Preface of Bescheiden Maar Onverzettelijk: Een Biografie Van Professor Hilmar Johannes Backer
Prof. Dr. Hilmar Johannes Backer (1882-1959) is a scientist and teacher of national and international allure. Backer’s name and work is not only captured in the memory of his many students, PhDs and co-workers, but also many who never knew him commemorate him with respect. Backer was not only an inspiring associate scientist, he also put great interest in the laboratory and society as an academic scientist. This biography, written by Drs. Ulco Kooystra, reference librarian to the University Library of Groningen, is not only targeting the work of Backer in all, but it also describes the life and work of people like Backer in all their facets. Backer wanted to do more than just deliver good researchers and teachers to the society. He had great interest in the wellbeing of his students and helped each of his students individually build the future that fits their capacities and contributes to a happy life. The care Backer took of his students is legendary and especially during World War Two he grew out to be a tower of strength.
The biography describes Professor Backer as scientist and teacher over a time period of 1916 till 1952. His great comprehensive scientific work, primarily in the field of synthetic-organic chemistry, is till this day regularly cited. Besides that, great attention is paid to his special personality and to his great achievements at the University of Groningen. The book provides a very interesting contribution to our knowledge of the history of the University of Groningen during the first half of the twentieth century.
Jan B.F.N. Engberts
Chairman Hilmar Johannes Backer Foundation