Lands). The Austrian societies ranked fourth after Germany, Great Britain and France (compare Table 1.3).

Figure 1.2

Postcard sent by K. Hazura, the first secretary of the Association of Austrian Chemists, to the Czech chemist Bohuslav Brauner from Vienna on May 30, 1900. The card contains current data on the Association. Brauner helped the American chemist Bolton to collect information on European chemical societies for Bolton's brochure Chemical Societies of the Nineteenth Century (Washington, 1902). The card is kept in the Museum of Czech Literature in Prague, Collection B. Brauner, Correspondence. The picture was given to the author by S. Štrbáňová.

Figure 1.2

Postcard sent by K. Hazura, the first secretary of the Association of Austrian Chemists, to the Czech chemist Bohuslav Brauner from Vienna on May 30, 1900. The card contains current data on the Association. Brauner helped the American chemist Bolton to collect information on European chemical societies for Bolton's brochure Chemical Societies of the Nineteenth Century (Washington, 1902). The card is kept in the Museum of Czech Literature in Prague, Collection B. Brauner, Correspondence. The picture was given to the author by S. Štrbáňová.

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Table 1.3

Membership numbers of chemical societies of the world in 1900 (from Bolton,1902).

CountryNo. of societiesNo. of members
Austriaa 3072 
France 10 4065 
Germany 10 7559 
Great Britain 7550 
USA 2379 
CountryNo. of societiesNo. of members
Austriaa 3072 
France 10 4065 
Germany 10 7559 
Great Britain 7550 
USA 2379 

Including the Czech Lands.

Among the problems to be addressed by the association were:

  • Improving curricula of the Technische Hochschule (Technical College);

  • Introducing the title “Ingenieur” for graduates (this was only granted by an imperial order in 1917);

  • Improving patent laws;

  • Improving the conditions for chemists in the industry;

  • Furthering the interests of the chemical industry.

Several meetings of the VÖCH took place each year, starting in 1898. Minutes of these sessions were published in the journal Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung (ÖCHZ). The report on the year 1897/189812 lists 13 plenary sessions. The meetings took place in lecture halls of the Technical College from 1897 until 1918. (Around 1870, the status of the technical college was changed. Originally established as Polytechnisches Institut in which a general technical education was offered, the college was converted according to the recommendations of the Czech chemist Carl Kořistka into the Technische Hochschule – Technical College – with new admission requirements, more specialization and stricter examinations.13) Starting in 1907, funds were collected for building a house for the VÖCH. Because of the First World War, however, the building plans were postponed. After the war the funds were lost due to the inflation and plans for the building were abandoned.

Standing orders authorized ordinary and extraordinary members to participate in discussions of the general assembly and to make proposals. These proposals had to be treated by a committee or a commission (two thirds of their members had to be ordinary members) and after that put to the vote of the general assembly.

In October 1897 a general assembly established seven commissions to treat certain fields: a board for general questions, an employment agency, an economic commission, a patents commission, a commission for professional ranking, a lecture commission and an education commission.14 But these permanent commissions were dissolved in 1899 and replaced by commissions that were established when needed.

In 1906 a committee relating to trade policy was elected. It had to inform the plenary assembly about questions of tax laws and customs policy. In 1907 a committee was installed to formulate a draft agreement for chemists working in the private industry. At that time chemists were usually working without a contract, which was unfavourable on the termination of employment and in case of the utilization of inventions made during employment. In 1909 this committee published a proposal for an employment contract and in 1910 this proposal was complemented by the general assembly.15 This model contract was not obligatory but was used in many cases as a basis for employment. In 1914 a commission for the advancement of the chemical industry in war time was established.16

The main concern of the society was the professional recognition and the status of Austrian chemists. Other goals of the association were to further chemistry and chemists in all areas of science and economy, and to sustain research and education in Austria. Any political influence should be excluded from the activity of the association. VÖCH supported its members by arranging positions for chemists free of charge. A commission for that was established in 1897, as mentioned previously. The nine members of that commission came from Brno (Brünn), Prague, Vienna and Graz.14 Fifteen to twenty jobs were offered each year with the help of VÖCH. Efforts to establish a legal title for chemists from the Technical University (chemists from the university had a Ph.D.) were time consuming.17 Finally in 1917 the government approved the title “Ing.” (engineer).

Because chemists with academic degrees working in public service were paid less than public officers with a law degree, VÖCH tried to convince the government that this was unjust.18 Until 1918 these efforts were only partly successful. Most letters were not answered by the ministry. In some cases improvements were reached.

