Quand je suis arrivée à l'Institut de Géographie de l'Université de Strasbourg, qui voisinait alors avec la Théologie Protestante, dans le Palais Universitaire au style néo-florentin que j'affectionne toujours, je me suis cognée, en ouvrant la porte, contre un jeune homme énergique qui m'assura que:"c'est bien ici que se fait la bonne géomorphologie". Même si nos voies devaient diverger, Jean Vogt reste le collègue qui m'ouvrit la porte sur mes débuts de carrière carto-géographique. C'est pourquoi j'aime à joindre ici ce souvenir attristé d'une jeunesse lointaine.
Sylvie Rimbert, Strasbourg, 11 July 2005
Jean was one of those unique men and scientists who are standing out for their originality and uncompromising mind. He devoted his scientific life to the investigation of the past, well aware that this is the main key to understanding the present. We remember his famous "notes" on historical events in which he sketched his findings and also his conclusions, always filled with critical wisdom and full of useful hints. And when he was on one of his frequent crawls through the archives, he always brought back an amazing wealth of such notes in his unique handwriting, which he then generously shared with us. Not everybody understood his sometimes ironic - but never insulting - comments on previous studies and misinterpretations. But everybody finally had to appreciate the fundamental quality of his work. Personally I have learned a lot from him.
As former general secretary of ESC I often had the pleasure to watch his personal impacts in the seismological community, especially with respect to historical earthquake investigations. In diffusing discussions I often found him advocating for the basic facts and truth hidden in historical archives. And for sure he excavated a lot! This experience and my personal contacts with him consolidated my deep respect for this outstanding scientist and person.
Jean's ideas will sustain but his kind personality is irreplaceable.
We dearly miss him.
Dieter Mayer-Rosa, Zürich, 4 July 2005
I am saddened to hear of the sudden demise of Jean Vogt. This is indeed a great loss to all Seismologists. His charisma, skills,vision were truly outstanding and will be greatly missed by all. Such a loss is beyond our comprehension.The good Lord knows the best.
Paulina Amponsah, Ghana, 30 June 2005
Deeply shocked I experience that Jean Vogt has left us. From his last letters from April and May this year and the regular telephone calls I knew from his health problems and his stays in the hospital which have interrupted his work. Almost up to the end he was busy with enjoyment and enthusiasm, like in his last studies on the Antilles and Trinidad. Only in his very last letter he mentioned that he was not longer able to continue them and that many other subjects will remain unfinished.
Since we first met in 1988, we have stayed in close contact. I owe much of my knowledge on historical seismology to Jean Vogt. I am indebted to him for many clues, tips and details with respect to the reinterpretation of historical earthquakes in Germany. He had really the sixth sense to efficiently retrieve the right treasures and made no secret of his joy about this rare gift. Jean Vogt was a brilliant connoisseur not only of French earthquakes but, thanks also to his bilingualism, of the historical quakes in Germany as well. A set of joint papers followed from our cooperation.
However, he was engaged not only in historical earthquakes. His interests were broadly diversified, documented in several papers in fields far away from historical seismology. Excellently he could dispute societal problems – lastly on the impacts of the looming result of the referendum about the EU constitution.
Indeed, we have lost a highly appreciated, keen-witted and charming colleague and friend.
Gottfried Grünthal 22 June 2005
En souvenir de Jean Vogt
Nous avons fait la connaissance de Jean Vogt voici près de trente ans. Il cherchait un médiéviste pour l'aider à résoudre des problèmes de critique des sources du Moyen Age. Il est passé par Liège en 1976, en provenance de Cayenne et en direction d'Amsterdam ! Cet infatigable voyageur avait une connaissance encyclopédique des dépôts d'archives du monde entier: "je vous recommande les archives de Singapour", nous dit-il alors, "elles sont remarquablement bien classées". C'est avec une gentillesse admirable qu'il faisait profiter ses collègues et amis de ses découvertes, par le biais de ces centaines de petits bouts de papier ou de photocopies que Massimiliano Stucchi évoque dans son message. Il nous a aidés sans compter en nous donnant tous les documents qu'il avait recueillis sur les séismes survenus en Belgique entre 1350 et 1800.
Jean Vogt avait deux passions: l'histoire des tremblements de terre et l'histoire de l'Alsace. Une des dernières fois que nous l'avons rencontré, c'est chez lui à Strasbourg, dans son salon où nous étions assis entre une pile de documents sur le séisme poitevin de 1711 et une autre sur la culture du millet en Alsace au 17 e siècle ! Il est l'auteur d'innombrables articles dispersés dans des dizaines de revues, et qu'il serait bien utile de rassembler en un seul recueil.
Son énergie, sa curiosité et son exceptionnelle simplicité faisaient de lui un ami vraiment cher. Nous lui avions suggéré d'écrire ses mémoires, mais sa modestie ne l'a pas permis; il nous a cependant envoyé des notes de voyage où il raconte les impressions que lui ont laissées la nature et la faune tropicales.
