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In footnotes or endnotes please cite AIP interviews like this:
Interview of Karl Hinz by Tanya Levin on 1998 May 28, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/24509
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Topics include his childhood and early education; World War II experiences; decision to take up geology; availability of Western publications at Humboldt University; fixism and alternative ideas to plate tectonics; the International Geophysical Year and East German participation; National Oil company job; accused of being a Western spy; escape to West Germany and refuge camp experience; his work with the German Geological Survey; research on the North Sea; Indian Ocean Expedition and its importance to German marine science; trip to U.S. to meet American colleagues; differences between German and US marine sciences; recollections of Maurice Ewing; comparison of Scripps, Lamont, Woods Hole; participation on Atlantic Panel; MOHOLE Project; Joint Institute Deep Earth Sampling Program; German science policy; international cooperation in science; work on the Argentine volcanic margins; cooperation with Russian researchers; government scientific advising.
Okay. Today’s date is the 28th of May, 1998, and this is an interview with Karl Hinz, and this is Tanya Levin that is doing the interview. And I know that you were born on the 12th of April, 1934, and that was in Klebow, Germany.
And if you want to tell this story, it was part of —
It was part of Germany. This is a small village. It’s immediately east of the River Oder, and it was in former times, that means before the last World War, it was part of Germany, and the area is called Palmerania. And I was born there in this small village. My father was what we called a schnapps producer. Schnapps is alcohol, and he made this alcohol from potatoes.
So did he grow the potatoes, or did he just manufacture the —?
He only manufactured. That means, the farmers brought the potatoes to him, and then he produced this alcohol. Yes. That was pure alcohol, was about 94 or 97 percent, and this was, well, widely distributed in this area. Because a lot of potatoes were produced in this region. So yes, I was living there. I had a sister and I had a brother, and I had a lovely [?] life there.
And your mom, what did she do?
She was my mom. She was, what do you say, housewife. She was a housewife. Yes. Alright, so as I grew up there —
Were you living in a house or in an apartment?
We were living in a small house, in an old farmhouse. Had a big garden. And, alright, I was, yes, and that time the kids or say village people [???], yes, a lot of fun. First I had this elementary school was in this small village, and later at the higher school each morning I had to go to the major town that is Stettin. That is a major town. Yes? Alright, so then I think it was, that was I believe I was — I have to remember that. I was nine years old. Then we had to escape from this village, because —
Okay. You did your first, your earliest years of schooling from about six years old?
From six years old up to about eight years I was in the elementary school, and then my parents attached me to a higher school, and so I had to go each day with my sister to this town. That means early in the morning at 6 o’clock with the bicycle about one hour to the railway station, and then [???] about an hour with the train [???] the school, and in the late afternoon back, so there was not too much time for playing around.
Did they send you to this higher school because you showed promise of being educationally bright or —?
No. Because its elementary school in the small village had only one teacher, and he has four classes all in the same room. So that means you learn not too much, and that was the reason that my parents took us both away from that school and said, “You should go to another school” because the possibilities for education in this village school were very limited.
Were just the people that were able to afford to do that, did just those do that, send their children away further?
That was possible if you pay for that. Yes? So my parents had to pay for our education at this town school. Yes? Yeah.
Was it a good school? Did they teach a variety of subjects?
Yeah. It was more specialized, so they started already at that time with English, which was, in the village school was impossible. Yes? Alright, then what happened then, then in — I think I nine or between nine and ten years old. Then we had to escape. And that was in the way that you escape with the farmers. That means your car, what you say like a trek, it was treks.
No, a trek.
A trek. You see like in the former times in the west of the United States, when all these [???] moved from the east to the west or something, yes? So that means my father had to stay in this village, because the Russian [???], and so all men became members of the military. So then my mother and with the kids, we left then this village and alright, already as a small guy I had my horses and then had the trek, and this trek was to [???] west. So that means it was planned to pass the River Oder and then move to the west. But when we arrived at the River Oder, we learned that also from the western side the British and the Americans are already approaching. So my mother then left the trek, and we moved to a town in eastern Germany where we had some relatives. That was the town Schwerein. Alright, there was at that time you see there was a [???], then I was living in Schwerein with relatives in the apartment of relatives, and each night we had some bombing from the British. So Schwerein was nearly destroyed. And also —
Was it as bad as the Dresden fire-bombing?
Not so bad, but it was heavily destroyed. It was heavily destroyed. Then we, after that we moved to a small farm about 100 kilometers off of Schwerein, and we got the permission from the farmer to stay there in his house. But my mother has to work for him and I have to work for him. And my sister, she takes care of my small brother, yes? And for that it means there was, you get living for working, yeah? Alright, and then after we lost the war — okay? — there was what we call the, it was the capitulation [sic].
Before, when you were moving towards the west and you knew that the Americans and British were also moving over, was there a fear there that perhaps you would be captured or a fear of the other side, of the British?
No. Yeah, you see that was all people were afraid from the Russians. But alright, [???].
Then why go back east? Then why turn and —?
West. We turned west. So we [???]. But yeah, I have something here. Look, I was born somewhere here, so. This is now the German-Polish boundary, yes?
And so I was living somewhere here.
Okay. So you are showing me on the map that where you were born is now in Poland.
Yes. It’s where I was born. That is now in Poland. And then from here I moved in the high school year, this town Stettin, now it’s called Setsin [?]. Alright, that, we left and we drive to cross the River Oder, yes? And we had difficulties, and my mother left the trek and then we moved to a town — Oh wait, where is Schwerein? It’s somewhere here.
Were you traveling with other neighbors? Was a lot of your village also —?
With the trek, yes. That was the whole village that means.
The whole village.
That was all the ladies, the kids and the old men.
Yeah. And the men stayed behind to [???].
Yeah. They had to stay there. So we moved to this town, and then in this town which due to the bombing we left this town and moved somewhere here. It’s called, that is near Rostok, near Wismar. That was a small, very small village. And when I was staying there and that was nearly only year I was out of school, because it was counted. Yeah? So my father was not aware that it was only by meeting somebody and then you ask where my family is. Then he said, “Yes, I heard you left,” and so on, so on, so it happened, and then I think after nearly a year he suddenly arrived in this small village.
Yeah. He arrived just in time when I with other guys had a big accident. Because due to the lost war, there was a lot of weapons in the forests around this village, which soldiers left behind you see. There were big tracks and cars with weapons in it, so and we as young boys we had always these weapons and we were footing [?] everything, and so we were also fishing with some type of dynamite. And this, because there is a lot of lakes here. So and during one of our fishing episodes we had a little accident, that means one of these things exploded.
Oh, the dynamite stick.
The dynamite. Yes. So one man was killed, or one boy was killed, one they lost a hand and a leg, and another one lost his eyes, and I got only, I was at that time sitting and moving the ship, and so I got only not too much. So just when this happened, and at that time British were already here, and the British soldiers, and brought me to a hospital here in Rostok. Then he arrived. Alright, after a few weeks I was able to leave this hospital. Then [???] stay here with my father also in this area, but at that time there was a change. The British gave up this area and the Russians came in. The Russians took over. So then my father was looking for a drop, and he found a drop, a gain in his profession, and suddenly moved to another town which was called Quedlinburg. It’s not so far now from Hannover. It’s somewhere here. Yes. And we moved to Quedlinburg, and in Quedlinburg, alright, I was at school, but we were only staying in this town for about one year. Then the whole family left again, and we moved to Berlin.