At the end of the nineteenth century a new law concerning food quality was passed.19 To control its regulations new types of food experts had to be instructed and afterwards examined. VÖCH was involved in the improvement of the examinations which were necessary to become a food expert.20

In 1910 the VÖCH sent a letter to the Ministry of Public Labour complaining that chemists did not have the possibility to become professional consultants.21 In consequence, in 1913 the Ministry approved the profession “civil engineer for technical chemistry” for persons who were allowed to design and examine devices and machinery in the field of technical chemistry.22 They also could deliver certificates for apparatuses and processes. Problems with this new profession were reported in 1914.23 VÖCH also made efforts to improve the patent laws but without success.

The engagement in chemical education started in 1900, because in 1898 new curricula reduced the number of chemistry lessons in secondary schools. VÖCH suggested a new type of secondary school with living languages instead of Greek and Latin and enhanced teaching in science. In 1907 Wilhelm Ostwald gave a talk in Vienna24 suggesting installing science, instead of languages, as the basis of secondary school education. In 1911 the VÖCH wrote to the Ministry25 to support a memorandum from the Česká společnost chemická pro vědu a průmysl (Czech Chemical Society for Science and Industry) concerning secondary chemical education. Because the society of the Monarchy preferred the humanistic education, these forward thinking plans were not accepted.

Plans for new chemistry curricula at the universities and technical universities were formulated by VÖCH in 1901.26 The training in both institutions should have become similar and comparable. Since 1901 it was possible to write a thesis at the Technische Hochschule in order to obtain the degree “doctor of technical science”.27 But this was difficult and time consuming, so most students of the Technische Hochschule finished their studies with the title “Ing.”

The VÖCH organized a great number of lectures held at the regular meetings of the association. Most speakers came from Austrian institutions and only a few from abroad. The reason was probably the limited financial sources of the association. Famous speakers in most cases gave lectures organized by the Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (ÖIAV, Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects, founded in 1848), which had a section for chemists. This association had its own building in Vienna and had a larger budget than the VÖCH.

A few examples of lectures held at meetings of VÖCH in the years 1898 to 1899 show which themes were important for the new association:

“About x-rays and more recent instruments for their production and use”28

“About Patent Legislation and the Austrian Patent Laws”29

“About progress in the production of nitric acid”30

“About methods to label margarine”31

“Chemistry of the usual techniques for reproduction”32

“Which chemical reactions occur spontaneously?”33

“Chemical speed”34

“Experience from the forensic-chemical practice”35

This list shows that practical and industrial chemistry had priority for the members of VÖCH and that physical chemistry became an important branch of research and education at Austrian universities around 1900.

There existed well-established relations of VÖCH with other professional societies in Vienna, in other parts of the monarchy and abroad.

One of the most important scientific congresses, the III. International Congress for Applied Chemistry (III. Internationaler Congress für angewandte Chemie), took place in Vienna in 1898, soon after the foundation of the VÖCH. Several members of VÖCH worked in the organizing committee in 1897 (Emerich Meißl, president of VÖCH, Ernst Ludwig, the first vice-president of VÖCH, Hans Heger, editor of the ÖCHZ, Josef Maria Eder, professor of photochemistry, Georg Vortmann, professor of analytical chemistry, Alexander Bauer, professor of general chemistry, all at the Technical College Vienna) together with high officials from Austrian ministries. At the opening ceremony the mayor of Vienna, the Minister of Commerce and high representatives from several institutions addressed the meeting. 765 participants attended lectures in 12 sections. The American Chemical Society was represented by Harvey W. Wiley from Washington D.C. (president of the American Society 1893 and 1894).36 Dr Wiley had been the chairman of the organizing committee of the World Congress of Chemists in Chicago in 1893. Honorary chairmen for nine divisions came from Germany, England and Switzerland. 76 papers were presented. In Vienna about 160 lectures were given, among them the lecture of Eduard Buchner “About cell-free fermentation”, given at the opening of the congress, which raised general interest.37 Buchner's studies, of which he spoke in Vienna, were honoured with the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1907. Henri Moissan, who received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1906 for his investigation and isolation of the element fluorine, talked about “Production and properties of pure and crystallized calcium” in the section on electrochemistry.38 He was asked in Vienna to take over the presidency of the IV. International Congress of Applied Chemistry in Paris in 1900 and he accepted. A decision taken at that congress in Vienna was the definition of the unit of the amount of electricity: the amount of electricity 96 500 coulombs, which results in the deposition of one gram-equivalent of any element, was defined as “1 Faraday (F)” in remembrance of Michael Faraday, following a suggestion of the German Electrochemical Society.39

The VÖCH had good relations with other national and international societies. VÖCH members attended meetings of the Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architekten Verein (ÖIAV). Its chemistry section also organized lectures of famous chemists from abroad, which the VÖCH could not afford. Examples of lectures given in 1906 in the lecture-hall of the ÖIAV are:

  • Jacobus Henricus van ’t Hoff, Berlin, “Thermo-Chemistry” (Thermo-Chemie).

