Бенедикт Дибовський

Benedykt Dybowski (12.V.1833-31.I.1930)


Benedykt Dybowski was born in a village Adamaryni of Novogrudski district (former Minsk district) of the Grodnenska region (former Minsk province) in a family of small squire (as evaluated by other - a middle nobleman). Dybowski's father took part at the rebellions of Poland in 1831 and 1863 against the Russian occupation in Poland.

After graduated from Minsk high school in 1853 Dybowski entered the naturally-medical faculty of Tartuski (earlier Deptski) University (Estonia). From 1857 B. Dybowski continued his studies in Germany in Breslau University (present Wroclaw in Poland). From there he went for expeditions in studying fishes and crustaceas at the Adriatic Sea and reservoirs of Germany. From 1858, after graduation of University B. Dybowski moved to Berdin, where in January 18, 1860 he defended the doctoral dissertation. A year (1860) he became a professor of Zoology of the Warsaw main school that is University about parthenogenesis. In 1861-1862 he studied the carp fishes of Pribaltica. He published a monograph about them. This monograph he defended in 1862 at Tartuski University as the second doctoral dissertation. Krakiw University invited him to the Department of Zoology, but the ministry disagreed on it because of some political reasons. (In 1861 B. Dybowski took part in the political mass demonstration in Vilnius, that's why he was arrested and deported to the far part of Russia. But soon he was released). In the same 1862 year B.Dybowski became the adjunct-professor of Zoology and the comparative anatomy of the Main Warsaw School. In 1863 B. Dybowski was arrested and condemned for deaths through hanging because of his activity in taking part for preparation of the Polish revolt. Only due to efforts of prominent German scientists - professor Rejkhter from Berlin and professor Grube from Wroclaw and by mediation of the prominent politician Bismarck a death punishment was abolished for reference to Siberia on penal servitudes for a term of 12 years. First B. Dybowski was kept the Warsaw prison. On the railway station before his departing to Petersburg relatives and friends passed a microscope, over different necessary things for treatment and scientific work and money for B.Dybowski. On the August 10, 1864 B. Dybowski began his journey to the place hard labour. He came by train from Petersburg through Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod, and further by horses to the East. In December 1864 he arrived to Irkutsk. Hard labourers had a right to choose a place of exile by themselves. B.Dybowski chose the place, where he hoped to get rich scientific materials. At first B. Dybowski was placed in Irkutsk prison, and from the spring of 1865 according to his request he was moved to the village Syvakovo near Chita. The labourers lived in dug-outs by several. B. Dybowski droved a tree and water, gathered wild garlic on the meadows for soup and for patients which were suffering from scurvy. At the same time he collected a scientific material and encouraged other people to this work. And he was helped. B. Dybowski asked for his moving to village Dargoon, where mineral waters were and where a staff for the bathing was to hold. For a long time B. Dybowski as a doctor worked in Chita. He was allowed to visit patients without a convoy. He, together with the comrades of V. Godlewski and Parvex, overcame a bad road in 139 versts long to Darsoon'. They lived during the whole winter in a decent house. They settled in two rooms with furniture. In that house also the commandant of Darsoon' lived. Every free minute of sending Dybowski devoted to the study of Siberia fauna. There were no forced labours in Darsoon'. Being unofficially, but in fact hard labour was over. That time B. Dybowski had a lot of free time for treatment and a scientific work.

