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Eduard Suess

SUESS, EDUARD (1831–1914), Austrian geologist and politician. Suess was born in London, the son of a Christian father and a Jewish mother, but spent most of his life in Austria. He became an assistant at the Hofmuseum in Vienna in 1852, and five years later joined the staff of the University of Vienna, where he held the chair of geology from 1867 to 1901. While his early specialty was invertebrate paleontology, once he began teaching at the university, he devoted himself mainly to geology. His study of the formation of the Alps, Die Entstehung der Alpen, appeared in 1875, but his great work was Das Antlitz der Erde (4 vols., 1885–1907; Face of the Earth, 1904–09), which had a major influence on modern geotectonics. Investigating geological, geographical, and historical sources from all countries, Suess was – and remains – the only researcher ever to master singlehandedly the regional geological literature of the entire world.

A liberal in politics, Suess was elected to the provincial diet of Lower Austria in 1869, and for over 30 years from 1873 was a deputy for Vienna in the lower house of the Austrian parliament. He was president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences from 1898 to 1911. Although he always declared that he was not a Jew, he was a member of the Austrian association for defense against antisemitism.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.