Now during this time were you back in school when you were in Quedlinburg.
Quedlinburg. I was in an enormous school, yes. Because then there was these things started again to normalize, you know. But in between the war a lot of periods there was not, no school at all.
Did it seem normal, the school?
That was a normal school, yes. This school was, alright, this was already a school which was, what you say, it was not elementary school; it was already the higher levels, yes. I was at school there and I hated school. I hated it very much. We moved to Berlin because my father has another job there that was a town near Berlin, and it was Falkensee. I think I wrote it once down. Oh, you have to take the English version. I think it’s better.
No, I didn’t. Education study. I didn’t mention all the schools, yes, because there was too much change. So often I changed the places, as I was at school for a few months and then we changed again and so on. But nevertheless I think it was — now I have to look. There is something here.
Is it Falkensee?
Yeah, Falkensee. I was in Falkensee, right.
That is near Berlin, yeah?
And then in Falkensee I finished the school was what we called an Abitur, and then I started my study at the Humboldt University.
Okay. So then you went on to the university after that, when you were about 15.
This in between time, right before the university, were they getting you prepared for the university? You said you didn’t like school, but did you know you always wanted to go to school, or were you thinking at a different route or —?
Yeah. No, you see it was, in this time it was so [???] made examination, and it was already, then already Eastern Germany, and Eastern Germany there was for everybody the possibility to continue the school after 12 years, provided that you fulfilled the examinations. And then a while later I got some more fun with the school, yes? But there was a time in between I was not very happy with school at all. But then I, in Falkensee I think it was alright, yeah.
Really? Well this system then was under the Soviets.
Under the Soviets, yes, but it was already Eastern Germany, yes?
[knock on door] Yeah? Man: Hello.
So it was, Humboldt was under the — well, it was a satellite of the Soviet system but it wasn’t the Soviet system then. It was still a German —
It was a German system, but it copied, it was a copy of the Soviet system.
Did they have you learn Russian?
Yes, I started then Russian.
[speaks a foreign phrase, probably in Russian, as a question]
[answers with a foreign phrase]
Yeah, alright. Then I started already to have Russian. But it was interesting at that school. Russian was the first language. And later you got a little English, but Russian was the major language, yeah.
Okay. And did you have science at this time? Were they teaching you any sort of science classes?
Yeah, sure. Such as these, biology, geography, mathematics, [???]. It was all there. The education system I feel was not bad. It was not bad. And well, just a normal high school, yes.
Did they, was there any, did they teach you Marxism?
In just one subject, or did it perforate all of the subjects?
Oh, you see they started with really to, they started with the socialism and then they moved to the communism and the development of the communistic systems and the ideas starting from [???] and this [???], yes. So that means yeah, at that time I — we were educated in this way, and we learned already, because we know what they want to hear, how to do it, yes? And this started already at the school, yes, and [???] I was, I was, because for anybody it was really necessary to become a member of the what’s called Freie Deutsche Jugena, FDJ, F-D-J. Freie Deutsche Jugena, yes.
So the youth corps.
Yeah, something wear this blue uniform, yes. Alright, it was in the school and I think in nineteen hundred, oh, when was it? Fifty-three? I do not remember. And I finished the school. Yeah, I finished, and then I started study in geology at Humboldt University.
Who directed you towards this particular university, and why geology?
Well, it’s a funny thing. Already in the school in Falkensee the teacher was asking whether some kids are interested to look for their collection, rock collection, that other collection what the school had, and so I said yes, I will [???]. So that means you had to, because it was a corroded collection, so you had to try to bring some oil in it, yes? And then I was dealing with rocks. And in my dealing with rocks, I said, “Oh.” I became a little interested in geology. Yes? So my ideas of geology were at that time, “Oh, this could be a nice profession, because you are allowed in the field, you are out collecting rocks, you are looking for something and you are always outside, not in a bureau or” — And [???] so I had the idea, just this could be really interesting for me. Yes. But I was really, I had no good idea what geology means. So I decided so then I applied. You went to apply for education at the university. So I made an application and wrote that I want to study geology, and [???] that I am interested, I have done this and this, and alright, then I was accepted, yeah? And then I studied geology at the Humboldt University.
Why Humboldt. Okay, first it was near Falkensee, yeah? It was near Falkensee, and the other thing was I was aware that the geological institute was in the, was located, was in the natural museum. And I visited the museum very often. And so I said, oh this is, it was all these [???] collections here, so I said oh, this is a nice building. I [???] and I was able to live in my parents’ house, so I suggested to study in Berlin. Also, Berlin was famous because some famous professors were at the university, for example von Bubnoff or Stille and these famous German geologists, yes? And that was the reason. So I was accepted, and so I started my studies under the guidance of von Bubnoff. Might be you know him per name. He was a famous geologist at that time. He was writing a lot of books and you know.
How was he as a mentor?
Oh, I think he was, yeah, he had a lot of distance to the students, yeah? But he had good associate professors, so you, I only met him during the excursions or during the examinations, yeah? Alright, his teaching. But this was, I became mostly sleepy when he was teaching. Alright, [???].
So a great deal of your university education though was field work.
Field work was also included, field work yes, but that means each year you had to do some practica [?] for example in a pete [?] mine or in a coal mine or in a salt mine or something else, yes? And the rest of the year you were sitting there and listening the [???], yeah?
And what about the class materials? The books that you were reading for classes, were they from all over the world or were they mostly —?
Yeah. See, Humboldt University has a famous library, so you got nearly everything. Excluding at that time the modern, or it was more difficult to get access to modern western publication series. But Humboldt University has them all. But, and also the geological institute had a big library, yes? So this was [???] at that time, it was a time when I was educated, that what was a time of [???]. Plate tectonic was not known at that time, yes? And so that means you, the principle, the principle was the fundamental ideas was fiksison [?], was not plate tectonics, yes?
Even though Alfred Dugener [?] had proposed it.
Sure. But he has proposed it, but you know he had a lot of scientists fighting against this hypothesis, yes?
So when you were going through your classes, no one seriously considered that idea that you know of.
No. No no. It was, it was mentioned that there are some people proposing that, yes? But it was not the accepted; it was not the accepted hypothesis. It was not accepted for example by von Bubnoff, and it was also at that time not accepted by Stille. Yes? So that means this was, it was a fiksisic time that I was, during my —
What theories did they propose instead of continental drift? Were they talking about land burges [?] or were they talking about the apple model, the shriveled apple?
No, no. There was, there are some hypothesis you see that was, which deals in climate concept and that Stille developed an orogenetic concept. And there was a lot of, there was the Krauss concept with the — It might be I have it somewhere. Probably [???]. It was not, it was only, during this study I think it was not the basis for the, it was not the goal of this education that you become familiar with the systems. The education was more directed to a practical work, so that it was mentioned, these hypotheses, Vening Meinesz hypothesis, yes? And the books for example are very Meinesz. But this was only, it was marginal I would say. It was marginal.
So mostly they wanted practical work for —
The [???] study to see what really was important was that you had this historical, that means you had this historical geology, then there was these, not recons-, yeah, we can say reconstruction, but all the developments which von Bubnoff made, and Stille also. Then it was mineralogy, petrography [?], geophysics. This was easy thing. But at that time I was not so much interested in these big concepts, yes? I was more interested in — what I can say? — I was more interested in the regional geological questions and then practical questions at that time. Yeah. What I can say? I was more interested in the regional geological questions and in practical questions at that time. I was more interested in this one. I was not dealing at that time with Indonesia or say the Pacific against United States, we are so far. And at that time it was very difficult for us as a student to the leave the country. It was nearly impossible. I once had the opportunity, I think it was 1954 or so, to we arrange by ourselves an excursion to Italy.