La photo de lui que nous vous envoyons a été prise en 1994 au cap Sounion.
Notre ami Jean Vogt vivra toujours dans notre souvenir.
Dominique et Pierre Alexandre
Liège, le 21 juin 2005
For each of us that had the privilege of knowing Jean Vogt, the memory of him as a person and a friend will always live on in our hearts. But for generations of seismologists to come who never had that privilege, and privilege it was, the name of Jean Vogt will live on for the great contribution he made to historical seismology.
I would like to recall in particular his rare gift of serendipity, of which he was justly proud. Anyone with experience of historical earthquake research will know just how difficult it is to find valuable material in collections and archives that are often poorly sorted and worse catalogued. Vogt had almost a sixth sense for entering an archive and quickly finding all manner of hidden treasures. His work has increased our knowledge of the earthquakes of the past immensely, and this will be his enduring legacy.
Roger M.W. Musson, 20 June 2005
When I initially started in historical seismology, Jean Vogt was among the first to introduce me to and discuss with me problems of research and methodology from scratch. He invited me to use his private archive, so that I spent several days at his home in Strasbourg, searching for historical documentation. He was always ready to discuss genuine problems, always eager to learn more from a historical perspective. I was deeply impressed by his scientific curiosity and his enthusiasm to improve his own knowledge, and to share it with anyone who was ready to think about it. I am very thankful for having met Jean Vogt and for having had the opportunity to talk to him.
Monika Gisler, Zürich, 20 June 2005
A la mémoire de Jean Vogt
Jean Vogt nous a quitté le 5 juin 2005 et avec lui disparaît celui qui est à l'origine du renouveau en France de la recherche en sismicité historique, en quelque sorte le père de la sismicité historique moderne. Il a initié la démarche du retour aux sources originales contemporaines de l'événement, et situé le tremblement de terre dans son contexte historique, économique et social pour mieux comprendre et évaluer les faits et approcher le plus près possible de la réalité. Il a débusqué les erreurs de date, de lieux, les faux séismes, les déformations et confusions nombreuses dans les catalogues usuels. Des séismes ont disparus, d'autres nouveaux sont apparus.
Dans les années 80 il participa à l'élaboration de la carte sismotectonique de la France, en charge du volet sismicité historique. Puis il établit les fondements de la banque de données de sismicité historique de la France connue sous le nom de Sisfrance.
Avec lui nous perdons un homme d'une grande curiosité, un esprit toujours en éveil, arpentant infatigablement les bibliothèques du monde entier à la recherche du document d'archive rare qui apportera un éclairage nouveau à l'impact d'un séisme ancien mal connu.
Qu'il reçoive ici l'hommage des membres du Groupe APS que sa disparition plongent dans la tristesse et qui n'oublieront jamais ce qu'ils lui doivent.
Présidente 15 June 2005
Jean Vogt has left us on 5 June 2005. With him disappears the person who initiated the updating of the historical earthquake investigation in France; in some way, the father of modern historical seismology. He started the way back to the investigation of original sources, coeval to the event; moreover, he put this investigation in the historical, economical and social context of the event, for a better understanding of what happened and getting close, as far as possible, to the reality. He found out date and place mistakes, fake quakes and the very many confusions in the current catalogues. Some earthquakes disappeared, some new ones appeared.
In the 80’s he took part in the elaboration of the seismotectonic map of France, as the responsible person of the historical earthquake investigation. Later, he established the basis for the French databank of historical earthquake data, today known as Sisfrance.
With him we lose a man rich of curiosity, an ever active spirit who went tirelessly rummaging in the world’s libraries searching for that rare archive document by means of which he was able to cast new light on the impact of an old, badly known earthquake.
Might he receive the homage of all the members of the "Association for the Study of the Pathologies of Seismic Origin in the Ancient Buildings (Groupe APS)", who are sad for his departure and will never forget what they owe to him.
President 15 June 2005
Like the stars in heavens, Jean Vogt, the giant of historical earthquakes research, the lovely man, is among us for ever ...
(historical seismology of Bulgaria) 15 June 2005
We, as a community of seismologists, lost a large leader and scientist for historical seismicity of Europe and Mediterranean. We will remember him with deep respect and honest feelings.
Ryad Darawcheh Damascus, June 15, 2005
Dear colleagues, I’d like to share with you my deep respect toward Jean Vogt. He was man of integrity: scientific research was not just a work, an occupation; it was a way to look at World, to satisfy his own natural curiosity. He was a very modest person, but attracted people radiating a sense of internal freedom, which is impossible to simulate. I believe, scientific community will miss a lot of his sober scepticism, a true background for Science.