With the purpose of studying natural riches of the East Siberia in 1866 a governor Muraviov dismissed B. Dybowski from the hard labour, renewed his civil rights and proposed him to work as a doctor in hospital of Darsoon' mineral waters. During leaving for patients B. Dybowski could research the birds, fishes and mammals. In autumn 1868 Benedykt Dybowski moved to Irkutsk, and later settled in a small village Kultuk and began detailed studying of Baikal Lake with some technical support of Russian Geographical Society. B. Dybowski moved to Kultuk together with W. Godlevski and Ksiezopolski. The research of the Baikal Lake had been continued tree years and a for few months (with some short breaks). In 1869 B. Dybowski together with N.M. Przewal'skyy took part in the work of State Commission at the head with the general Skolkov in the Amur drainage basin, that is the Amur, Usuri rivers and Chanka Lake, where B.Dybowski explored mainly the fish fauna. The commission needed a doctor-naturalist for treating partly amputated Skalkovs hand and gathered the plants for the herbarium of the tsar wife. She was interested in the flora of Usurijskyy Land. B. Dybowski together with V. Godlewski and M. Jankowski observed the souths areas of Usurijskyy Land. Few months later the Commission with Dybowski comes back to Irkutsk, and B. Dybowski comes to Kultuk. By continued researching Baikal 1871 from there B. Dybowski moved to Irkutsk, where he elaborated the collections. Then he began his journey: he moved around Baikal Lake, come to Kultuk, then to Chita, to Kirpichna, where he worked the whole winter, gathering together with V. Godelewski those birds and mammals. Further to Old Tsurukhatum near Argun, where he spent spring and part of the summer. On August 9th he moved to Amur River with a boat built by him, M. Jankovski and V. Godlewski. On September 20th they got Blagoveshchensk, and then by ship "Ingoda" to the beginnning of October they got Khabarovsk. Later B.Dybowski settled in Kozakevychevo village, where he made the basic research of Usurijskyy Land. From there he made excursions. The end of 1873 and a considerable part (by August) of 1874th Dybowski with his comrades spent in the valley of the river Usuri. In August 1874 B. Dybowski drove out to Vladivostok, and from there - to a small Askold's island, where he and his comrades conducted the faunistic collections. The end of September 1874th for the whole winter Dybowski moved to the Peter the Great Bay. Here they stayed by August 1875. In 1876 they received news from Irkutsk that they three - B. Dybowski, V.Godlewski and M. Jankovski - are allowed to return to a motherland. Due to the efforts of the prominent scientists, Tsar's government freed them from the hard labour, renewed their rights and permitted for the free moving across whole Russia. But B. Dybowski was carried away with scientific researches and he didn't hurry to come back. Because he began to organize the expedition to Kamchatka. In order to financial support B. Dybowski first come back to Irkutsk, and later he had to move to Petersburg. At first from Irkutsk B. Dybowski moved to Kultuk, from there he carried out expeditions for research of Baikal. In August 1876 B. Dybowski from Irkutsk drove out to Warsaw. In the part of the expedition to Kamchatka B. Dybowski was to supposed to go as a governmental doctor.

B. Dybowski works were highly estimated and Geographical Society bestowed him on a gold medal. In 1878 he was chosen as an actual member of the Russian Geographical Society. Benedykt Dybowski was given thousand roubles and required equipment for the Kamchatka researches. B. Dybowski left St.-Petersburg for Kamchatka on January 10th, 1878. On his way he stayed in Moscow for two days, later for tree days in Nizhniy Novgorod. On January 16th Benedykt Dybowski drove out from Nizhniy Novgorod to Kazan', then to Tiumen', Omsk, Tomsk, and Irkutsk. To Nizhniy Novgorod he went by train, than by horses. In Irkutsk he stayed from 7th February till 27th March 1879 and explored the Baikal fauna. He sent his scientific collections to Warsaw and continues his way. From 6th till 8th April 1879 he stopped at Nerchynsk, than he stayed for a month in Sretenchak. Again he sent a parcel to Warsaw from there. On 20-22th May he stayed at Blagoveshchensk, 25-26th - at Khabarovsk, at Khanka Lake, further for two weeks - to Vladivostok. After sending the collections to Warsaw on 24th June he left for Petropavlovsk-on-Kamchatka by ship. To Petropavlovsk he arrived 5th July 1879. In Kamchatka B. Dybowski stayed about four years (till 1883). Benedykt Dybowski connected his medical labour with his scientific researches. Here B. Dybowski established a hospital for treating of lepers and syphilis ills in the difficult climatic condition - hard roads and different dangers. B. Dybowski helped the aborigine population, fought against the epidemics. For five times the scientist traveled around a peninsula and visited Comandor's Islands. At Kamchatka B. Dybowski conducted ethnographic works, made a description of the climatic conditions, described the rivers, lakes, plant and the animal world, and gave the recommendations for the development of the agriculture there. He gave the detailed description of Comandor's Islands, pointed on the necessity of managing in order to get peat and brown coal, he paid attention for acclimatization here of valuable trees, reindeer, horses, dogs. It was done. The reindeer gave the posterity and a great benefit to the population. People were so grateful to him.

