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ISCApad Archive  »  2022  »  ISCApad #295  »  ISCA News  »  Professor Dr Hermann Künzel obituary

ISCApad #295

Monday, January 09, 2023 by Chris Wellekens

2-5 Professor Dr Hermann Künzel obituary

                                            Prof. Dr. Hermann Jozef Künzel

                                                       10 April 1950 – 18 October 2022

Dear members of IAFPA, dear phoneticians, dear colleagues,

It is with great sadness, that we have to inform you that Professor Hermann Künzel passed away last week on the 18th of October 2022. He was one of IAFPA`s founding members and the association‘s second President. Many of us in IAFPA remember him as a forensic colleague at the BKA, an academic colleague at the University, as a participant at IAFPA conferences, as a mentor, a lecturer or as a good friend. His enthusiasm for the field has inspired many of us. His time and energy contributed to forensic analysis seemed endless. Künzel`s many research projects played a key role in the improvement of analysis methods and a deeper understanding of the complexity of forensic investigations, and his work was essential in the development of the acoustic-phonetic method of forensic speaker recognition. His book called “Sprechererkennung”, published in 1987, offered the first detailed description of this method; it was used as a reference work in many developing forensic laboratories at the time and its content was studied and cited by academics and students worldwide.

In 1977 he obtained his PhD from the University of Kiel. In May of 1980 Hermann Künzel became the very first linguist appointed by the Bundeskriminalamt in Wiesbaden. Under his guidance and over a period of 10 years the “Fachbereich Sprecher-Identifizierung; Tonbandauswertung und linguistische Textanalyse” was established with several linguists and phoneticians carrying out between 200-350 cases per year. In addition, research projects were conducted in order to provide the theoretical background data necessary for the improvement of identification methods and for the interpretation of case findings. Few forensic laboratories at the time were able to conduct research; the international community profited greatly from the efforts of the Wiesbadener BKA scientists.

Between 1994 and 1999 he was an Honorary Professor of Phonetics at University of Trier. Between 2000 and 2015 he was a professor and head of the Institute of Phonetics at the University of Marburg. Many forensic phoneticians who are currently working at the BKA or LKA, or who were employed there, were trained by him and developed their enthusiasm for forensic phonetics at that time. From 2000 onwards he was involved in the further development and testing of the BATVOX ID-system from the Agnitio Voice ID company and his work formed the basis for the integration of automatic speaker recognition into existing auditory-acoustic speaker identification methods.

For many colleagues and students, Hermann Künzel was an inspirational pioneer, valuable advisor and mentor. 

In grateful remembrance, we take leave of our highly esteemed colleague and companion. Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife, Ute, and his family.


Gea de Jong-Lendle on behalf of the IAFPA


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