Cornelius Ubbo Ariens Kappers
- Category : 1877-births
- Type : PE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Small (12,51)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 3
Dutch neurologist, anthropologist and brain researcher.
Ariëns Kappers was the second of the three sons of doctor in philosophy, HBS school teacher and director Johannes Ariens Kappers (28 March 1845, Groningen- 10 December 1922, Amsterdam) and Geertruide Adriane Klaassen (12 August 1873, Groningen - 13 November 1942), a pastors daughter, who married 12 August 1873 at Groningen.
He visited the elementary school Sappemeer, Meppel en Leeuwarden. He visited the HBS school of his father in Leeuwarden, graduated in 1895 and did the state exam Gymnasium a year later on instignation of his father, as Latin was needed for a scientific career till 1917.
Ariëns Kappers studied medicine in Amsterdam (UvA). During his study he worked at the histological laboratory of professor Van Rees. He was also active in student life, enjoyed drama and became chairman of the Disputation 'Newton' with members like L.E.J. Brouwer. He graduated in 1901, microscopically studied tumours with Rotgans, became a physician in 1903, but never practised. Instead he was fascinated by the comparative anatomy of the nervous system. He dissertated on 4 November 1904 cum laude under Van Rees with the thesis: "De banen en centra in de hersenen der Teleostiërs en Selachiërs".
Throughout his life Kappers liked to travel abroad to lay international connections, to teach and or to study . He visited twice the famous Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Napoli. As a student in the winter of 1901/1902 and three months in 1904/1905. From 1906 till 1908 he worked in Frankfurt under professor Ludwig Edinger, the founder of comparative anatomy. From 1923 to 1924, he was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation to be a 'visiting professor' in histology and neurology at the Union Medical College in Beijing, China. Subsequently, he visited medical schools in China, Korea, Japan and the United States. Between 1929 and 1930 he was a professor at the American University at Beirut. He also gave lectures on the European continent, US and Canada.
Kappers postulated the theory of neurobiotaxis, which states that nerve cell bodies or their axons may grow toward the area from which they receive the most stimuli. This wandering of neurons explains the movement of nerve centres in evolution and the phenomenon of neuronal plasticity in general.
He was the first director of the Dutch Central Institute for Brain Research, which contains a a large database of humane and animal brain specimens. One can still donate one's brain to science in this Institute.
He became famous with his series "Die vergleichende Anatomie des Nervensystems der Wirbeltiere und des Menschen" (1921), translated as "The comparative anatomy of the nervous system of vertebrates, including man" (1936)
Anthropology and anti-semitism.
Already in 1934 Ariëns Kappers was a member of the Dutch "Comité tot Verweer tegen het Anti-Semitisme", that took action against the anti-semitism in Nazi Germany. From 1943 till his death Ariëns Kappers was the chairman of the Nederlandsch Nationaal Bureau voor Anthropologie (Dutch National Agency of Anthropology, 1922-1949). Without the Germans knowing, several Jews were working here despite the Berufsverbote. During WW2 Ariëns Kappers used his international reputation as a leading brain researcher to sign documents which stated that people that were Jews according the Municipal Archive, could not be "scientifically" seen Jews. They must have been illegal bastards, that had a many not Jewish parents in their progeny. The Nazi's accepted Ariëns Kappers "Ariërverklaring" because of his famous scientific reputation and by this trick of the physician and anthropologist Arie de Froe about 200 Jews were saved from deportation.
Historical note: At that time the Dutch the Municipal Archives mentioned the religion of the parents. This made the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands a relatively simple administrative job for the Nazi Germany occupants. Resistance groups tried to blow up or set on fire Municipal Archives, but they were tiny or to late. So finding a medical way out was worthwhile.
Ariëns Kappers died at age 68 at his brain institute in Amsterdam on 28 July 1946.
Since 1916 he joined the "Woodbrookers in Holland" festivals in Barchem, that were inspired by the Quackers in England. His Lutherian mother was also inspired by them. The noble dame Justine Van Heeckeren van Kell, owner of House Ruurlo, granted them a Lecture Hall like that of Woodbrook. The liberal ("vrijzinnig") Protestant community searched for a dialogue with Catholics, Jews and Humanists. After WW2 the movement under the leadership of Willem Bannink played a major role in establishing the Breakthrough, an atttempt to renew the politics of the Netherlands after the Second World War.
On 21 Sept 1937, he married the filthy rich widow Clara Betty von Hunteln (1880-1980). They got no children. He knew her since his student years. Since then he lived in the prosperous Jugendstil Villa Betty (1900) and was driven to his brain laboratory in her glamorous Rolls Royce instead of what he was used to do on his bike. But he had an extreme stoic mind, and was not impressed by poverty nor richness. He just accepted it.
Kappers was an admirer of Jules Verne, enjoyed swimming and biking. But behind his stoic façade, he liked to test the limits. When on vacatoin in Napels, he nearly drowned when swimming during a storm (the date needs some more research).