  • Walter Nernst, Berlin, “Electrochemistry” (Die Elektrochemie).

  • Georg Lunge, Zürich, “Cooperation of chemistry and engineering in technical sciences” (Das Zusammenwirken von Chemie und Ingenieurwesen in der Technik).

  • Also Austrian chemists with international reputations lectured for ÖIAV in 1906:

  • Josef Maria Eder, Vienna, “Photochemistry” (Die Photochemie).

  • Zdenko Hans Skraup, Graz, “Constitution and synthesis of chemical compounds” (Konstitution und Synthese chemischer Verbindungen).

Good relations existed between VÖCH and the Chemisch-physikalische Gesellschaft (Chemical-Physical Society), which has been described above.

The VÖCH also kept friendly relations with the Verein Deutscher Chemiker (VDCh, Association of German chemists). ÖCHZ published reviews of lectures presented at sessions of VDCh regularly. Also summaries of lectures organized by the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft (German Chemical Society) were reviewed in ÖCHZ. This will be described in more detail in the following section on publications.

As already mentioned, the Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Wiener Akademie der Wissenschaften (Proceedings of the Imperial Viennese Academy of Sciences) were founded in 1848. Whereas the proceedings published papers from all natural sciences and mathematics, the papers dealing only with chemistry were also reprinted after 1880 in the new journal Monatshefte für Chemie und Verwandte Wissenschaften (Chemical Monthly).4 Papers of industrial interest were also published in the Berichte der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Förderung der chemischen Industrie (Proceedings of the Austrian Society for the Advancement of the Chemical Industry), which appeared in Prague from 1879 to 1898. Starting in 1887 the journal Zeitschrift für Nahrungsmittel-Untersuchung und Hygiene was edited by Hans Heger in Vienna. When the VÖCH was founded in 1898, Heger suggested widening the scope of his journal and giving it a new name Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung” (Austrian Chemists’ Journal, ÖCHZ).

With a second editor, Eduard Stiassny, the ÖCHZ became the official organ of the VÖCH. The aim of the journal was to inform the members of VÖCH about the progress in the field of chemistry in the Habsburg monarchy and abroad. Paying members received the ÖCHZ without charge. Printing costs of the ÖCHZ were always a problem (they were about 2100 Gulden in 1898). In 1899 ÖCHZ also became the official journal of the Österreichische Gesellschaft zur Förderung der chemischen Industrie in Prag (Austrian Society for the Advancement of the Chemical Industry in Prague). This society had relatively few members (61 ordinary and 96 extraordinary members in 1908), but was quite influential.40 It had issued its own journal from 1879 to 1898 as mentioned above. Its affiliation to ÖCHZ from 1899 to 1914 is shown on the front page.

The ÖCHZ was published by the two private owners until 1914, when VÖCH bought half of the journal. When the first number of ÖCHZ appeared in 189841 a large number of co-workers, including most established Austrian chemistry professors (what is now called the editorial board), was shown on the front page (Figure 1.3). There were 34 chemists from Vienna, 8 from provinces of Austria (Bohemia, Galicia and Bukowina) and 24 from abroad (Germany, Hungary, Italy and Greece) mentioned. No one from the German-speaking Switzerland was on the board. We may find among the co-workers personalities such as Alexander Bauer, Josef Maria Eder, Paul Friedlaender, Adolf von Lieben, Eduard Valenta, Georg Vortmann, Hugo Weidel, Hans Molisch (at that time in Prague) and Zdenko Hans Skraup (at that time in Graz). Biographical notes on most of these persons are given in Robert Rosner's book Chemie in Österreich 1740–1914.42

Figure 1.3

Title page of the first issue of the first volume of the Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung, May 1, 1898.

Figure 1.3

Title page of the first issue of the first volume of the Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung, May 1, 1898.