He took care of Kamchatka population not only with the medicinal and the sanitary guardianship. He did it as well for welfare of Kamchatka and Comandor's islands habitants, developed the material and the spiritual culture of natives, fought against alcoholism, drove to Kamchatka goats and rabbits, and on the Bering's Island - reindeers and horses.

From 8th July1881 till 13th October 1881 (more than three months) B. Dybowski traveled about Kamchatka. He overcame a road by the length of 2000 layers. On 2nd February 1882 he started his winter journey. The reindeers, driven by B. Dybowski to Bering Island, acclimatized very well and became a basin of life and welfare of aleutians - the habitants of this island. They were so grateful to him. Benedykt Dybowski was looking for the remains of the Stellers sea cow but he didn't do it.

Lviv University invited B. Dybowski to hold a vacant office of chief of the Department of Zoology (that time - Zoology institute) on the philosophical faculty (nowadays - the Biological Faculty). B. Dybowski agreed on it and in 1883 moved from Kamchatka. He arrived to Lviv at the beginning of January, 1884 with his luggage containing 60 boxes of exhibits. Apart from very interesting lessons, B. Dybowski carried out a rich public and scientific-research activity. He organized a zoological laboratory, founded the Zoological museum, where he placed a lot of exhibits from Siberia. In December, 1903 from Kamchatka to Lviv an archeological expedition arrived. Being thankful one of the aleutians - Sinitsin (Russians gave them the Russian family names) found a skeleton of the Stellers sea cow. He packed it in suitcase and passed it over to the participants of this expedition held by a professor Marozevich as a gift for B. Dybowski. That skeleton was sent to Lviv, where B. Dybowski was a chief of Department of Zoology it that time. Dybowski passed it over for the Zoological Museum of Lviv University. Apart from that, B. Dybowski got two more skeletons of Stellers sea cows: the first was given for comparative Anatomy Institute of University in Warsaw, and the second to the museum in Vienna. The human skulls of camchadols and aina collection B. Dybowski gave as a present for the anthropological museum of the Jagellonian University in Krakow. B. Dybowski read the course of anthropology and tried to establish here the Department of anthropology. In 1908 Ciszowski was the chief of it, and since 1913 - Jan Czekanowski. In his own work and lessons B. Dybowski urgently defended the Darwin's theory. So, in September, 1906 he was dismissed by the rector of University (at the age of 73 years).

Being retired Benedykt Dybowski continued his scientific-research work. He explored comprehensively the lakes in Poland and Polissya lakes of Western Ukraine and Byelorussia.

During the war in 1914 years B. Dybowski was in his sister's estate in Nyan'ka in Byelorussia near Novogrudka. He was sent to Siberia, moved to Irkutsk by Tsar's government as an Austrian citizen. The Irkutsk's administration did not permit his settlement and sent him to other living place to Yakut region. Dybowski was rescued from the second exile only by the protection of Academy of Sciences, Geographical Society and prominent scientists. B. Dybowski was actually thrown to the streets when Germans came instead of Russians. B. Dybowski got a permission to come back to Lviv only due to the efforts of an officer of the German army grandson of a well-known German naturalist, a geographer and a traveler Humboldt. But the house in Lviv, where he lived, was tumbledown and robbed. Here in Lviv Dybowski gradually made and renewed connections with the scientists of Siberia. They sent him materials elaborating. Dybowski continued to take an interest in Kamchatka and especially in Baikal Lake. He gave a lot of considerable advice for different scientists.

In 1927 the Academy of Sciences in the USSR elected B. Dybowski as a member-correspondent. Apart from that in 1921 B. Dybowski was elected as an honored doctor of Warsaw's University, in 1923 as an honored professor of Vilnius' University.

On 95th Benedykt Dybowski's birthday he was congratulated by Shevchenko Scientific Society government. It wished him a long life and creative work for the welfare of science. This document is saved near the entrance of our Zoological Museum next to his portrait and his biography.

On 1st January, 1930 B. Dybowski died at the age 97 years. He is buried in Lviv on the Lychakivs cemetery among the participants of the Polish rebellion in1863 years. B. Dybowski was engaged with scientifically-research work to the end of his life. Some of his scientific works have come out to the world after his death only.