S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Hermann (also Herrmann), Dr Paul (geology)

Born: 17 February 1877, Dresden, Germany.
Died: 1956, Neckargemünd, Germany.

Paul Hermann, a German geologist, should not be confused with another P. Hermann, a German traveller in German South West Africa (now Namibia) during the 1880s. The latter described his experiences in two papers, "Ein Ritt durch das südwestafrikanische Schutzgebiet" and "Aus Südwestafrika", published in the Deutsche Kolonialzeitung in 1888 and 1889 respectively.

Paul Hermann studied mining and geology in Freiberg (Sachsen), Heidelberg, and Freiburg im Breisgau, graduating as a mining engineer in 1900. Four years later he was awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy in geology at Rostock, Germany. He was one of several German government geologists sent to Namibia from 1903 onwards. However, he first worked in central Africa, publishing a paper on the volcanic region of the central African Rift Valley (1904), and another on a new eruption of the "Kinru" volcano. He then worked in Namibia from 1906 to 1908. His geological work there led to four publications. The first, "Beitrag zur Geologie von Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika" (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft, 1908), comprising a number of short, poorly organised local studies, represented only the second attempt, after that of F.W. Voit*, to establish a stratigraphic scheme for the geological successions encountered. This was followed by "Über die Geologie des Hererolandes" (Jahresbericht der Freiberger Geologischen Gesellschaft, 1909) and two papers in the Zeitschrift für Praktische Geologie, one an excellent and detailed study of the geological nature of the middle and northern parts of the German Kalahari (1909), the other a petrographic, lithologic and palaeontological study of the Kalahari chalk and its index fossils (1910). After his return to Germany he studied chemistry and worked mainly in testing laboratories. In 1911 he married Margareta von Schönberg. During his stay in Namibia he had kept a diary and in 1934 reworked it into a manuscript which was eventually published in 2003.

List of sources:
Hall, A.L. A bibliography of South African geology to the end of 1920. Pretoria: Geological Survey, Memoir No. 18, 1922.

Hillebrecht, W. Unpublished notes for a Dictionary of Namibian biography. National Archives of Namibia, Windhoek, June 2004.

Hugo, P.J., Schalk, K.E.L. & Barnes, S.J. Bibliography of South West African/Namibian earth science. Windhoek: Geological Survey, 1983.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West African Geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

South African Committee for Stratigraphy (SACS). Stratigraphy of South Africa. Part 1: Lithostratigraphy... (pp. 321-323). Pretoria: Geological Survey, Handbook 8, 1980.

Compiled by: C. Plug