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The ÖCHZ published various original papers, summaries of articles from other journals, reviews, communications about patents, short reviews of recently edited books, questions from readers to be answered by experts, reports from industry and trade and announcements and reports from VÖCH. Also the Chemisch-Physikalische Gesellschaft decided to publish its minutes in the ÖCHZ. However, we cannot find in ÖCHZ original research papers in contrast to the publications of other chemical societies (like Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft or American Chemical Society) as there had existed since 1880 the Monatshefte für Chemie (Chemical Monthly),4 where most Austrian chemists published their scientific papers. The intended readers of ÖCHZ were mainly chemists from industry (chemical and food) and administration, who wanted information about industrial developments in Austria and abroad, about new institutions, biographical notes about famous chemists and reports summarizing new developments in various fields of chemistry.

Statistics of the sections of ÖCHZ show the proportion of articles about different branches of chemistry published from 1899 to 1914: inorganic chemistry 21.1%, organic chemistry 22%, physical chemistry 7%, analytical chemistry 14.6%, chemical technology 17.1% and “various subjects” (like obituaries, reports about buildings, congresses, new curricula of chemical education, jurisdiction concerning trade and patents, etc.) 18.2%.

The journal appeared twice a month. Its 24 issues per year had about 500–600 pages, half of which were filled with advertisements. The volume of 1915 had only half the normal size, demonstrating the shock of the starting war.

Although the ÖCHZ generally dealt only with subjects that had some relationship to chemistry or chemical industry, it also published several reports dealing with events concerning the imperial family, like the assassination of the Empress Elisabeth,43 or the assassination of the successor to the throne Franz Ferdinand,44 an incident which initiated the First World War. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Franz Joseph, an article was published glorifying the emperor45 as a ruler, who had contributed to the development of chemistry.

Several articles discussed achievements of Austrian chemists, often in connection with obituaries or when a chemist was awarded the Lieben Prize. One of the obituaries was for the chemist Adolf Lieben, who had initiated the Ignaz Lieben Preis in 1863 from money inherited from his father Ignaz Lieben. It was at that time a completely new idea to award a prize for excellence in science. The Lieben Foundation was controlled by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna. ÖCHZ always reported on the sessions of the mathematical-scientific class of the academy and also on the winners of the Lieben Prize.46 For example ÖCHZ reported on the Lieben Prize for Rudolf Wegscheider, professor at the University of Vienna and president of VÖCH since 1905, and Hans Meyer, professor at the University of Prague, who later died in the concentration camp Theresienstadt in 1942.47 Wegscheider had published papers on the esterification of various acids and Meyer about the use of thionyl chloride in organic synthesis.

On another occasion we find a notice about the planned closing of the chemistry section of the Technologisches Gewerbemuseum (TGM), where at that time Paul Friedlaender was doing research into dye chemistry as head of the chemistry section. Friedlaender, who was also on the editorial board of ÖCHZ, was awarded the Lieben Prize in 1909 for his work on the antique purple and left Vienna in 1911 for Darmstadt when the chemistry section of TGM was finally closed and a new chemistry school without research was opened instead.48

An inspection of the articles published in the ÖCHZ shows that the Association tried hard to stay in contact with the rapid development of chemistry in other European countries (mainly Germany). In the years before the First World War the research of several important chemists in Berlin, like Emil Fischer, Richard Willstätter, Otto N. Witt, Paul Ehrlich, Hans Landolt, Walther Nernst and Fritz Haber, is described in the ÖCHZ. From Austria the work of organic chemists like Zdenko H. Skraup, Hans Molisch, Paul Friedlaender, of analytical chemists like Friedrich Emich (Graz) and Fritz Pregl (Innsbruck) and of physical chemists like Rudolf Wegscheider, Anton Skrabal (Graz) and Emil Abel (Vienna) was presented in the ÖCHZ. Some articles discussed lectures about important developments, such as a lecture given by Fritz Haber about the synthesis of ammonia and Friedrich Bergius about the hardening of fats. In both cases catalysis, which was detected as the most important factor for chemical kinetics by Wilhelm Ostwald (Nobel Prize 1909), played a central role.

The Österreichischer Chemiker-Schematismus, a collection of the names, addresses and professional positions of about 2600 chemists working in Austria, was first published by VÖCH in 1898.49 The booklet, which also contains useful statistical information, had 142 pages and was sold for 60 kr. In 1905 the 4th edition appeared with enumeration of 2700 chemists working in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The 5th edition in 1908 was subdivided into three parts. In the first part as many as 4500 names were given in alphabetical order. In parts 2 and 3 the names were arranged according to professional fields and places of residence. These parts were sold for 2.50 K each. In 1911 the 6th edition was printed. Information from that booklet is given in a paper which appeared in VÖCH with a table summarizing the numbers of chemists in public and private employment.50 Part of these data is given in Table 1.4.