Ruben Tatevossian 15 June 2005
Jean Vogt left us recently and this is a great loss for the seismology in France and worlwide. I have had the pleasure and honour to meet him at several occasions in Algeria, Syria, Italy and in Strasbourg. In particular I remember a field trip to Basel with him and Tony Crone (USGS Denver) where he had lively discussions and where he showed us several copies of historical documents in gothic German on the 1356 earthquake. He was and will remain a great man in science. I will deeply regret his kindness, hospitality and enthusiasm.
Mustapha Meghraoui 15 june 2005
I am deeply sorrowed by the loss of Jean Vogt. Not only was he a world specialist of historical seismicity, but also his human qualities were captivating, a mixture of extreme kindness, helpfulness, discretion, and of rigour and uncompromisingness. Jean Vogt seemingly knew every paper, every event, every country related to seismology or geology. His infallible memory on even the smallest and insignificant French earthquake kept being a surprise to me. Coming shortly after the recent decease of Keiti Aki, Jean Vogt's loss orphans seismology.
Julien Fréchet 15 June 2005
Jean Vogt had been a driving force behind many research works in historical seismicity. We have learned many things from him from analysis to collection and treatment of original documents. He taught us patience in research particularly in historical seismicity. For sure, the world historical seismicity will feel seriously the loss of this great man. He left a considerable historical seismicity background for Algeria which has constituted the basis of all the studies of the seismic catalogue. His preface to my book on "The seismicity of Algeria during the 20th century" has had a significant meaning for the whole seismological community in Algeria and abroad. His advices during my research work for my Ph.D. thesis on the seismicity of the Maghreb were more than advice.
Prof. Djillali Benouar 14 June 2005
Jean Vogt probably never sat in front of a computer watching internet in his life.
He did not like computers; he always reported parametric catalogues as those "computer files" which spoiled most of the historical information. He did not like modern tools; once our lab offered to him a pocket photocopier, which he might have used in the libraries to gather the precious information he was able to find: probably he never used it. His information always came in handwritten small pieces of paper, sometimes on the back of printed forms, where he retrieved title of the work, where it was located and found, and a summary of the information, introduced by the year and the region of the earthquake. We have hundreds of them, and many of them still wait for being exploited. Once in 1992 my bag was stolen in Barcelona; it only contained some of these sheets and a letter from him, I intended to comment with him that night. I laughed together with Toni Roca and colleagues imaging the reaction of the thief when he opened the bag…
Jean Vogt showed the way to many of us. His criticism, sometimes very harsh, captured the reader inviting him to follow the thread of his arguments. He did not like compromises; reading his papers or listening to him was like watching a football match, when after a few minutes you feel that you stand for a team and you do not support the other one. A famous French seismologist was one of his preferred target, but I remember him once, at a ESC Assembly, becoming very angry and interrupting a speaker (it happened very seldom) saying loud "it was an explosion!", while the poor speaker tried to account for damage due to a never happened Crimean earthquake…
The small pieces of paper were not the only messages from him. I received, on a regular basis, post cards from all the corners of the world, with small phrases which gave a perfect view of the scene. From Shalalah he wrote that he was there on the beach at night contemplating the dark sky full of stars, commenting "c’est vital !".
He kept on sending small pieces of paper with increasingly hard-to-be-read notes until a few weeks ago. Some of his supporters and friens had the intention of organising a small, friendly workshop to acknowledge his work; as it often happens, this was delayed until when it is too late.
I simply intended to tell him "Grand merci, Jean, for all you did and gave to us". And to give him a few notes I wrote years ago as "acknowledgements" for a paper to be published on "Annali di Geofisica". The notes were obviously refused, but I kept them for another occasion, which I was not able to create. I will post them below.
Massimiliano Stucchi Milano, 13 June 2005
A common journey, during which historians and seismologists learn methods and procedures from one another and develop common procedures is possible: but the way is still long and it requires flexibility from both parts. Historians must get aware that, surprisingly or not, seismologists often and easily forget their scientific rigour when dealing with historical records, throwing the blame on the nature of the data. For seismologists the way is even longer; it passes through the users' capacity of adapting models and computer routines to the nature of historical records.
A few travellers who are intrigued by this kind of journey start exploring the border area between the two disciplines: representatives of both sides eventually meet, exchange presents and know-how; a few fall in love, a few fight; then, usually, most start travelling further.
Later, they might feel tired or just willing to rest for a while; sometimes they try back to their starting points and find out that strongholds have been dismantled, old chiefs have retired, new chiefs consider them as smugglers or accuse them of parents betrayal. Some of them give up such kind of journey; others are given a small piece of land to set down and are allowed to keep on travelling, if really necessary, without disturbing around.
A few go back to the bush, decide that life there is not that bad and become experts of no-man land. Then rumours spread out and new travellers start paying visits to them.
Historical seismology owes today so much to a few of these travellers: here I like to acknowledge the teaching of Jean Vogt, "chevalier de la brousse".