As highest German certification of excellence for achievements by individuals in the fields of research, development, application, or propagation of tribological information and results, the Society of Tribology confers the Georg Vogelpohl award.

In 1975, the executive committee of the Society of Tribology (Gesellschaft für Tribologie e. V., GfT), under the chairmanship of Prof. Peeken and the executive secretary, Dr. Graue, passed a resolution to confer a special award to highly deserving persons, “for exceptional performance in the development, application, or propagation of tribological information and results” – as stated in the certificate of merit. The award was named after a scientist who excelled in this field, Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Georg Vogelpohl. He was a member of the founding committee for the Society of Tribology and served as honorary president for many years. Shortly before his death, he declared his consent to this plan.

As early as 1977, the golden Georg Vogelpohl award was conferred as the highest German recognition of excellence for a tribologist at the annual symposium organised by the Society of Tribology, as proposed by a selection committee. In 2001, the award was conferred to two scientists at the Tribological World Congress in Vienna.

Thus, an honourable distinction similar to the international Tribology-Gold-and-Silver-Medal, which has been conferred on a world-wide basis since 1972, has also been created in Germany. This award was initiated by the meritorious president of the International Tribology Council (ITC), Prof. Dr. H. Peter Jost, who also coined the term ‘tribology’. His decisive accomplishments in promoting the world-wide recognition of tribology were honoured in Germany with an honorary membership in the Society of Tribology in 1972 and with the Georg Vogelpohl award in 1979.

The Tribology gold medal, the world’s greatest honour in the field of tribology, has hitherto been conferred to three further German scientists: Prof. Peeken (1984), Prof. Fleischer (1989) and Prof. Bartz (2001).

The recipients of the Georg Vogelpohl award have established a “Göttinger Kreis”, in correspondence with the symposia which have been held annually in Göttingen by the Society of Tribology since 1994. The idea of publishing a biographical lexicon for the field of tribology, “Kleines biografisches Lexikon der Tribologie”, originated in this “Göttinger Kreis”. The purpose of this endeavour is to present the curriculum vitae of successful tribologists and to describe their accomplishments for colleagues in the field as well as for other interested persons. The members of the “Göttinger Kreis” have actively participated in the preparation of the material. For obtaining the required information on deceased recipients of the Georg Vogelpohl award, thorough research in public and private archives was necessary.

In an initial step, the biographies of the award recipients have been summarised on the homepage maintained by the Society of Tribology. The material will be published in pamphlet form and will also be supplemented and up-dated in the future.