Wilhelm Filchner was born in Germany in 1877. He trained in a military academy and was commissioned in the German army. Interested in survey and geophysics, he led two expeditions to the Polar Regions. His first expedition to Spitsbergen in 1910 was undertaken to provide polar experience and to test equipment for his forthcoming Antarctic expedition. Filchner then planned and led the German South Polar Expedition, 1911-1912, intending to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. He was the first to reach the head of the Weddell Sea, discovering Vahsel Bay, but the tabular iceberg on which he established his base camp broke free in a storm and drifted out to sea. Everyone was rescued but his ship Deutschland was then beset and drifted for nine months in the Weddell Sea before reaching open water. The observations made during this period were valuable since the area was completely unknown. His further Antarctic plans were abandoned because of the First World War. In later life Filchner continued to explore, travelling in central Asia and Tibet. He died on 7 May 1957 in Switzerland.
Published work, Ein Forscherleben Eberhard Brockhaus Wiesbaden (1951) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Filchner]
From the guide to the Wilhelm Filchner collection, 1910-1911, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)