Table 1.4

The employment of Austrian chemists in 1911 (including the Czech Lands). From Grünwald (1913), 135.

Number of chemists in certain professions (examples)
Total 4170 (from this number 525 people were working in Hungary and 270 in other countries outside the monarchy). 
In public service  
1603 (38%) 118 university professors 
 40 university lecturers (Dozenten
 134 university assistants (Assistenten
 280 teachers in secondary schools 
 238 teachers in professional secondary schools (Gewerbeschulen) 
 367 in public technical control 
 222 in public research institutes 
Privately employed  
2567 (62%) 308 chemical heavy industry 
 817 sugar industry 
 285 dye industry 
 157 mineral oil industry 
 142 pharmaceutical industry 
 113 mines and metallurgical industry 
 111 private research institutes 
Number of chemists in certain professions (examples)
Total 4170 (from this number 525 people were working in Hungary and 270 in other countries outside the monarchy). 
In public service  
1603 (38%) 118 university professors 
 40 university lecturers (Dozenten
 134 university assistants (Assistenten
 280 teachers in secondary schools 
 238 teachers in professional secondary schools (Gewerbeschulen) 
 367 in public technical control 
 222 in public research institutes 
Privately employed  
2567 (62%) 308 chemical heavy industry 
 817 sugar industry 
 285 dye industry 
 157 mineral oil industry 
 142 pharmaceutical industry 
 113 mines and metallurgical industry 
 111 private research institutes 

The number of experts by VÖCH who were allowed to deliver certificates about industrial enterprises in different fields of chemistry was 124.51 The 7th edition of the Chemiker-Schematismus appeared in 1914.

An address register of all industrial companies connected to chemistry was edited by VÖCH in 1897 and its second edition appeared in 1898.

The Association of Austrian Chemists was founded at a time when the number of chemical companies, in which all sorts of chemicals were made, grew rapidly, with the consequence that more and more chemists were required to work in the industry. The industrial production shows clearly that this growth started around 1890 (Table 1.5).52

Table 1.5

Industrial production in Austria 1870–1913. The production of 1913 is taken as 100%. From Rosner (2004), p. 292.

1870 1875 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1913 
33.7 35.4 35.8 44.0 54.2 65.0 70.6 78.7 93.5 100 
1870 1875 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1913 
33.7 35.4 35.8 44.0 54.2 65.0 70.6 78.7 93.5 100 

The textile and sugar industries were growing extremely rapidly. Engineering for the transport and armaments industries was also developing rapidly. In addition, the production of the chemical industry increased steadily during these years. The chemical productions that used electricity moved from Bohemia to the Alpine regions. Parallel to the growth of the chemical industry the number of students at universities and technical universities of the Monarchy and the number of graduated chemists increased steadily during the last years of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.

The new association had as its primary aim the representation of chemists in industry or in administration both legally and economically but also supported the employers in the chemical industry in their dealings with the authorities. A further aim was for an improvement of chemical education in order to keep the industry competitive.

In its activities the VÖCH made a great effort to keep its members informed about the rapid developments of chemistry in every field and therefore often invited prominent scientists to lecture at the meetings of the association. But the exchange of information in scientific meetings was not a major activity of the VÖCH in contrast to other chemical societies. This can be seen in the ÖCHZ, the journal of the VÖCH, which contained articles discussing various new developments in chemistry, biographies of important Austrian chemists and articles dealing with a variety of legal and economic questions, but no articles in which research results were discussed. The journal in which Austrian chemists could report their research results was the Monatshefte für Chemie und Verwandte Wissenschaften (Chemical Monthly), which was published by the Imperial Academy of Sciences.

