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Erwin von Zach

Victim | 18 April 1872 | Consul / Sinologist

Erwin von ZachBorn 18 April 1872 in Vienna. At the time of his death Erwin von Zach was a retired sinologist and consul.

A detailed biography can be found here: :
Posted on 16 Jan 2007. Some quotes from this source:

.…He was born in Vienna of aristocratic parents, and his early life was peripatetic. He attended the gymnasium in Krakow (in a Polish-speaking school), in Lemburg, and finally in Vienna, at the end of which he was certified as remarkably proficient in Greek philology. Interest in the natural sciences drew him to the study of medicine at the University of Vienna beginning in 1890 … This study he varied with … mathematics, which was to remain a lifelong interest. He also studied classical Chinese under Franz Kühnert, and modern Chinese under Carl Kainz. In 1895, being then twenty-three, he became ill with appendicitis, and required an operation. To recuperate, he went first to the Tyrol and then to Holland. In Leiden, he enrolled as a special auditor in the classes of Schlegel and de Groot. …Zach seems indeed to have been substantially self-taught, not only in Chinese, but also in Tibetan and Manchu which was still the court language of China in those years.

…Von Zach went … to London to take a qualifying exam for the Chinese maritime customs service. From this career choice he never wavered. His scholarly publications would share desk space with his diplomatic duties for the next twenty-eight years. From the Chinese customs service he shifted on 27 March 1901 to the Austro-Hungarian consular service, where his language skills were desperately needed...

…In 1907, declining an offer of a Professorship of Manchu in Vladivostok, he became chief of mission in Hong Kong, and thereafter shifted to Yokohama. He returned to Vienna in 1909 to defend the Lexicographische Beiträge as a dissertation. There being at this time no Sinologist in Vienna, von Zach was examined by Leopold von Schröder, a Sanskritist, and Maximilian Bittner, a Semiticist. He returned to the diplomatic field as chief of mission in Singapore…

…1919 marked the end of … the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Von Zach was pensioned off. He was almost fifty, and almost broke. …efforts to find him an academic post in America … came to nothing. Instead, von Zach went to work for the Dutch consular service in the Netherlands East Indies…

…He resigned from the Dutch service in 1925 to live as a private person in Weltevreden … dedicating himself thenceforth to study, publishing longer articles in the European journals and short reviews and notices in Deutsche Wacht, a magazine edited for the local German community in the Netherlands East Indies…

...He continued to find an outlet for his publications in the pages of Deutsche Wacht, and in Sinologische Beiträge published by himself in 1930.

In May 1940 he is interned as dangerous alien and deported in January 1942 with the Van Imhoff. He is last seen by survivor Fischer, near the sinking Van Imhoff, sitting in a floating chair, looking around with dignity with his impressive white beard. Erwin van Zach is 68 when he drowns at sea.

More biography:
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