Prof. Dr. Erich Karl Helmut Friedland
(4 May 1933 – 29 December 2020)
A man who viewed his profession and his engagement with the community as a calling.
Erich Karl Helmut Friedland was born on the 4th of May 1933 in Thuringia. The family fled the GDR to the West in 1950. He completed his Abitur in Duisburg at the Max Planck Gymnasium in 1952. Erich Friedland was appointed assistant at the National Physics Laboratory of the CSIR in 1952. In his evening studies, Erich Friedland studied at the University of Pretoria and received a bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry with distinction in 1956. During his master studies in physics, he received a post as a technical assistant at the University of Pretoria. He earned his master’s degree in 1958 with distinction and was promoted to lecturer in 1959. He received his doctorate in 1965 and the following year worked as a visiting scientist at the Nuclear Research Centre in Karlsruhe. After his return to South Africa in 1967, he was promoted to senior lecturer and in 1972 appointed as professor at the University of Pretoria.
Professor Erich Friedland was an internationally renowned scientist who worked in scientific institutes in Germany, the USA, England, Holland and Denmark. After his retirement, he continued to lead research and supervise doctoral students for many years at the university, as well as on the international stage.
Professor Doctor Erich Friedland was co-opted as 2nd Secretary on the Governing Body of the Deutscher Schulverein Pretoria on the 13th of October 1975. During this time he was also very active in the “School Action 75” and the “Action Self-Help”, which were partly responsible for the construction and completion of the “new” school in Die Wilgers. In the “School Action 75” he led the initiative to collect donations from companies.
From the Annual General Meeting in 1978 onwards, Professor Friedland was the chairman of the Governing Body of the Deutscher Schulverein Pretoria. He fulfilled this office with a great deal of idealism and joy, with some work-related interruptions, until the Annual General Meeting in 1995. Under his leadership the construction of the school was completed. This also included the construction of the auditorium, the sports hall, the swimming pool and the school dormitory. He successfully planned the extension for the new secondary school up to its implementation.
Professor Friedland took over the chairmanship at a time when the first opening efforts for non-German-speaking children were discussed in the school community. What has become a matter of course today was an almost insurmountable hurdle at that time – not only on the part of state politics, but also from the understanding of the German community in Pretoria. Thanks to the far-sightedness of Professor Friedland, we now have a school which is an example for many other schools.
This required a vision, and it required a man who had both an eye on the present realities as well as future possibilities. A person like Professor Friedland, who also presented his views in the face of opposition, and was able to convince opponents.
After leaving the board, Erich Friedland was elected an honorary member of the school association at the 1996 Annual General Meeting. In 1997, Professor Friedland was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit by the Federal President of Germany. This honour shows the respect given to Professor Friedland in Germany.
After 1995, Professor Friedland was chairman of trustees of the Neitz Foundation for 20 years and later also of the Snyckers Foundation. He was always very interested in the school and always sought conversation with the respective chairs of the Governing Body of the Deutscher Schulverein Pretoria. He always had an open ear and was willing to discuss the situation and contribute his experience.
As a school, we have always enjoyed seeing him and his wife as guests at the school. He was not afraid to participate with the children in the large school orchestra.
This school community is greatly indebted to Professor Friedland and we want to honor his memory. His voluntary commitment, his loyalty to the school and to the cause is an example to us all. A school needs idealists such as Professor Erich Friedland to ensure the continuity of the school.
We would like to express our sincere condolences to his family at this time of mourning.
The Deutscher Schulverein Pretoria, the school management, the teaching staff, the students and the employees of the Deutsche Internationale Schule Pretoria.
(A Rüsch; W Johannes; W Ehrich)