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The rediscovery of Ludwig von Bertalanffy's personal library was one of the most remarkable events for the systems community during 2004/ 2005.
Ludwig von Bertalanffy was born on 19 September 1901 in Atzgersdorf, then a suburb of Vienna. He graduated in Theoretical Biology, in 1932 he became Associate Professor, and from 1946 to 1949 he was the Head of the Zoological Institute at the University of Vienna. In 1949, he emigrated to Great Britain and then to Canada. In 1969, he moved to the Centre for Theoretical Biology of the State University of New York in Buffalo where he held lectures until his death in 1972.
He founded, advocated, and taught the General Systems Theory (Bertalanffy, 1972; Gray, 1973; Bertalanffy and Taschdjian, 1975; Bertalanffy and LaViolette, 1981) as a holistic, interdisciplinary view of systems, applicable to all disciplines.
An excellent account of both his work and life can be found in Davidson (1983) and in its German translation, (see Davidson and Hofkirchner (2005)).
Bertalanffy died in 1972 without seemingly leaving any scientific legacy to the systems community, the more so as it was known that his Viennese 15000 volumes library was completely destroyed in the last days of World War II.
Suddenly in March 2004, several systems people were approached by an offer to sell a collection of published and unpublished writings of Bertalanffy. On 2 April 2004 Tom Mandel from the ISSS community announced via e-mail: 'Lost Letters of Bertalanffy found!' He forwarded a message he had received …