Down to Messina [?], to Sicily. And there I got a lot of interest in Wickers [?], because I visited the Strombole [?], Naples Islands, and [???], [???] and [???]. And so I got a lot of interest in this. But I was aware of that for my profession; my place would be Germany, because I was never thinking that was also the education. You [???], you are paid by the taxpayers, and after your study you have to work where the government needs you. This was a principal education, and this was accepted because what you can do, yes? So it means you, as a student, none of us really considered to leave the country and to work on problems which are not German geological problems. Yeah? German geological problems.
So was it the promise to pay, in the practical sense economic? Economic prospecting, looking for valuable minerals?
Sure. In this one. In this one. And it was also very, very difficult if you decided or if you ask to become, to stay at the university. This was very difficult, or it was mainly possible for people who were active in the Social Party. This was the [???], it’s a university, was only for this type of people. Yeah? So then for me it was clear, and it was also my wish. At that time I had no, I was not so much interested to [???], I said yes I would like to stay at the university, but then I was more interested in practical work. This was the point, yes?
I was wondering, did you hear anything about the International Geophysical Year, 1957-58?
We heard a little bit.
A little bit.
Yeah. A little bit.
Did any of your professors take part, or anyone you knew?
Some of the problems in geophysics were [???], he took part, at least he — Attends big conferences. But [???] that from Eastern Germany at that time I am not aware whether they really were involved in these big projects.
Did you hear anything about the political problem dealing with that?
Did you hear anything about the political problems around that, with Western Germany entering as — well, the problem with the two Germanys.
It was, it was, you see that was an Iron Wall. There was, in the early years when I studied it was still possible for us to move from Eastern to Western Berlin. That was possible. But only because we were living in Berlin. So we had contacts, we had contacts, but not with the universities. This was strongly not allowed. So that means, we moved to the cinemas in Western Berlin. I for example, which was also strongly forbidden, in order to get some money, I was attending in Western Berlin sport club. Because at that time I was a big sportsman. And so I was starting for this club, and [???]. And that was also interesting for me, because I got some money from this club when I came to the training, or even when I started for this club.
And this was football?
Football? Was this?
No, no, football it was not. It was athletics. Running and this type, yes? So that if I was running for them in a what means stuffle [?], I do not know. The race, yes, for people running each 100 meters, yes. And this way. Because alone this was too dangerous, yes? So I had a lot of ladies [?] then. And it was quite impressing, because they gave me, when I came to the training for training I received five Western marks, which was at that time about 25 Eastern marks, yes? And it was a lot of money. Because as a student I got a stipend.
Stipend, yes, and this was 180 German marks per month. And that, well, that was what? What [???] this was [???]. Yeah? But you see at that time there was no, there was no car, there was no motorbike. See, we were very proud if we had a bicycle.
So what did you hear about the International Geophysical Year? You heard a little.
Do you remember anything about it?
At the moment not too much. At the moment I do not remember.
Okay. Fair enough.
I do not remember. I’d say not too much, no.
Okay. And so you got your degree in 1958.
Yeah, this education was that for your degree you are also to prepare a special paper. That means you had a lot to do of field work, and then you have to write this book or whatever. And this means you, about the last year you are very busy with this. Because first you have the field work, and the mapping, then the laboratory work. So that means you are fully concentrated on this one. And they you had your examinations for all these different professors, and yeah, so that was it. Yes. So I think at that time I was not, we were all, we were not so much interested in what is going on in the big geophysics or in the big, in this, in this field. So that means you were mainly concentrated on your own things. According to my memory. Yeah? This was the way. Alright. Then I finished then. Then I went to go to this company, yes? So that means you were not able to say I want to go there and there.
They appointed you.
They appointed you. They prepared that. And they said, oh, this guy worked on problems like this, he made this examination and he made this one, and we need some more people there or there. And so all of us we received a job, but all in different companies or oil government companies. So I came then. I was appointed to the national oil company, which is VEB Erdol and Erdgas, yes? Which is still at this place.
Except it’s not government owned anymore, is it?
No. Now it’s private, yes.
Was it, did you, were you aware of the difficulties of collectivizing the industries during this time in Germany?
Yeah, sure. It was. It was all government companies, yes, and this was a national oil company of Eastern Germany.
And when you got there, what did you think of your new company? How it was operated and run.
Oh, it was new for me, because I, immediately when I arrived there they asked me to go on a drill rig. So I was on a drill rig. And what [???] at that time is they fired all the old experienced scientists. So that means, I remember very well that as really new [???] I moved, I had to, I was responsible for a drill rig which was drilling in the Harz [?] [???]. There is a small field, a small oil and gas field. And it’s called Fallstein. So I came there, and then yes, you have to, you are responsible. So we did it. Our target was at that time was the Permian, was the Hauptaolomit. Yes? In the Permian was a special —
The Permafras [?].
Permian, the formation Permian.
There was a special rock layer, it’s called Hauptaolomit. And this was the target, because this is an oil bearing and gas bearing horizon [?]. But then you have to drill through the Triassic rocks which also contain salt. So if you meet salt, you have to change the [???]. And the responsible drilling people, they always ask you, “What we are to do now? What we are to do now?” and then you make your prediction. But your prediction is as you learned it, yes? And now you are confronted with the practice that not everything is [???], but that it is really turned over because this [???] is oil structure. It was very heavy. That was a hard, hard learning face. Sometimes when I was on the drill rig these guys came and said yes — and you get all of these small pieces which were from the mark [?] came up and then you think oh, [???], oh, oh, oh, could be soil. So that means to the right time to stop, to change the [???], and then the driller, then you drill it for example 10 meters, then you are left to soil again, and you are again in say in [???] or something. So I said, that is what I [???] made there. So it means I learned a lot of practical things, you know. Then I had [???] right up to the scientific problems first. I had a lot of fun, because I said alright, this is an interesting job, you are doing good things.
Okay. This was in Gommern?
In Gommern, yeah.
And so you moved out there? Was it a field camp that you lived on or a town nearby?
Yeah. There was a field camp and I was living in the field camp, yes.
And was it all workers at this camp that were just there, or were there other —?
There were these drillers living there and the geologists, yes, and that [???]. And there was a small village nearby so you were able to buy something or so, so that means, well it’s like a camp, yeah. It was. Okay. Then as I finished this, then I returned to Gommern again. Then I had to do work within Gommern. Then Gommern at that time had no geophysics. They had only geology, geochemistry, paleontology and engineering. And then I moved then to the [???], which was the geophysical government company.
Okay. So after a year you went to —
Well, this was already after a half year I think oh, I have to look. [???] you see I was, I had [???] here. That field is the English version.
