Chemistry as a Single Institute in the Chemistry Building at the Karl-Franzens University Site (1878-1943)

The chemistry building was placed at Universitätsplatz 1 (= Halbärthgasse 5 = Schubertstrasse 1)

Photo of the institute (about 1880) - frontside .... Engraving of the institute (about 1880) - backside
At the opening this institute was called the "most modern chemistry institute of that time".

Time Chairmen, coworkers and events Portraits, photos and links

Under the guidance of Leopold von PEBAL, who was already head of the institute since 1865, the new chemistry institute was planned which was called the "best planned chemical laboratory of Europe at this time" (handbook of architecture by E. Schmitt). It was used as model for many other university laboratories, e.g. in Strassbourg, Zürich and Berlin.

In the years between 1877 and 1886 many discussions took place about the splitting of this new and excellent chemistry building between the university and the university of technology. Especially Richard Mally, professor of physiological chemistry at the university of technology made efforts to get rooms and labs there. In 1886 the ministery stopped these discussions and planned a new building at the university of technology.

In Pebal´s era the number of students increased enormously (more than 60 students and many scholarships with funds), which was one of the reasons for the new chemistry building. In 1887 Pebal was murdered by a dismissed laboratory assistant on the way from the institute to his appartments.

Pebal's research field was wide-spread: Although his interest was directed mainly to physical chemistry, he also worked on organic chemistry (citric acid), applied chemistry (construction of a gas burner), theoretical chemistry (chemical bonding), inorganic chemistry (oxidation products of chlorine) and physical chemistry (electrochemical investigations). During his era in Graz he worked mainly about the last two themes, but because of the planning work for the new chemistry building, no publication was published between 1865 and 1875.

Pebal´s efforts to build up a chemistry school in Graz with specialists for all chemistry fields, was successful, an in his era a number of chemists got their venia legendi:

Organic and pharmaceutical chemistry in research and teaching was done by Hugo SCHRÖTTER (born 1856 in Olmütz, +1911 in Graz). He was student of Lieben, Kekule, Volhard and Emil Fischer and got his doctoral degree in Halle/Wittenberg in 1882. At the university of Graz he got his venia in 1885 (after some troubles with Pebal, but supported by Kekule). Later he was temporary head of the institute. His research field was the structure elucidation of natural products such as morphine, campher and cholesterol. Schrötter was the first chemist at the university of Graz whose work was directed to modern organic chemistry due to his education at the most important chemists of this time.

Karl von GARZAROLLI, (born 1854 in Linz/D, +1906 in Vienna), was student of Gottlieb and Pebal, and he got his doctoral degree in 1881 in Freiburg/Breisgau. In 1882 he got his venia, and since 1894 he was professor of chemistry and did research work mainly in metallorganic chemistry (zinc alkyles) and inorganic chemistry (oxidation products of chlorine).

Gustav SCHACHERL, (born 1853 in Sternberg/Mähren) got his doctoral degree in 1877 at the university of Graz as student of Pebal. The venia he got in 1984. He worked together with Pebal in the field of inorganic and organic acids. Schacherl was the first real student of Pebal, who had studied at the university, got his doctoral degree here and also the venia under Pebal´s guidance.

Physical chemistry was done by Max JAHN (born 1853 in Küstrin, Germany; +1906 in Berlin), was student of A. W. Hofmann, Bunsen and Kirchhoff. Jahn got his doctoral degree in 1875 in Heidelberg. In 1877 he got his venia in Vienna. Since 1884 he was at the university of Graz. His research work dealt with electrochemistry.

Pictures of lecture rooms and laboratories at 1880

Pic. of Pebal
Leopold von Pebal

After Pebal's death Gustav Schacherl was for a short time temporary head of the chemistry institute. In the following years all assistants of Pebal (except Schrötter) left the chemistry institute of the university of Graz; so the start of a continuous chemical school had failed.


Zdenko Hans SKRAUP (born 1850 in Prag, +1910 in Vienna ) followed as head of the institute after Pebal. He got his doctoral degree in Giessen in 1875 and his venia in 1879 (chemistry of plant contents, at the university of technology in Vienna). In 1881 he got the venia at the university of Vienna (constitution of alkaloids). He was student of Rochleder and Lieben, former professor of chemistry at the University of Technology of Graz. His research interest was organic chemistry, mainly carbohydrates and alkaloids, and his quinoline synthesis (published 1880 in Monatsh. Chem., 1, 316 (1880). is known to every organic chemist. Another field of his interest was the development of capillary analysis, a precursor of paper chromatography. In 1903/4 he was rector of the university. In 1906 Skraup moved to Vienna as follower of Lieben.