Although the primary aim of the VÖCH was the representation of chemists working in industry, many of the elected officials were chemists with an academic background, probably because of the high prestige of these persons. As a result, more attention was paid to the research activities of Austrian chemists in later years. Compared to basic research, the Austrian chemical industry was quite successful during the second half of the nineteenth century. Practical application of scientific research resulted in an increasing gross national product. Before the First World War, Austria's rate of economic growth was second in Europe and it appears now that the activities of the VÖCH have contributed to the positive development in the area of chemical industry in Austria during the period from the 1890s to the beginning of the First World War.53

Finally, the author of this chapter wants to report an observation, which in various ways induces associations concerning the past and present of chemistry and the ÖCHZ. The paper of the original ÖCHZ journals that I could study in two libraries of Linz is often very brittle. This is probably caused by the acidic reactions of the paper. My speculation is that this paper was made from cellulose prepared from wood using the new successful “Kellner” process with magnesium sulphite. At the end of the nineteenth century many paper factories using this process were built and the rivers were extremely contaminated with wastes from the factories. Karl Kellner, the inventor, founded the Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Co. Ltd, one of the most important industrial companies of the world. An obituary of Kellner, who also invented a new method of chlorine-alkali-electrolysis (Castner-Kellner-process), appeared in the ÖCHZ 1905.54 In 1912, Benjamin Reinitzer, professor at the Technical College Graz, the brother of Friedrich Reinitzer (discoverer of liquid crystals), wrote in the ÖCHZ about contamination of Austrian rivers by paper factories.55 He developed a method to oxidize sulfite by chlorine and precipitate it as calcium sulfate. This method improved the situation in many cases. But the final cure for the rivers came only in the second half of the twentieth century and is still a problem now.

I want to thank Soňa Štrbáňová and Robert Rosner for their comments and suggestions which helped me to improve this chapter.56


Chemisch-physikalische Gesellschaft (Chemical-Physical Society)


Gulden (old Austrian currency, divided into 100 Kreuzer, abbr. kr)


Gesellschaft Österreichischer Chemiker (Austrian Chemical Society, before 1982 the name was VÖCH)


Krone (Austrian crown, currency after 1900 by a law of 1892, divided into 100 Heller abbr. H, 1 fl = 2 K)


Kaiserlich königlich (Imperial and royal)


Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung (Austrian Chemists Journal)


Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects)


Technologisches Gewerbemuseum (Technological Industrial Museum, a new type of higher technical school)


Verein Deutscher Chemiker (Association of German Chemists)


Verein Österreichischer Chemiker in Wien (Austrian Chemists Association in Vienna; in 1901 the supplement “in Wien” was omitted from the name, in 1982 the name was changed into GÖCH)


The basis for this chapter is the Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung (ÖCHZ, Austrian Chemists Journal), which was founded in 1887 and became the official journal of the Verein Österreichischer Chemiker in Wien (VÖCH, Austrian Chemists Association in Vienna) in 1898. The complete archives of the VÖCH were lost when the association was eliminated in 1938 and during removals after the Second World War. See also references: Tumpel (1995), Markl (1997), Rosner (2004).


Liebig (1838).


Kernbauer (1997).


Pohl and Soukup (2005).


K.k. Statistische Zentralkommission (ed.), Austrian statistics 75–1, issue 1902.


Tumpel (1995), 31.


Tumpel (1995), 47 (calculated from the VÖCH budget).


Tumpel (1995), 43.


These pictures were received from Dr. Soňa Štrbáňová (Figure 1.2).


Bolton (1902).


Many thanks to Dr. Soňa Štrbáňová for supplying this information. The title page of Bolton's paper is shown in the preface.


Meißl (1898).


Kořistka (1863).


Hazura (1898c).


ÖCHZ (1910a).


ÖCHZ (1915).


ÖCHZ (1899a), (1899b), (1900a), (1900b).


ÖCHZ (1911c).


Hazura (1898a).


Hazura and Meissl (1898), (1899).


Hazura and Wegscheider (1911a).


ÖCHZ (1913).


ÖCHZ (1914a), (1914b), (1914c).


ÖCHZ (1907).


Hazura and Wegscheider (1911b).


Stiassny and Meissl (1901).


Hartel (1901).


Valenta (1898).


Kuzel (1898).


Hölbling (1898).


Ulzer (1898).


Hrdliczka (1899).


Wegscheider (1899).


Klaudy (1899).


Ludwig (1899).


Browne and Weeks (1952).


Buchner (1898).


Moissan (1898).


Strohmer and others (1898).


Kornfeld (1909).


Österreichische Chemiker-Zeitung erster Jahrgang (neue Folge) 1898 und Zeitschrift für Nahrungsmittel-Untersuchung, Hygiene und Warenkunde (12. Jahrgang), Officielles Organ des Vereines Österreichischer Chemiker in Wien, Verlag der Österreichischen Chemiker-Zeitung, Wien.


Rosner (2004).


ÖCHZ (1898a).


ÖCHZ (1914d).


ÖCHZ (1898b).