[???]. Okay, I have not mentioned it, so I moved to this. I was attached from this company to the geophysical company, yes? And then I was in the field with a seismic group, with a seismic group. So I made measurements in [???] in some parts of, different parts of Germany. Then I returned and [???] year, yes, then I returned to Gommern, and then I run into political problems. It’s crazy but it was so. Because there was not too much literature, normal literature in this company. But we had a literature which is called Erdolunakohle. Still, I think it’s still, still this is a series which — So that means this is a Western publication which we had in this office. Erdolunakohle. It’s a Western, it’s a German publication series. Somewhere. It’s a German publication. Now it’s European Oil and Gas. I have it somewhere. So this year, in the company, [???] articles for example on Western German oil fields. And because I had really no experience for example what is the space in the distances from [???] for the wells, I had also difficulties with the norms for the drilling devices, because we used different parts. We used Russian drilling devices, but also Western drilling devices. And you see, they have different norms. So in order to know what the norms are, therefore we had this publication. [???] there was one article on a field here in Hannover where they described other techniques, and so I was interested in that, because I said oh, this you can compare with another small oil field and it might be this we can also try to use on this oil field in, on Fallstein. At that time you had no copy machines, yeah? There were no copy machines. So that means in order to make a copy of an article, you have to photograph. So I photographed this article because there was only one in supply in the oil field office. So I had photographed this article. And then I had these pictures in my desk. It was a rule in this company, if you were in Gommern, you started your work at about 7 o’clock or even earlier, 6:30, and at 3 or 4:30 finished. Everybody has to leave the offices. Then I had these pictures in my desk, and there were secret controls. You had always these KGB people in each office. So —
Did you know who they were?
They made controls everywhere. So, next day when I arrived in the morning, immediately I was caught, and they told me, “You are a spy.”
With a photo in their hand.
With a photo in their hand. So it was, I was able, with the help also of my boss, I was able to convince them that this is from that publication. And these are not secret documents. Alright. I think the reason was why they are looking on me was that I was not a member of the Party, of the SED [Sozialistische Einheits-partei Deutschlands]. I never was a member of that party. And I was not a member of the Kampfgruppe. You, might be you have heard. Each company had also a military group which was called Kampfgruppe. This was something like a paramilitary organization for the case that the criminal Western countries will fight against the Eastern Bloc and they had big reserves there. So I was not a member, and I was not a member of that, and I was not a member of the party. Also they forced me to become a member of the Kampfgruppe, yes? And I said yes, I will think about it and so.
So people at this time, they thought that the West was on the brink of declaring war on —?
Yeah, sure. That was the education. That was the education.
Was it a fear, or just a —?
It was, well, you see this comes from the philosophy, because the communism was the target, yes? And this was capitalism [???]. This was a big capitalist, the big capitalist which only want to take the happy Eastern countries. I was aware, you see, I was aware on this, but at that time my point, my internal standpoint was I am born in this region, I have been educated here, I know that the economy in Western Germany and Western Berlin — because Western Berlin I know that — is much better. Also if it is much better, then we have to try to improve. This was my internal standpoint. But then I [???]. Then came the next trouble. At that time I was working on data from the Eastern Germany-Polish boundary. At that time we made what we called refraction seismic shooting. So I was busy with the interpretation of these data. I had no girlfriend at that time. I was interested, really I was interested in this job, so when I left, when I had to leave the office at 3:30 or somewhere, so I took some of this data with me, these seismograms, in order to continue this interpretation in my room. When I left the building, I was asked for a controller [?]. Then they found these field records. It gave me big trouble. Spying. Spying for the West. So then I became really nervous. Because I was aware that some of my friends for example and that some of people were in the prison, yes, because it was a time that you —
Were they scientists as well, geologists?
You must be very careful, yes? And you learned, you learned it if you talked with other people. [???] you said is it true what you are thinking. That is —
Did your boss back you up again this time?
The second problem that you had there.
So [???]. Then there was again a big meeting, and then I told them this is data, nobody can have something from that, and also again my boss explained them nobody can benefit from that. These are only data, and what I am doing is to pick the times and later I, with the calculator I have to make a depth estimate or something like that, yes? But this was already critical. And then I started thinking to say leave this country. In the meantime then I had a girlfriend, you know? And her parents we were also thinking. He was a dentist. Her parents were also thinking to leave the country. And I was always, I was not quite sure, but always I was a little afraid, just because I was, became then aware the only possibility for me to survive and possibly also to make career within this company is to become first a member of the party, of the SED, and second also to become a member of the Kampfgruppe. Otherwise I had the feeling it is impossible. So I will see what happens. Then fortunately I became responsible for a drill rig near Berlin. And then from I think within a few days I made a decision to leave, to escape. Since my parents were still living in Berlin, so I had a special passport that I was allowed to cross from Eastern Berlin, cross Western Berlin to go to the other part of Eastern Berlin. Eastern Berlin was at that time was subdivided into sectors, British sector, French sector, Russian sector, yes? And so with this special passport, because I was an inheritant [?] of Berlin I was able to go. Also I had a special passport approaching the boundary for example to Western Germany, because one of the small oil fields is near the Western Germany boundary I was allowed, had a special passport that I could pass into what is called the 1000 meter zone. Not the 100 meter zone, but the 1000 meter zone. Nevertheless, I decided to escape. So I told my boss my drill rig which I am responsible for, which I was responsible for, approaches the riverbank [?]. And then it was [???] so responsible scientist must be [???]. So I took an old jeep. I moved not directly to the [???]. I moved first to my parents’ house, and I told my father, “In two days I will leave. If you want to join me, then be prepared. If you want to stay here, then forget my visit.” And he said, “Yes, I will join you.” So I moved back to Gommern, delivered the car, and then I said, “No, the rig is not [???],” and then I took three days’ vacation. Then I took my, she became then my wife already, then I took my wife, I moved to Berlin to my parents’ house, and then we escaped. It was nothing. Because there are some like you, yes?
With a backpack [?].
Yeah. Then I, yes, and then I, because my parents had relatives in Western Berlin, so then I had to go to these [???], it’s where all the people who escaped at that time — thousands of people escaped, yes? I think at this time at least a hundred per day I would say, or even more. That was — when was it? I forgot whenever that year it was. Yes, it was in September 1959 I left Eastern Germany.
Was your mother with you, or —?
Mother, father and wife. So then I was [???].
What about your wife’s family? Did they stay? Or had they already escaped?
Oh, in the meantime my sister had died, and my brother was, that’s too long, I can’t, very complicated, yes?
But your wife’s family had wanted to leave.
No, no, they stayed. They stayed. They stayed. Because I was also not talking to my what you say —
The advent of my wife [???] no talk about that, our plans. It was only known by my brother, my mother, my father and my wife. Nobody else, yes? Too dangerous. It was really, it was not the war at that time, but it was very dangerous. If they caught you, you can be sure one or two years prison, yes? Alright, then I arrived there. After that I went to stay there in Berlin in this camp, but only myself and my father. My mother and my wife, they were allowed to stay in the houses or apartments of my relatives. So I was in this camp for all these formalities, and then I was, it was decided, you can say it in the otherwise, the American Secret Service. They were interested in people like me. So I was flown, I was brought to Frankfurt in a camp. I was not sure what the reason was. So I got a number, I was only, I had no name, I had a number, I was [???] number 44, and then I was in a camp. It’s near Frankfurt. And I got how you can say, a mentor that was an American specialist. It was nice there, it was nice houses, so I had a nice room. I got five Western German marks per day, and a packet of cigarettes and food free. But that was not the, it was not my goal to land in such a camp. So then I became familiar why I was in the camp, then I learned it. Through the discussion of the mentor. Because at that time the Americans were interested to know where the Russians had their army points, and because they saw from my documents that I was [???]. And then from this drop I was in different parts, also in the Polish boundary, so this might be this guy knows something what we not know. So this, each day I had working days. That means at 9 o’clock I had to sit there and then after about lunch time my [???] guy came and said, “Let’s come in,” and then he asked me questions. “You traveled to [???] and [???]. Have you seen guns there?” or “You know there is a Russian camp or this one?” I had a feeling, my impression was they had already such a lot of information. They had a diagram of our company, which was more detailed than I was aware.