Because of the rising number of students at the new institute and changes in the curriculum of pharmacy, there were not enough laboratory places (the ministery gave some rooms to other institutes such as pathology and histology), and it needed rather long (15 years) until it was possible to get funds for necessary adaptions in the chemistry building (such as some basic electricity for the equipment). Skraup was successful in increasing the staff (3 assistants, some auxiliary assistants, 2 laboratory helpers and funds for students). Skraup made also efforts for an extraordinary professor of physical chemistry and a better mathematical education of the students, but the ministery refused. So he motivated successfully his student and assistant Robert KREMANN to get an education in this branch.

Besides Skraup, Hugo SCHRÖTTER was appointed in 1892 as extraordinary professor of organic and pharmaceutical chemistry at the chemistry institute.

In Skraups era many chemists got the venia legendi for chemistry:

Ferdinand A. H. HENRICH (born 1871 in Wiesbaden, +1945 in Erlangen), was student of V. Meyer, K. Auwers Gattermann, Baeyer and Knoevenagel. In 1894 he got his doctoral degree in Heidelberg. In Graz he got the venia for organic and physical chemistry in 1897, and again in 1901. In 1904 he moved to Erlangen as professor of inorganic-analytical chemistry . His research fields were inorganic, organic and theoretical chemistry (stereochemistry of terpenes).

Franz J. HEMMELMAYR (born 1869 in Graz, +1939 in Graz) studied chemistry at the university of techmology in Graz and in Prag. He got his degree as teacher in 1891 in Graz and his doctoral degree in 1894 in Leipzig. He got his venia in 1903. His research field was organic chemistry (glycosides such as ononine). In 1908 he got the title of an extraordinary professor of chemistry, and in 1923 he was appointed as full professor of chemistry at the university of technology of Graz.

Robert KREMANN, later head of the new physico-chemical institute.

One of the most famous students of Skraup was Fritz PREGL. He was one of the six Nobel prize winners of the University of Graz and got this distinction for his microanalysis.

Original article of Skraup´s quinoline synthesis (in part)

Pic. of Skraup
Zdenko H. Skraup
Pic. of Hemmelmayr
Franz J. Hemmelmayr

Newspaper article about Pregl (in German).

After Skraup had moved to the University of Vienna, the organic and pharmaceutical chemist Hugo SCHRÖTTER (data) was temporary head of the chemistry institute together with the physicochemist Robert KREMANN (venia and data) (later chairman of physical chemistry).

Pic. of Schrötter
Hugo Schrötter

In this era Roland SCHOLL (born 1865 in Zürich, +1945 in Eilenburg, Germany) was head of the institute. His uncle was the famous Johannes Wislicenus, who influenced him to study chemistry in his lab in Würzburg. Later he studied at the ETH Zürich as student of Hantzsch and got his doctoral degree here in 1890. In 1893 he got his venia both at the university and the ETH Zürich. Since 1896 he did research at the university of technology in Karlsruhe. His early research area was the field of oximes and nitriles. Many research results in cooperation with the industry dealt with dyes such as indanthron. His most famous research field were fused aromatic ring systems such as pyrene, perylene and coronene. So Scholl developed in 1910 in Graz the synthesis of perylene from naphthalene and aluminiumchloride.

Scholl worked in Graz until 1914, then he attended at the first world war. In 1917 Scholl moved to the university of Dresden because of continued conflicts with the ministery (troubles with a glass-blower next to the university and attempts of a chemist to obtain the venia), however, he had continued contact to his former students Zinke, Weitzenböck and Dischendorfer.

In contrast to his predecessors, Scholl was not interested in teaching students in the lab, his only interest was the scientific work of his coworkers. He was interested in the foundation of physical chemistry in Graz, similar as Skraup. In Scholl´s era additional laboratory places were installed, and most of the funds of Scholl´s appointment were used for electric equipment. The number of the staff members were not increased in this time.

In Scholl's era, Richard WEITZENBÖCK (born 1884 in Kremsmünster, + in first world war) obtained his doctoral degree as student of Scholl in 1907. In 1913 he got his venia legendi for organic chemistry. He worked on the synthesis of pyrene.

Pic. of Scholl
Roland Scholl

From 1914-1916 and 1916-17, Anton SKRABAL, later head of the institute, was temporary director, because Scholl was in the first world war.


Head of the institute in this era was Anton SKRABAL (born 1877 in Vienna, +1957 in Graz). He was student of Vortmann and Wegscheider (Vienna) and got there his doctoral degree in 1903. In 1905 he got his venia (inorganic and analytical chemistry) and 1912 (physical chemistry) at the university of technology of Vienna. His main research interest was inorganic and physical chemistry. He was one of the last chemists who have represented the whole chemistry both in teaching and research.