Biographies of all Lieben Prize winners have been collected by Werner Soukup. See Soukup (2004).


ÖCHZ (1905a).


ÖCHZ (1911a), (1910b).


Hazura (1898b).


Grünwald (1913), Tabelle 1, 135.


ÖCHZ (1911b).


Rosner (2004), 292, taken from Sylla and Toniolo (1991), 227.


Narbeshuber in Markl (1997), 74.


ÖCHZ (1905b).


Reinitzer (1912).


Some articles in ÖCHZ do not show any author. These are referred to as ÖCHZ.

Browne, C. A. and Weeks, M. E. (1952), A History of the American Chemical Society, American Chemical Society, Washington D.C
Bolton, Henry Carrington (1902), Chemical Societies of the Nineteenth Century, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C
Buchner, E. (1898), Ueber zellfreie Gärung, ÖCHZ1, 229–232
Grünwald, J. (1913), Die Stellung des Chemikers in der modernen Industrie, im Staatsdienst und seine soziale Stellung, ÖCHZ16, 133–138
Hartel, M. P. (1901), Die Verleihung des Promotionsrechtes an die technischen Hochschulen der im Reichsrathe vertretenen Königreiche und Länder, Rigorosenordnung”, ÖCHZ4, 183–184
Hazura, K. (1898a), Das Lebensmittelgesetz vom 16. Jänner 1896 und seine Durchführung, ÖCHZ1, 83–84 and 117–120
Hazura, K. (1898b), Der Chemiker-Schematismus, ÖCHZ1, 326 and 368
Hazura, K. (1898c), Verzeichnis der Ausschuss- und Commissions-Mitglieder des Vereines Österreichischer Chemiker in Wien, ÖCHZ1, 434
Hazura, K. and Meissl, E. (1898), Eingabe des Vereines Österr. Chemiker in Wien an das k.k. Ministerium des Inneren in Angelegenheit der Prüfungsordnung für dipl. Lebensmittelexperten vom 13. October 1897, ÖCHZ1, 80–82
Hazura, K. and Meissl, E. (1899), Eingabe des Vereines Österreichischer Chemiker in Wien an das k.k. Ministerium des Inneren und das k.k. Ministerium für Cultus und Unterricht, ÖCHZ2, 348–349
Hazura, K. and Wegscheider, R. (1911a), Eingabe des Vereines in Angelegenheit der Ziviltechniker-Verordnung, ÖCHZ14, 12–14
Hazura, K. and Wegscheider, R. (1911b), Eingabe des Vereines in Angelegenheit der Ausgestaltung des Chemie-Unterrichtes an Mittelschulen, ÖCHZ14, 40
Hölbling, V. (1898), Ueber Fortschritte in der Fabrication von Salpetersäure, ÖCHZ1, 141–143 and 172–173
Hrdliczka, F. (1899), Chemismus der gebräuchlichen Reproductionsverfahren, ÖCHZ2, 38–40
Kernbauer, A. (1997), Chemical Education in the Habsburg Monarchy's Universities and Technical Colleges around 1861, in W. Fleischhacker and T. Schönfeld ed., Pioneering Ideas for the Physical and Chemical Sciences, Plenum Press, New York & London, 289–296
Klaudy, J. (1899), Die chemische Geschwindigkeit, ÖCHZ2, 364–366 and 433–437
Kořistka, C. (1863), Der höhere polytechnische Unterricht in Deutschland, in der Schweiz, in Frankreich, Belgien und England, in H. Sequenz, 150 Jahre Technische Hochschule Wien, Springer, Wien & New York, 31–33, 151
Kornfeld, F. (1909), Geschäfts- und Rechenschaftsbericht für das Jahr 1908, ÖCHZ12,137–138
Kuzel, H. (1898), Ueber Erfindungsschutz, Patentsysteme und moderne Patent-Gesetzgebung, ÖCHZ1, 25–28 and 65–66
Kuzel, H. (1899), Ueber die Aufgaben der Patentgesetzgebung und über österreichisches Patentrecht, ÖCHZ2, 226–231
Liebig, J. (1838), Der Zustand der Chemie in Österreich, Annalen der Pharmacie25, 339–347
Ludwig, E. (1899), Erfahrungen aus der gerichtlich-chemischen Praxis, ÖCHZ2, 634–636
