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Cold cases in Antarctic history

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Some events of the Heroic era are not well known or almost forgotten. This presentation will introduce you to the second German expedition in 1911 – 1912 and the conflict between an Austrian Antarctic explorer and Ernest Shackleton. The second German expedition started with great hopes and motivation but the course of this endeavour ended in a disaster. Wilhelm Filchner, the expedition leader, was confronted with a strong opposition on board and several events brought the expedition on the brink of a total collapse. One member on that expedition, Felix König, wanted to continue this expedition where it ended and came in conflict with Ernest Shackleton because both events should happen at the same spot at the same time in the Weddell Sea. World War One broke out but Shackleton could proceed with his Endurance expedition. König ended up in a prison camp in Siberia and could escape in June 1918 but saw the Antarctic never again.

Ursula is a researcher for Polar history at Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury. She conducted her doctoral research on the social history of polar expeditions at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, and the University of Vienna and was awarded a PhD in 2009. Her research interests are social and environmental history based on personal accounts such as diaries and correspondence. She is the recipient of a COMNAP fellowship for the research project “Reconstructing historic Antarctic climate data from logbooks and diaries of the Heroic era” in 2012/13. Following her expertise, Ursula was involved in the Deep South National Science Challenge: ACRE Antarctica Data Rescue until September 2017. Ursula has been awarded the New Zealand Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship 2018 for her research project: “Frozen History: researching, collecting and communicating Antarctic History.”

This talk is part of the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute lecture series series.

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