Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Adventures on the Return to Beloved Italy

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Adventures on the Return to Beloved Italy

Article excerpt

For his return to Italy, Gerhard first crossed Sweden by train in order to board a freight steamer in the port of Malmö, at the southwest tip of the country. The ship would travel to Amsterdam, with a 24-hour stopover in London, so he planned to see his younger sister, Marion, who had reached England in 1933. Earlier, she had been a technician in a medical clinical lab in Frankfurt. Gerhard had managed to find a position for her through a friend in Cambridge, in the laboratory of the well-known vitamin specialist, Leslie J. Harris. In Cambridge, she later met and married Dr. Ernest Childs, a scientist in the Agricultural Research Council and the School of Agriculture of the University of Cambridge. She was delighted with the possibility of seeing her brother on his voyage.

Gerhard also planned that, once he reached Amsterdam, he would travel over land, with a stop in Paris to visit the uncle of his Frankfurt friend Ernest Bueding,1 in part to explore the possibility of a longer term scientific position in France.

The travel across Sweden began without incident. On reaching Malmö at about 7:30 a.m. one morning, with his freight steamer not due to leave until 3 p.m., Gerhard carried a suitcase, knapsack, and his cello from the railroad station to the nearby port. He passed several wharfs and came to one on which he saw a sign saying, "Next Mail Boat to Copenhagen leaving 8:15." He calculated that he had ample time to take advantage of the close proximity of Malmö to Copenhagen, just an hour and a half away by this mail boat, where he would be able to visit a family friend who might be able to help him in his search for a permanent appointment. The friend was "a very wealthy owner of a big grain mill, who was very much interested in chemistry, and had consulted very often, for the past four years, my father, who was an organic chemist. This man had his own laboratory and cultivated chemistry as a hobby. His name was Dr. Trönsgaard. He was particularly interested in cleavage of proteins in anhydrous media because he had found a product of this cleavage which gave the pyrrole reaction for ring compounds. He developed, on this basis, a theory, now completely abandoned, of cyclic structures being the backbone of protein structure. Since my father was a specialist in pyrroles-he had been a student of Knorr, who was particularly well-known for introducing the anti-fever drug Pyramidone [antipyrine]-Dr. Trönsgaard had been terribly nice to my parents. He invited them once on a marvelous trip, to accompany him to Switzerland. He paid all the expenses-the best hotels-for, I think, two weeks. So I thought, in the present situation, I'd at least say hello to him in Copenhagen. So I managed, in great haste, to bring my suitcase and the cello, already, to the steamboat and then run back to that wharf. I had just time to take a ticket to Copenhagen and went to the mail boat."

On the mail boat he noted a timetable and, confident in his understanding of Swedish by then, he concluded that the next return trip would leave Copenhagen at 12:50 and he would be back in Malmö a bit after 2:00 o'clock, leaving ample time to get to the boat to London. When he arrived in Copenhagen, he called Dr. Trönsgaard, who was at home and told him he was most welcome to visit. With only a few hundred kroner, about a hundred and fifty dollars, he reasoned, "Well, in my situation it doesn't pay to pinch pennies. Now I'm going to visit a millionaire interested in science, telling him that I just had been dismissed from a German university because of Hitler, and so on. There might be here an opening for me for a much better position than the offering in Florence." So he spent money for a taxi for the trip to a most magnificent house on an exclusive boulevard several miles from the port.

Trönsgaard bade him a very warm welcome, but immediately opened with, "You see we have recently moved to this modest home because business is not too good." Gerhard was "sobered in his dreaming. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.