What did Eduard Suess suggest a toast?

Three monuments to Eduard Suess that nobody knows

Today the white marble bust of the scholar is clearly visible next to the high-jet fountain on Vienna's Schwarzenbergplatz, and sometimes it is gently moistened by its spray. Eduard Suess should be grateful, especially on hot days. But said memorial was only unveiled on September 19, 1928. That came just in time for the annual meeting of the German Geological Society, which was meeting in Vienna at the time. The memorial was then removed during the Nazi era, as Suess had Jewish roots in his family.

On June 12, 1951, 120 years after his birth, the Suess memorial was erected again, this time next to the Palais Rasumofsky, the then seat of the Federal Geological Institute. His daughter-in-law, Olga Suess, did not agree; she preferred a place near the university where Suess taught. But since 1969 the memorial has been back on Schwarzenbergplatz; Olga Suess died in 1972 and has lived through it.

Spring aqueduct and public health

Contaminated drinking water, which in the middle of the 19th century came mainly from domestic wells, led to a high mortality rate in Vienna. Suess, who published a Geology of Vienna in 1862 and knew the underground of the city very well, stated in his "Memoirs": "Since the most dangerous pollution, namely that of organic origin, sticks to people's homes, infiltration areas had to be sought These were only present on the plateaus of the Alps, and the question now was whether the sources at the foot of these plateaus (Schneeberg, Rax, etc.) should be suggested despite their distance. "

For this ambitious project, Mayor Andreas Zelinka (1802–1868) brought him to the water supply commission in March 1863. On July 12, 1864, the commission submitted a motion to the Vienna City Council that "the unification and distribution of the sources of the Kaiserbrunnen, von Stixenstein and the Alta spring" should not only be aimed at, but also "carried out as soon as possible". The length of the line to be built was given as 112 kilometers. As a result, the planning was pushed ahead, and the caricatures of Suess by his colleagues Guido Stache and Carl Maria Paul, who honor him as a hero, also fall into this phase.

The municipal council received the project for assessment on May 25, 1866; the decision was made on June 19, 1866. Construction began on December 6, 1869, although the emperor did not break the ground until April 21, 1870.

The aqueduct, opened in the world exhibition year of 1873, had a lasting effect: "Fifteen years later, when the new aqueduct was introduced in 91 percent of the houses, the senior medical officer, Prof. Drasche, estimated the total reduction in typhus deaths to 7,961, the number before 1867 -73, 34.21 in 1,000 deaths and in the same period up to 1888 only 9.44. The water was only discharged gradually. "

The "New Free Figaro" - a geological beer leaf

The two geologists Guido Stache (1833–1921) and Carl Maria Paul (1838–1900) from the k. k. Geological Reichsanstalt not only had a sense of humor, they also knew how to draw. Between the autumn of 1865 and 1866 they published the "New Free Figaro" a total of 18 times. "A single splendid copy is published every Tuesday and is not for sale." The price was affordable: "For single numbers, a friendly grin is sufficient as payment, for double numbers with supplements a loud and unaffected laugh is required." The content was about current topics from the world of geology at the time, which were humorously recorded with a sharp pen. The humorous weekly "Figaro", which appeared from 1857 to 1919, served as a template.

The Prinz Eugen monument as inspiration

In number 3 of November 21, 1865 we find Eduard Suess (alias Eduardo Dulci) in the victory pose of Prince Eugene. Its monument, created by Dominik Fernkorn, was unveiled a month earlier, on October 18, 1865, by Emperor Franz Joseph on Heldenplatz in Vienna. It can be assumed that Stache found inspiration here as the architect of the "Suess Monument in a heroic conception and in the primeval Renaissance style". The medallions bear two inscriptions, on the one hand: "To the wise councilor of three mayors. The victor over all newspaper pascha. The conqueror of the old viper" and on the other hand: "Florentis Zelinka duce Vindobonae grati cives sitientes Eduardo Dulci convivi qui ex Alpium pedibus trium fontium aquam dulcem conductam ingenies & consilio et eloquentia polita splendita, suavi in ​​urbem tulit hoc monumentum posuerunt."

And here is the modest attempt at a translation: "The honorable citizens of Vienna, which was flourishing under the leadership of the Zelinka, had Eduard Suess, who brought the sweet water of three springs together from the foot of the Alps ingeniously and both with plan and magnificently turned, as the thirsty of the banquet and brought sweet rhetoric to town, erected this monument. "

From the Donauweibchen fountain in Vienna's city park ...

In number 5 of December 5, 1865, draft number two follows. "The three-source male as a counterpart to the female Danube. Suess monument in an idyllic view based on Gasser motifs in a semi-antique style by the architect Stache." Again, a currently erected monument served as a template. The Donauweibchen fountain by Hans Gasser (1817–1868) was unveiled on September 30, 1865 as the first monument in Vienna's city park. The three sources mentioned here are the Alta spring in Brunn near Pitten, the Stixenstein spring near Sieding in the municipality of Ternitz and the Kaiserbrunnen in Höllental. The Alta spring was acquired by the municipality of Vienna. The Stixenstein spring, like the Kaiserbrunnen, came into the possession of the municipality of Vienna as a gift from the owners, Count Ernst Karl von Hoyos-Sprinzenstein or Emperor Franz Joseph.

... to the Theseus group by Antonio Canova

The third draft of appreciation was published on February 20, 1866 in the geological Bierblatt. "The Suess defeats Mino-lupus. Third draft for a Suess memorial after Canova-Paul carried out by the architect Stache." The title needs explanation and leads to Greek mythology. "Mino-lupus" (composed of the Greek minotaur and the Latin expression lupus for wolf) refers to the geologist Heinrich Wolf (1825–1882), a colleague of Stache and Paul an der k. k. Geological Reichsanstalt.

Wolf had presented an alternative to Suess' water supply and proposed to take water from springs in Jedlesee, on the left bank of the Danube (today Vienna Floridsdorf). "Canova-Paul" is an allusion to the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757–1822) and the geologist Paul mentioned.

In contrast to the other two drafts, there was no current occasion. The Theseus group, completed in 1819, was acquired by Emperor Franz I in Rome. She came to Vienna via Belgrade in the spring of 1822. It was initially set up in the Theseus temple in the Volksgarten. It was not until the completion of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in 1890 that the group found its place on the grand staircase there, where it can be viewed today. (Thomas Hofmann, October 22, 2020)

Thomas Hofmann is the head of the library, the publishing house and the archive of the Federal Geological Institute and a freelance author.


  • New Suitor Figaro (All Editions)
  • Suess, E. (1862): The soil of the city of Vienna according to its mode of formation, condition and its relationship to bourgeois life: A geological study. - VII + 326 p., Ill., Braumüller, Vienna.
  • Suess, E. (1916): Memories. - IX + 451 pp., 6 ills., Hirzel, Leipzig.

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