MERZBACHER, GOTTFRIED (1843–1926), German explorer. Born in Baiersdorf, Bavaria, Merzbacher grew up in a family of highly respected businessmen and bankers. He founded a successful fur business in Munich in 1868. He retired and sold his business in 1888 at the age of 45 which allowed him to concentrate on his true passion: the scientific research of mountain areas. Merzbacher, an accomplished mountaineer explored in Africa, North America, the Caucasus, and from 1892 climbed mountains in Arabia, Persia, and India. He published the reports of these expeditions in scientific journals. From 1902 to 1908 he climbed the Central Tien Shan range of Asia and his findings were published by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. His book Aus den Hochregionen des Kaukasus (1901) became a classic. One of his last trips led him to the Bogdo-Ola mountain range. There a ridge was named after him in 1927. In 1901 Merzbacher received an honorary doctorate from the University of Munich. In 1907 he was appointed Royal Professor.
Y. Gleibs, Juden im kulturellen und wissenschaftlichen Leben Münchens in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (1981), 196–200).
[Andreas Heusler (2nd ed.)]