So they had obviously talked with someone.
They already [???] some others, people from that company which left also, yes? Okay, I was standing there for one week or so, and then I asked myself, “What should I do here?” And then I remembered that I had a colleague who left earlier, who escaped earlier, and I was aware that he was at Frankfurt University. So one day I moved to the commander of this camp and said, “I want to go to the town.” He said, “Yes, alright.” Then you get another pass, [???] number 44, you were allowed to leave. And then fortunately I met this guy. Then I told him my problems. You were always afraid. So I told him my story and said, “Look, I am now here in this camp.” And then he said, “Yeah, I’ve heard about that. But you can leave if you want.” So he brought me to a minister, German Western minister, and then I met a guy there and he explained it to me. He said, “You are a free man. You can leave the camp when you want to. You have to go to the commander and say ‘I want to leave’ and then he have to give you a ticket, because you have to go to that place in order to get a Western German passport.” And in my case it was Hamberg. Alright, I came back, I moved to the commander of this camp, and I told him I want to leave this night. He said, “Why?” I said, “I want.” “Okay.” So I got my documents back, they gave me a ticket, and then I moved from Frankfurt in the direction to Hamberg, and in the morning I arrived in Hannover, I made a short stop, and I visited, said alright, you can visit this institute. I said fine, this institute was not here, it was in the town, so I tried to get a contact to the vice president. It was not possible in Eastern Germany when you left the university when you finished your study to go to these companies not to make a Ph.D. Ph.D. was only for people who will stay at the universities. So I obviously [?] was a Ph.D. So nevertheless I met this vice president with some fortune I met this [???], and then I explained him, and then he said, “Yes.” Sounds quite interesting because it turns out that when he was a younger man he was working in the same area like me. And I do not know why, he said, “Yes, I think we need somebody like you.” And then I had to write an application, everything. In the meantime I was in Hamberg, I got my passport, and then I applied with different companies searching for a job. Alright, I survived car washing, everything, gardening and so on. It was not, it was possible to survive. And then I received a letter from this institute saying yes, they are interested to that I can start. And they also told me they will give me a contract for first for one year, then we would see what’s going on. And yes, so I started in the Lower Saxony, yes, which is part of this institute. This institute is the German Geological Survey, but you have also the Geological Survey of Lower Saxony. Alright, I started with interpretation of seismic data. My first job I had to do was to prepare a map for northwest Germany on the basis of seismic data, industrial seismic data. For the rocks BDC [?] Paleozoic [sounds like Paleozoic; name list says Cenozoic]. Well I was working from I would say from say, [counts to self], less than one year I had finished these things. And then at that time the work of the first project starts with the North Sea. And then they asked me yes, this should be a work you should do.
But up until then you had always worked on land.
Yeah. And then in 1960 I made my first cruise with that ship. [???] that ship. So [???], we started with the first reconnaissance of the North Sea. That was the first reconnaissance survey of the North Sea. That was each year about four to six weeks was made with this ship. And I liked it very much, so we [???] and then I had some possibilities because I was working on board but also I had then to interpret the data, and there was no processing, yes, at that time. You had these analog records first, only this. And the [???]. And it was, the source was dynamite, yeah? So it was a working site like that, 400 meters you moved with the ship, and you had positioning [???]. So you were the only person to work at data. So we moved to 400 meters and the engine stops, the engine moves a little bit, and we had this swinging cable at that time. Then was another ship, dynamite, whoomp, next. Yeah. This reconnaissance survey we recognized already the major structural limits in the North Sea. And it was possible for me to use this data for Ph.D. work. So I made my Ph.D., yeah, I was able to combine my job with this interpretation, yeah?
What school was this?
That was a, let’s see, university in Clausthal. In Clausthal.
Here. This one. [???]. So that means, that that was [says a foreign phrase...]. That means it was a typical university of Clausthal. It’s still there. And then I made it there.
Fantastic. And you were just using that one ship on the North Sea.
Yeah, we use them in the, see, we worked for, the first test was 1959, then I was not there but the real measurements started in 1960, and then we had four cruises, ‘61, ‘62, ‘63, yes, up to ‘64. And we were mainly working with this one, with this one, but we used also this one. An old American warship, a wooden one, which was at that time used by Prakla. Prakla is a geophysical company which is no longer alive.
So how did you get, how was the place able to get a hold of this old American warship?
Oh, that was you see that was an old warship and Prakla purchased it and then they rebuild it to a geophysical vessel, yeah? This was an easy situation. In the meantime, Germany started to begin to build after the World War again the worldwide research vessel that was the old METEOR 1, the research vessel METEOR 1, which is this one.
Okay. Showing me a picture of the ship on your wall.
Yeah. And so and that was during the international Indian Ocean Expedition. Germany began again with marine research, worldwide marine research, and they had this vessel, the old — Yeah, due to my, due to my activities in the North Sea, it follows that I was appointed attend also the Indian Ocean Expedition.
Did you take part in the planning for this?
For the Indian Ocean? Yes.
How was it decided what responsibilities your group would take in the ocean in this —?
So our [???] this was the Indian Ocean Expedition, that was a multi-disciplinary experiment, was really a multi-disciplinary experiment, and so the different groups in Germany, biology, geophysics, geology, oceanography, meteorology. So they came together, and my boss at that time, he was in this real planning group, but we had to think what we want to do. So it was clear, the route for the ship was clear. This was already. And —
The route was clear because of what your boss had been talking with the other —?
With the other groups. So that means they decided from the different point. Each of the bosses they said we want to do this and this, we want to do this and this. And we at that time started, we made, we [???] the seismic work. And there was not too much, there was not much done in the Indian Ocean at that time. So we decided then from our point of view we would do some refraction [?] seismic work on the continental margin of India, we would do some refraction seismic measurements on the Murray Ridge, which was at that time a very open question, and in the Gulf of Oman. That was the plan, yes. I think it was not a big scientific ideas behind. It was something like this is unknown, let’s go and look. I think that that was the situation. Because in 1964 plate tectonic was not really known. Sea floor spreading was not known. There was already some slight thinking that something is going on, but really it was not known. Okay, then I planned it, I —
Did you see this expedition as part of an attempt to see if it was right? Or —
I think this was more from the German side. At that time it was an opportunity to demonstrate that Germany now is again active in marine sciences. Because before the World War, Germany was one of the leading countries in marine sciences. Yes? And during the war, nothing. So that means Germany lost completely the contact. And that I think was a little bit [???]. And they try for example because this international Indian Ocean Expedition they are aware a lot of targets already mentioned in the international community. So I think we, Germany, jumped on the [???].
Like what targets?
The [???] special fields, yes? For the special fields. For example, it was already known at that time the oceanic crust is much thinner than the continental crust, yes, from the old rate measurements, and here in this book [???] you see this, at that point it was one of my — where is it? Here. It was one of the most interesting teaching books, The Sea.
The Sea by [Maurice] Hill.
Yeah. That came 1963. Yeah?
So this was really a fantastic teaching book for me, yeah? Alright. So we finished this one, the Indian Ocean Expedition.
When you were working on that, was it a primary goal to involve, get collaboration with other countries? For instance, did you —?
You didn’t work with the Indians or —?