Markl, P. ed. (1997), Chemie in Österreich, 100 Jahre Gesellschaft Österreichischer Chemiker 1897–1997, Gesellschaft Österreichischer Chemiker, Wien
Meißl, E. (1898), “Protokoll der Generalversammlung des, Vereines österreichischer Chemiker in Wien' am 25. Mai 1898”, ÖCHZ1, 185–188 and 219–220
Moissan, H. (1898), Herstellung und Eigenschaften des reinen und krystallisierten Calciums, ÖCHZ1, 255–256
ÖCHZ (1898a), Kaiserin Elisabeth, ÖCHZ1, 309
ÖCHZ (1898b), Zum 2. Dezember 1898, ÖCHZ1, 445–446
ÖCHZ (1899a), Zur Erlangung der Doctorwürde an technischen Hochschulen, ÖCHZ2, 563
ÖCHZ (1899b), Die gesetzliche Regelung des Ingenieurtitels, ÖCHZ2, 614
ÖCHZ (1900a), Ingenieurtitelausschuss, ÖCHZ3, 136
ÖCHZ (1900b), Standesbezeichnung Ingenieur, ÖCHZ3, 550
ÖCHZ (1905a), Preisverleihung der kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, ÖCHZ8, 258
ÖCHZ (1905b), Dr. Karl Kellner, ÖCHZ8, 279
ÖCHZ (1907), Naturwissenschaftliche Forderungen zur Mittelschulreform, ÖCHZ10, 342–343
ÖCHZ (1910a), Jahresbericht über das Vereinsjahr 1909, ÖCHZ13, 51
ÖCHZ (1910b), K.k. höhere Staatsgewerbeschule chemisch-technischer Richtung in Wien 17, ÖCHZ13, 230
ÖCHZ (1911a), Prof. Dr. Paul Friedlaender, ÖCHZ14, 61
ÖCHZ (1911b), Die neuernannten handelsgerichtlich beeideten Sachverständigen und Schätzmeister der chemischen Branchen (Gruppe 61), ÖCHZ14, 131–133
ÖCHZ (1911c), Die Zurücksetzung der Techniker im Staatsdienst, ÖCHZ14, 258
ÖCHZ (1913), Zivilingenieure für technische Chemie, ÖCHZ16, 141–142
ÖCHZ (1914a), Die neue Ziviltechniker-Verordnung, ÖCHZ17, 124
ÖCHZ (1914b), Titelführung der Ziviltechniker, ÖCHZ17, 139
ÖCHZ (1914c), Die Prüfungsordnung für Ziviltechniker, ÖCHZ17, 156
ÖCHZ (1914c), Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand, ÖCHZ17, 163
ÖCHZ (1915), Kommission zur Förderung der chemischen Industrie in Kriegszeiten, ÖCHZ18, 31
Pohl, G. W. and Soukup, W. (2005), 125 years ‘Monatshefte für Chemie/Chemical Monthly’, Monatshefte für Chemie136, 5–14
Reinitzer, B. (1912), Ueber die Verunreinigung der Gewässer durch die Abläufe der Sulfitzellulosefabriken und ihre Bekämpfung durch chemische Mittel, ÖCHZ15, 61
Rosner, R. W. (2004), Chemie in Österreich 1740–1914, Lehre-Forschung-Industrie, Böhlau Verlag, Wien-Köln-Weimar
Soukup, R. W. (2004), Die wissenschaftliche Welt von gestern, Böhlau Verlag, Wien-Köln-Weimar
Stiassny, E. and Meissl, E. (1901), Eingabe des ‘Vereines österr. Chemiker’ an das k.k. Ministerium für Cultus und Unterricht, in Angelegenheit der Reform der chemischen Studien an den österreichischen Hochschulen, ÖCHZ4, 288–289
Strohmer, F. et al. (1898), III. Internationaler Congress für angewandte Chemie, 27.Juli bis 2. August 1898, ÖCHZ1, 234–240 and 258–274
Sylla, R. and Toniolo, G. ed. (1991), Patterns of European Industrialisation. The Nineteenth Century, Routledge, London & New York
Tumpel, R. (1995), Die Geschichte des Vereines Österreichischer Chemiker Diplomarbeit Kennzahl J 150, Matrikel-Nr. 8203922, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
Ulzer, F. (1898), Ueber Methoden zur Kennzeichnung der Margarine, ÖCHZ1, 452–453
Valenta, E. (1898), Ueber Röntgenstrahlen und neuere Apparate zur Erzeugung und Verwendung derselben, ÖCHZ1, 19–22 and 99–101
Wegscheider, R. (1899), Welche chemischen Reactionen verlaufen von selbst?, ÖCHZ2, 274–279
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