I just received the following email, from the Evoldir list, and I’m wondering if it is legit:
Mendels’s [sic] original manuscript “Versuche uber Planzen-Hybride” has been found!
The original handwritten document has been found and is in excellent condition. There is a chance that the document will again be lost to the scientific community.
The document is being held by the law firm: Wahlert in Stuttgart, Germany. Please contact them and let them know that this document must be preserved. The German government is trying to determine if it should be listed as a German cultural treasure, but the law firm may be not cooperating. Thanks for your help!
Tel. +49 711 1876-277
Fax. +49 711 1876-103
This would be great news if it was true, but I haven’t seen anything else about it on the web or anywhere. The law firm exists, at least, but I’m not sure whether it passes the smell test. According to this exhinition review (subscription required, booo!), it should be the property of the Brno monastery:
There is, however, a ghost at this feast of science, history and art, an item that is conspicuous by its absence: Mendel’s famous 1865 paper that started it all, ‘Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden’. The exhibition has an original print version on display, but what about the manuscript copy in Mendel’s own immaculate copperplate? There is a facsimile of a single sheet, but where is the real thing? The answer is, I’m afraid, we don’t really know. This seminal paper, the legal property of the Abbey of St Thomas in Brno, is not in the abbey’s possession. Neither is it accessible to the public. Following its disappearance from a Moravian bank vault during the Second World War (when it was photographed), the manuscript resurfaced in the 1990s in the possession of a member of the Mendel family in Germany. So the story goes. Quite why there should be such secrecy over this valuable artefact I do not know. I suspect it is something to do with politics.
Which doesn’t quite align with the email: why wouldn’t the German government repatriate it to Brno? The national politics gets murky for me: Brno is in the Czech Republic, but Mendel wrote in German, and there were many German speakers in that area before WWII (including Kafka, of course, and several philosophers).
Does anyone know anything more about this? I’m in Helsinki now (of which more anon), so I don’t have time to chase it up: I’m about to be dragged off to a sea fortress to watch Grrlscientist take photographs (of which more anon, on her blog).