Erwin Friedrich Theodor Stresemann, DR. PHIL (1889-1972)

Published on 01 February 1973 in Obituaries

Looking back over more than half a lifetime, I recollect the international ornithological scene being increasingly dominated by the debonair figure of my near-contemporary, Erwin Stresemann of the museum at Berlin. I first met him at the VII International Ornitholocal Congress at Amsterdam in 1930, when he read a keynote paper on the anatomy and physiology of birds. He was currently (1927-34) publishing one of the great technical bibles of our subject, the volume on ‘Aves’ in the Handbuch der Zoologie (volume 7, part 2) edited by Kiikenthal and Krumbach. He was at that meeting elected as the next international president. So at the VIII Congress at Oxford in 1934 he was our president at the early age of 44–and there was dancing in the hall of Exeter College, to the music of the Coldstream Guards, for the first time (it was said) for six hundred years. In his address, he reviewed the ornithological events of the half-century since the first international meeting in Vienna in 1884. Although his interests were by no means confined to the museum, he was primarily a systematist, and I have no competence to assess his contribution in that special sphere. I think of him, however, as having a particular interest in Indonesia and in the flycatchers there which make it so difficult to determine a familial separation between that group and the warblers. During 1939-41 he published (in the Journal fur Ornitkologie) a big zoogeographical paper on the birds of the Celebes; much later,

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