Short Portrait: Georg Höltker

Georg Höltker
Georg Höltker

Georg Höltker was born in Ahaus in 1895. Between 1910 and 1915 he attended high school at the missionary in Steyl. During World War I he had to join the German army.

After the end of World War I Höltker joined the Steyler missionaries (SVD) in 1919. He took up his theological and philosophical studies both in St. Augustin and St. Gabriel/ Mödling. Paul Schebesta was among his teachers and supported Höltkers interest in Anthropology.

In 1925 Höltker was ordained a priest and subsequently went to the Philippines. He eventually returned to Europe and worked for the Anthropos journal. Moreover, Höltker studied Anthropology both in Vienna (1926) and Berlin (1927-1929). In 1930 he graduated in Vienna, his Ph D thesis was concerned with the family structures of the Aztecs.

After a brief period at the Museo Missionario-Etnologico in Rome, Höltker became editor-in-chief of the Anthropos journal in 1931. Furthermore, he began lecturing in St. Augustin. In 1935 he also began lecturing at the Vienna University.

In 1936 Höltker joined an expedition to the high land of New Guinea. After the expedition failed due to security reason, Höltker did his own research in the Sepik region for the following three years.

In 1939 Höltker returned to Europe and was part of the Anthropos Institute relocated in Fribourg, Switzerland. Between 1943 and 1953 he lectured in Basel. Moreover, he took up a professorship at the university in Fribourg in 1948, being the successor of Wilhelm Schmidt. Due to personal reasons he resigned from this position in 1954.

In 1960 Höltker was announced professor at the Philosophical-Theological Faculty in St. Augustin near Bonn. Five years later he received the Federal Cross of Merit, a tribute to his research activities in New Guinea. He retired in 1969.

Georg Höltker died in St. Augustin in 1976.

The archive of the Anthropos Institute possesses more than 2500 photos taken and 2000 objects collected by Höltker during his field researches.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in March 2012, based on information provided by the Anthropos Institute)

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