The Zentralfriedhof, Vienna

By Charles Tanford & Jacqueline Reynolds

Zentralfriedhof in Wien, Austria

The Zentralfriedhof (cemetery) on the edge of the city is a place of pilgrimage for many visitors to Vienna. It has a special section of Ehrengraben (honor graves) where Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Strauss, and many Viennese Burgermeister are buried. There is a scientist among them, however, Ludwig Boltzmann, interred in Section 14C. Being placed in this company is a singular tribute, considering that his peer group in Austria did not seem to like him too much for most of the time when he was alive. The tombstone itself bears the inscription “S = k log W,” Boltzmann’s famous equation linking entropy to the world of atoms and molecules. (How many tombstones in the world carry equations?) Other members of Boltzmann’s family are buried with him, up to his grandson, his last male descendant, who was killed in the war in 1943 in Smolensk.