No. Yeah, we had Indians on board, we had Indians on board and we had also some cooperation, but there was really no close cooperation. Later the Indian guy came then to Germany and worked also here with us, but I was working more independently.
So it was mainly that each ship was pretty much on its own to gather data and then afterwards all the data was [???].
Then they were for example compiled in some type of [???] and so there is a famous international ocean [???], yes. And I forgot something what I should have mentioned. From the North Sea, from our North Sea things. Our North Sea work initiated the industrial exploration. In 1963 for the first time really we presented the results of our reconnaissance survey, and that was really my Ph.D. work. We presented it on the World Praetorium Conference. And after that the industry jumped into it. Not the German industry at first. German [???] industry. Conoco started, and that really sent the big questions, when Conoco planned to a drill site. That really sent big questions and made a lot of rumors, and then starts the subdivision between the coastal states of the North Sea to [???] North Sea. Yes? Unfortunately Germany got then the not very prospective sector. Well, we had a lot of metallurgy [?], but no really gaseous. And the strategy at that time for the German oil companies was to drill, to look for soil structures. Because a lot of our smaller oil fields are associated with soil structures. Which turns out was not, was wrong. Phillips for example looked on quite different targets, and they became then very soon they had very soon success, yeah. Now so that means before the Indian Ocean I was mainly dealing with the North Sea and just once, yeah? I was interested in things which I saw here, and I became interested in some type of oceanic crustal features, but I was still more thinking as an oil exploration man, yeah? So alright, then came the Indian Ocean Expedition.
Did you meet, during this time, during the Indian Ocean Expedition, some of the people from Lamont [Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory]? Is that —?
What I met at that time was I met the ATLANTIS, the Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institution] ship. She was just, I think that was also her maiden cruise. So we met, and it was fantastic for me to see that the ATLANTIS was the first research vessel, I think, besides the U.S. Navy, which at that time they had already a satellite receiver for the first time on board for navigation. So then we met the, the both ships met and I was able to visit the ship, and they showed me how accurate their position was. That means, they showed me exactly when they pass the Suez Canal, that according to the satellites [???]. So then we at that time ATLANTIS had discovered, had just discovered the Atlantis deep in the Red Sea. And they had some [???] and then they ask the METEOR 1 on the way back whether we cannot do some additional work there. That means at least to take some samples. So we used the [???] [sounds like “free for chorus”] and we were successful. And so as more cooperation started then with especially the guy who was in [???] this was a guy from Scripps [Institute of Oceanography]. So some cooperation started then with Scripps, yes? Or with this guy. What I have to remember what was, oh, so then was the Indian Ocean Expedition, yeah, then was the, alright, then after the Indian Ocean Expedition there was a big conference in Moscow. And I was able to attend that. You see, it was easy for, it was possible for me to go to Moscow; it was impossible for me to go to Eastern Germany.
Because if you had gone you might have, that’s it.
Yeah. So that means, so I was very careful always with the meeting. Later came an amnesty for all people who escaped, but much later. So that means, in Moscow I met some people from Lamont for the first time. I think.
Bruce Heezen? Bruce Heezen?
Bruce Heezen. He was famous at that time, Bruce. And [Joe] Lamar Worzel, and then I learned, I learned like a young guy about bigger problems of the oceans. This was very stimulating for me. I would really say. I have to say it. So in between I do not know what I have done. Sixty-four, then I think it was ‘65. Sixty-five. What we have done then, I have to look. I have a list of all my cruises. I spent nearly seven years on ships, yes? Then came a really very important, what was it, very important event in my life. An American company started exploration in the North Sea, and they had a, yes, they had a small office, or an office here in Hannover. And the leader of this, in this office, the responsible scientist — where is his picture? I mean I have it. Where he is? Okay. This is from von Bubnoff, yes? My old teacher. And this guy here was the exploration manager, Myron Kossary was his name, Dr. Myron Kossary. So he became very interested in my work on the North Sea, and some friendship developed between him and myself. And he told me, “You have to leave this Bundesanstalt. You have to leave Germany. You have to go to the United States or another famous research institute.” So, yeah, why not, think, alright. But at that time I was already, I was married but not with the first one. You should have mentioned it. I was, I am, you see after my escape I became divorced from my first wife, yes. Because, alright. And then later I married again in 1963 I married again, and that is still my wife, yeah. And so, and then we just, my wife expects it’s right [?]. So I had alright. So he said, “You have to meet people. Well known people.” [???] to provide to this institute few thousand marks as a gift from his oil company for the opportunity to gain access to the data and to talk with me and so on and so on. And it was decided [???] they said, “This money should be used that this young scientist should have a trip to all the well-known institutes in United States. And we will arrange that.”
What was his oil company? Which one was it?
It was, at that time it was called AMOCO HANSEATIC [Oil Company]. That was [???] company, AMOCO HANSEATIC. So then the old bosses here, they said, “Oh, this young man should get such a lot of money in order to go to these institutes? This is normally work for the bosses, not for these young scientists.” Nevertheless, it was possible that for this amount of money, which was originally [???] and given for my travel, that one, myself, and another man who was already high in the hierarchy, and we both got the possibility to visit the different groups. So first I visited Tulsa. That was in the headquarters of AMOCO. So they showed us what they are doing in the field of — well, there was seismic processing. So at that time I met also Sven Treitel. Sven Treitel, who is still working. Dominico. I met a lot of people there. And then from Tulsa I think we moved to Scripps Institution. There I met for example Joe Curry, I think Winter, then Shephard, the old geologist, marine geologist. Yeah, that guy — You see, I was always, I was really, I was surprised and I was fascinated. I also, became also aware that we are far behind in Germany, far behind in the say in the modern marine geosciences. From that place Scripps —
In what ways were you behind? What things did you notice?
In techniques, in the technical field, in the field of ideas. In the field of ideas. Yeah? And I became aware that we were focused on our small local problems. Then I met, that’s the first time I met Robert Dietz, who was one of the fathers of sea floor spreading as plate tectonics. And this opened my eyes really. I became then, I had a lot [???], I had a lot of contact with them. Then I moved to Woods Hole, I met some old friends from the Indian Ocean Expedition, but I met also Emory.
Emory. Emory, oh, I’m not really [???]. And from then I moved to Lamont.
Wow. So you hit all three of the major centers in the U.S. at the time.
I think I was at Scripps, I was in Tulsa, I was also in Houston, yeah but that was oil companies, yeah. Then I think it was — I have to look where that was. I [???] something. Then in Lamont I met Doc [Maurice] Ewing. He was, I remember that very well, you see Doc Ewing was like yeah I think all people were very big respect. So I remember that in his, in this old office, where the old library is, in the upper floor, I think there that was his working room. And it was possible to date that he said yes, come. And so I had a report, and he asked, “What you have done?” and I told him yes, Indian Ocean. He was interested in the Indian Ocean because those things at that time were not published. And he said, “You have something else?” I said, “I have something here,” and then he, and I showed him. “No, no,” that I will read it. That I remember, yes? So I’m alright, and that was his visit, or I heard a lot from Doc Ewing during my stay in Lamont. I think I was there for a week or so. And I was very impressed from John Ewing. But the first ever, that was at that time.
