Short Portrait: Adolf Friedrich

Adolf Friedrich
Adolf Friedrich

Adolf Friedrich was born in Hofheim in 1914. He comes from a family of peasants and craftsmen.

After finishing school in Frankfurt/Main, Friedrich studied Anthropology, Indology and Ancient History between 1933 and 1938. Leo Frobenius was among his teachers. Friedrich developed a special interest in religious phenomena. In 1938 he completed his Ph D thesis on African priesthoods.

During Word War II Friedrich had to serve as a soldier but could continue his scientific work and researches. Therefore he was able to finish his habilitation thesis in 1942/43. Moreover, his regional interest began to focus on Central and Norther Asia.

After World War II Friedrich began lecturing at the Frobenius Institute in Frankfurt as well as at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University in Mainz. In 1947 he took up a professorship at the newly founded Department of Anthropology and African Studies in Mainz. 
He participated at the first meeting of German anthropologists after WW II (Frankfurt/Main, 19.-21.09.1946).

Friedrichs ongoing research on shamanism, the cosmology of ethnic groups and their ancestors in Central Asia made him an expert for these anthropological topics. Moreover, he organized an expedition to the region of Congo, which took part between 1951 and 1954.

In 1955 Friedrich became head of an expedition through Central asian countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. During this research trip, Friedrich died of a heart failure in 1956.

(Text by Vincenz Kokot based on an article at; photo source: Obituary by Nachtigall, in: ZfE 1956, Vol. 81)

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