Heinz Kohnen – Founder of AWI-Logistics
born: 05.02.1938 in Oberhausen, Germany
died: 25.07.1997 in Nienberge, close to Munster, Germany
Heinz Kohnen, a geophysicist from Munster University, was active in the field of polar research from the 1960s, taking part in various expeditions to the Antarctic, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. He prepared the path for AWI logistics even before the institute was founded in 1980: in 1979/80 he lead the "Polar Circle" expedition to the location chosen for the first (west) German Antarctic station. The establishment of a station was one of the conditions under which Germany agreed to sign the Antarctic Treaty. It was initially decided to build the research station on the Filchner/Ronne ice shelf. When the construction team of the "Ice Look-out" expedition, also lead by Heinz Kohnen, were unable to build at the designated site owing to unsuitable ice conditions, an alternative location on the Ekstrom ice shelf was found. On March 3rd 1981 the German 'Georg von Neumayer' station was inaugurated, and Germany was accepted as an Antarctic Treaty Member State.
Heinz Kohnen began his official service at the Alfred Wegener Institute as leader of AWI Logistics on September 1st, 1982. During his years in this position, the R.V. Polarstern (1982) and the first polar research aircraft (1983) were brought into service, and the Koldeway research station at Spitzbergen (1991), the second German Antarctic station 'Neumayer' (1992) and the Dallmann Laboratory at the Argentinian station 'Jubany' (1994) constructed. The clean-up campain in the Schirmacher Oasis (1993-96), also under Heinz Kohnen's responsibility and during which, amongst other relics, the East German 'Georg Forster' station was dismantled, won worldwide recognition.
Heinz Kohnen made a decisive contribution to AWI Logistics and helped it attain international esteem. He died quite unexpectedly in the summer of 1997, at the age of 59. The field station, Kohnen-Station, of the European drilling project, EPICA, on Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, was named after him. The station was officially opened on January 11th, 2001.