And John Ewing showed me these things, yes? And I was really fascinated. Because we at that time we worked with a small sparter [?] type. This is a small sparter system which was not real reliable, and so in general I met, and other people I met — Manik Talwani, sure I met Bruce Heezen, Manik, Bruce Heezen, Marie Tharp, and Worzel. At that time Worzel was the boss of Manik Talwani. And so I was really impressed from these orbital recordings which they have done. Some are still in, where I have some book? The old, these old — I don’t know where I put it. Here. And John, John is a really man, yes? ...developed at that time between myself and John Ewing. And alright, when I came back to Germany I was full of ideas, full really [???]. This was a type of recalling, yeah? This type thing.
What did you think about the different systems and programs that were being run out of Lamont and Scripps and Woods Hole? Did you notice a big difference? A lot of similarities or dissimilarities in how they were being run?
My feeling at that time was, let’s see, different, at least the people I met, that they had, yeah, different targets. But I was impressed by all of them, yes? So it means, in Lamont I was mainly impressed by the systematic [???], this systematic running around the world. Woods Hole I was impressed because they just received, [???] has just [???] the ATLANTIS, their new research vessel. And in Scripps I was impressed by — oh, I met in Scripps I met also [R.W.] Rait, the old Rait which is here, a little refraction work. See, this guy. That must be his [???] I think. When he started to [???] out with his studies — here. Rait. When he studied to find out that the oceanic crust has layer two, layer three and so on, yes? For these systematic studies. So I was impressed because there was some type of systematics in Lamont, the systematic mapping, defining the ridges. Which was really new for me at that time, yes? So I became more aware of how this progress — Sure, I was aware on all of these things, what was published, but then when I compared it only with our activities which we were doing here, and I saw oh, there is no, we are jumping on expedition, we are doing here something, here something, but a real target is not there. And I was impressed that these institutions were really running programs, and but this is understandable, because at that time we just started in this office in the geological survey. We just started this branch of marine geophysics, on marine geology. So that means it was really the beginning. Yeah, alright, I returned then. I just, I’m just thinking what. And then I tried and convinced the people that BGR should have an air gun [?]. And so then we got an air gun.
We got this air gun, yes? And then we started, this is [???] seismic system. Okay, and then follows a lot of cruises, yeah? So then I worked, I made cruises in the Mediterranean Sea, oh I met also here Ryan, Bill Ryan, who made his Ph.D. with the military [???].
What did you think of his work that he did in the Mediterranean, his [???]?
I think it was fantastic. It was fantastic. Because he was the first guy who came up with this idea, with these [???], yes. I think it was fantastic. So during, from this visit we established contacts. Now that was important. Then I think it was on a recommendation by Maurice Ewing that I became already, I have to look in this, relatively early I became a member of the so-called Atlantic Panel. I have to look. [???] in the Deep Sea Drilling Project at that time. I have to look.
Do you know why it didn’t become involved early on?
First it was an original United States program.
Right. The MOHOLE [Mohorovicic Hole].
That’s when the MOHOLE project was the big, [???]. I will see.
Yeah. I was involved then also already in these programs, yes?
Yeah. I think it’s right there, 1968?
I think, yes.
Okay, so that’s when you became involved in that, and then by that time of course MOHOLE had been canceled because it became too much.
But then there was JOIDES [Joint Institute Deep Earth Sampling Program].
Yes. Then came JOIDES, and I do not know when Germany attended the Deep Sea Drilling Project. I am not quite clear, yes?
Okay. Do you know what made them change their mind? Why they did —?
No, I think that you see, I think the German policy was yes, we should attend this big program. Yes? I think that was the — the science policy changed. It became more open-minded. You had to consider that oh yes, that first after the lost World War, and you see that first you have to build up the economy. This was very successful in Western Germany. And then you are [???]. Then in 1964 is the first research vessel. So that means worldwide marine research started, but only with one ship, yes?
What was the name? It was METEOR 1?
That was the METEOR, the old METEOR 1.
And so we are, it, and then the, because it started then at different, at only few universities marine geosciences was carried out. It was Hamberg at that time, University of Hamberg, University of Kiel, BGR Hannover, that was, I think was it. Okay then in between I have done different works, yeah, I made practical work also, so that means for example I had a cruise when I had a big accident with the ships, with that ship there, Korean ship. That I think was 1970 when I made a [???] deposits around Korea, and that was under the scope of technical assistance.
During the high tide we ran on the rocks. There is a tide of 9 meters. Bad positioning and in the light [?] and that is the situation, yeah. The ship is above the sea level. Then I made different work, I made surveys on lakes in Switzerland working together with Ken Hsu. We made reconnaissance surveys in the Baltic Sea. In several, several cruises, smaller cruises, also larger ones. Then we made studies in the frame of meteor research. We made a survey on the great Meteor Sea Mount. That was a really systematic survey. We made first reconnaissance surveys on the continental marginal West Africa.
Was that in the area around Ghana and Nigeria?
No, it was mainly the area of Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal. That was mainly these in the first time it was that area. And up to, I see it in my main cruises, major cruises I made the first time mainly with METEOR, mainly with METEOR. And I spent a lot of time on ships, yeah?
How would you compare like the METEOR with say the ATLANTIS?
The ATLANTIS at that time had a better positioning system. But I think they were adequate. They were adequate.
Did you ever seen the VEMA?
Yeah, I saw the VEMA, but I haven’t done work on the VEMA. VEMA was, compared to these ships VEMA was relatively primitive, yes? But nevertheless she was very successful, yeah? She was very successful. Probably the most successful vessel.
I’m interested in your geo-scientific advice to the German ministries and to the national and international organizations. Your advice to government, does that help the government to plan policy for science or to plan policy? Or does science help plan policy?
The advice for the government if you take this, the advice for the government is to make or to provide knowledge to the government in order to make decisions regarding their scientific but also their exploration strategy. [???] this oil crisis, this was a very important step, yes, for us, because we can convince the government that we have to be involved in frontier exploration. Because before, yeah? So that means —
Hmm? Yeah, not too much. Because you — And then it became really in Germany in the ministries and in the policy it became aware that how critical our economy depends from its efficient energy supply, yes? And that it became aware that Germany has to attend all the plans and all the projects which are focused on getting better knowledge on the assessment, or get information for a more realistic assessment of the potential. Yeah, that is, that’s the same.
[???] potential like food for —?
No. Potential the energy point is purely potential, [???] source is potential. For example manganese nodules at this one, which was, yes, so I was involved in the manganese exploration.
Was there any, did you hear anything about plankton, about using that for food? Or was that just completely biology and that was —?
That was completely biology.
So that means I personally was mainly interested in natural resources or say no living resources, yes? That was the major thing. And I think this was also very important, because after the oil crisis I able here to initiate really systematic programs, systematic programs on margins. And these was, the objective of these ones was to get a better understanding on the geological structure and on the geological development, but also to get data for a more plausible assessment of sea hydrocarbon [?] potential.
So the government was interested in it because of the —?
Because [???], because, yeah, because Germany depends completely from the import. And this is a way for example if you are cooperating with other countries that this joint cooperation might be, might be a good start for political negotiation to do something. So that means —
Say for instance with say Argentina, on their continental shelf. A collaboration in that way?