After the end of the first world war, the number of students increased enormously because of participants of thefirst world war who began now their study, and on the other hand many women started also to study chemistry. So there were about 200 students for 120 lab places. In the first years after the first world war, the economic situation of the chemistry institute was very bad because chemicals, equipment and all things for a regular education were missing. In this time, Skrabal made great efforts to overcome these difficulties. However, in later years Skrabal did not take care about things in need of repair. So in this era the chemistry institute became a rather old fashioned building, e.g. the laboratory equipment was not improved and until 1943 no electric light was installed in the laboratories.

In this era also the trend of specialization succeeded: in 1923 the institute of physical and theoretical chemistry was separated from the chemistry institute (head: Robert KREMANN).

From 1941-1943 the institute of pharmaceutical chemistry was separated (head: Alois ZINKE). In 1943 Skrabal retired and the chemistry institute was splitted again and in 1945 the institute of organic chemistry was combined with pharmaceutical chemistry and finally separated from the institute of inorganic and analytical chemistry.

Organic and pharmaceutical chemistry was done in Skrabal's era in the first years by Franz FALTIS (born 1885 in Frankenmarkt, Upper Austria, +1963 in Vienna), who got his doctoral degree in 1907 and his venia in 1914 (inorganic and organic chemistry) in Vienna. He was professor of organic and pharmaceutical chemistry in Graz from 1919-1923. Faltis was student of Wegscheider and got his venia in 1914 in Vienna. His research area was in alkaloid chemistry.

Then Ernst PHILIPPI (born 1888 in Vienna, +1969 in Vienna) followed. He was student of Skraup and got his doctoral degree in 1910 and his venia in 1917 in Vienna. Philippi was professor of organic and pharmaceutical chemistry in Graz from 1924-1926, and because of his activity, the pharmaceutical labs got more place and better equipment. Philippi´s research area was hemocyanins and protoporphyrins.

After these 2 short periods organic and pharmaceutical chemistry was represented since 1927 by Alois ZINKE, the later head of organic and pharmaceutical chemistry .

Many other chemists got in this era the venia legendi, those related to physical chemistry are listed at the physical chemistry pages.

Those related to analytical, inorganic, organic and pharmaceutical chemistry are listed below:

Alexander ROLLETT (born 1887 in Graz, +1980 in Graz) got his doctoral degree in 1920 and his venia in 1929 in organic chemistry (natural resins and azo dyes), but later he worked in inorganic chemistry and in the construction of chemical apparatus). Since 1924 Rollett was responsible for the administration of the chemistry institute.

Franz HÖLZL (born 1982 in St. Gallen/Styria, +1976 in Graz) got his doctoral degree as student of Skrabal in 1922 and the venia in 1927 for inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry. His research work dealt mainly with complex chemistry and electrolytic investigations of complex salts. Later he worked at the organic and pharmaceutical institute.

Otto DISCHENDORFER (born 1890 in Wels, +1967 in Graz) got his doctoral degree in 1913 as student of Scholl and Seer. In 1927 he got his venia legendi for organic chemistry. In the first years he worked in cooperation with Scholl on dyes, later his research field were natural products and then phenol-aldehyde resins.

Konrad FUNKE (born 1896 in Mattsee, +1975 in Linz) got his doctoral degree in 1924 in Vienna. Later he moved to the university of technology of Graz, and then to the university of Graz. Here he got the venia legendi for pharmaceutical chemistry in 1932 as coworker of Zinke. His research fields were polyfused aromatic compounds. Later he moved to the industry (Chemie Linz).

Alfred PONGRATZ (born 1897 in Graz, +1976 in Graz) got his doctoral degree in 1925 at the university of technology in Graz. First he followed Zinke to the university of Graz and got in 1931 the venia legendi for organic chemistry; his research field were fused aromatic systems such as perylene. 1940 he moved to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-institute in Berlin.

Norbert SCHNIDERSCHITSCH (born 1893 in Rann/South Styria, + 1979 in Graz) got his doctoral degree in 1915 as student of Skrabal. He obtained his venia legendi in 1929 for the history of pharmacy. His research interest was in the field of pharmaceutic galenics.

Eduard KOPETSCHNI (born 1888 in Mödling/Vienna, + 1940 in Graz) got his doctoral degree in 1910 as student of Witt in at the university of technology in Berlin. He obtained in 1923 the venia legendi for organic chemistry and was also coworker of BASF, his research dealt with organic dyes.

It was planned during the nazi regime (similar as 1880 and 1920) to combine the chemistry institutes of the Karl-Franzens university and the university of technology to one large "chemistry institute". As first step it was planned to use a similar course of study at both universities. But nothing of these ideas was performed because of the end of second world war.

Pic. of Skrabal
Anton Skrabal
Pic. of Faltis
Franz Faltis
Pic. of Philippi
Ernst Philippi
Pic. of Hölzl
Franz Hölzl