In Argentina, when I started in Argentina the work, the initiative to go there was a poor scientific, was a poor scientific target, because at that time I was really convinced that, what is that off Argentina we should have a volcanic margin. And in order to prove this hypothesis, I made this survey. Sure. There is something always also behind, was always behind how do you, what is the hydrocarbon potential of these type of margins. But first you need some information. So when we planned this cruise to go to Argentina, the reason for that was that we had some indications at that time that we could expect is a batch of sea [???] tipping reflectors underlying the continental margin of Argentina. And that was the reason when I moved there. You know, Lamont was already in the early days Lamont was also dealing with these volcanic margins. Manik Talwani was very much interested, and then John Mutter as a Ph.D. student came to Lamont and he had done a lot of work before on the Australian margin. So then he worked for his Ph.D. thesis he worked on the Norwegian margin on data which they have acquired, and we have also acquired data. We have also acquired data. So it means there was always a big interest in this type of volcanic margins. And from my cruise I really became aware; I became really convinced that the volcanic margins are widespread after my cruise in the Antarctic. That was I think the first [???] — No, the second I think. Monticello’s [?] seismic cruise in Antarctic waters that made in 1978. And then we discovered this typical feature, and then I looked through all our data, then I say, “Ah. This is always the same,” and then I published a paper. But there were some people who already were thinking in the same way. That was Dave Roberts, which was Talwani, Mutter I think. Who else? Could be Dave Roberts, Montader from France. Alright, and I came that I published this small paper on the volcanic margins, yes? And showed where we observed such features. And still now, and still this is a phenomenon [?]. It’s a geological problem which is not understood. Yes, we know now that these things are widespread, but the reason for this excessive [???] production is not well understood, still not well understood. There are a lot of things going on. What else we have done, this Lamont. It was initiated by Manik and it came from our cooperative work of Norway. These two ships experiment together with, well Manik was at that time director of — there were a lot of contacts, a lot of exchange of ideas, and really cooperative programs. And these programs that one was these North Atlantic travels which we made with Prospector [?] and Fred H. Moore, and then later we made again one experiment, two ships experiment together with John Mutter. That was in Norwegian Greenland traverse [?] project. Which I think really, really, really successful. Then we worked together in the preparations of these OMD Atlases. You know these things. Yes, there was one that was a cooperation with Dennis Hayes for the Moroccan OMD Atlas, another one was cooperation with Labreck [?] on the Antarctic, OMD Atlas. I think that was a very stimulating time. That was a, yeah, there was a good cooperation with Boris Stouffers [?], who was at that time he was the head of the processing center or something. Probably I have forgotten. So, nevertheless it was for me always very stimulating to meet and to talk with the scientists from Lamont. It was, also we had some different ideas or so, yes. So we [???] there was also exchange of ideas for the South China Sea where have done a lot of work. And what else? There were plans. There was a plan once to cooperate also with them in the Russian Arctic, but due to political problems we made the survey ourselves in cooperation with the Russian institute that we have — Hmm?
Because the Americans couldn’t get clearance or access to that area, or because of the U.S. government wouldn’t let them —?
Yes. It appears when we were thinking about that, I got some signs that the responsible ministries for the permission, for the scientific permission, that they would consider this as very serious. So then I said no, no risk at all, you know. But nevertheless I think this — So it means the last times, the last years [???] thinking of peer [?] we had not. There were, there was some plans to cooperate on the, on studies on the variation of the oceanic crustal structure. But Lamont was not funded. So that means we had problems to process and to interpret all the data which we had acquired, and so there was an agreement at Lamont or was planned that Lamont should process some of our data and that we should bring them together. We also had plans for example for a 3-D seismic survey in the Deep Atlantic, which nobody has really done. Three-Ds out on oceanic crustal structure. But there were many plans. So it was, Lamont was not funded, and then when came the changes I think the, when Maury [?] left, then Lamont had the first real re-structuring. Then Lamont changed the name, and now John Mutter is into it with us. No, he is not [???]. I think [???] [???] that he is now the assistant director of whatever his alternate.
What about collaboration with the Russians? You had that one Arctic program, but —
I can tell you how this works. In 1974, about that, we were one of the first groups who made reconnaissance surveys in the Barents Sea. And this research we are already encouraging. And I need say also contribute to the, contribute, that might be also together with other data, initiated the industrial research of the Barents Brown [?] Sea. And I was already in this time we had plans to move more to the east. That means including also the Cara [?] Sea. And there was what they called a German-Russian economic commission in the ‘70s, and there I was involved. We prepared a plan for a big project to investigate the structure, the geology of the [???] Sea and already [???]. But this was not, we were unable to realize that project due to the island, due to — Then I always tried it again and tried it again. I met Russians colleagues and told them, and they said yes, right, and [???], but no reaction at all. When the change occurred in Russia, I contacted the former Russian company and said, “We have this and this plans and is that possible to cooperate?” And so this was possible. We made it. And then we ran the first 1993 [?] in the Labrador Sea.
Did they say why in the past it had not gone through?
No. In the past you know what there was. There was this idle [?] war, yes?
So it was just they didn’t want any sort of —
Nobody was allowed, yes?
And so then we established some type of cooperate. That means we used the Russian ship, we paid the [???] costs, but we are working together on this data. And then in 1994 we made a second cruise in this region, because this region is very attractive also from the scientific point of view. The mid-Arctic ridge runs into the continent, yes, and the question is what happens. That means the question is what is rifting [?]. And so then we, and we acquired new data, but this is an area you have no [???], you have nothing. That means it’s really frontier. And yeah, last year I made the third cruise in this region. And now I hope we will get some more data and we will improve our understanding, but we are far away what is really going on, yes? So the data quality appears to be very good. We are still in the stage of processing, and then we will see. I consider this region as scientifically highly interesting. I consider this region as a really vast region. Large, large area, yes? I consider this region also as a prospective region. And this is important to know, yeah? Yeah, there is surely. Now I worked on a lot of problems, but you know —
How did you get involved in scientific advising for the government, for these ministries? How did that come about? Were you elected, or is this considered service?
I think this is from the survey and from the position, yes? Then you become somebody propose you and then you become [???], yes. So since I do not know, I think since the early ‘70s I was the German advisor for the what you call CCOP [Coordinated Committee for Coastal and Offshore Geoscientific Progammes in East and Southeast Asia], for the — that’s also mentioned there, for these countries in Southeast Asia. What means advice, you are attending these meetings and then they prepare some plans and then you can say, “Yes, I feel so and so.” Also we have done a lot of work there, and so that means —
Are you speaking for your country, for Germany, or for this research institute, or for —?
As an advisor I am talking, I am speaking or judging their plans. Not for Germany. Germany’s policies, in this position when I am for example for this institute to give advice I have to think what is good for Germany. As an advisor for example as an advisor for the CCOP countries I have to speak for these countries all. I have to provide them with my opinion, my personal opinion what I think. That’s all, yeah? That carries only opinion, nothing more. Alright, then you move into these advisory bodies, and I do not know how long I was a member of the DSDP/ODP panels, yes? But I was in the tectonic panel for a long time before I was in the continental, in the margin, continental margin panel, and I was in the tectonic panel. After that I was in the site survey panel, and still I am in the site survey panel, and now I think this July is my last meeting, yes?
Then I rotate out.
What [???] this story.
This tape. The tape will be put at AIP, the American Institute of Physics in the Niels Bohr Library, and so researchers — Well, I’ll give you a form to fill out that says how you want access restricted or left open so that researchers can come and either use them now or wait a certain period of time.
Well you see only that was like a talk with this coffee, drinking and smoking.
No, but I have really to say that was for me, for my professional career it was very important that I had this meeting in the mid-’60s to meet these institutions, yes.
Because of the contacts?
For my present [?], yeah.
And you kept those contacts up throughout your career?
Yeah. Well, and then now in Germany we have —