Gustav Ludwig Hertz (July 22 1887, Hamburg – October 30 1975, Berlin) was a German experimental physicist and Nobel Prize winner, and a nephew of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.
Hertz studied at the Georg-August University of Göttingen
(1906-1907), the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
(1907-1908), and the Humboldt University of Berlin
(1908-1911). He received his doctorate in 1911 under Heinrich Leopold Rubens
From 1911 to 1914, Hertz was an assistant to Rubens at the University of Berlin. It was during this time that Hertz and James Franck
performed experiments on inelastic electron collisions in gases, known as the Franck–Hertz experiments
, and for which they received the Nobel Prize in Physics
During World War I, Hertz served in the military from 1914. He was seriously wounded in 1915. In 1917, he returned to the University of Berlin as a Privatdozent. In 1920, he took a job as a research physicist at the Philips Incandescent Lamp Factory in Eindhoven, which he held until 1925.
In 1925, Hertz became ordinarius professor and director of the Physics Institute of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. In 1928 he became ordinarius professor of experimental physics and director of the Physics Institute of the Berlin Technische Hochschule (BTH) in Berlin-Charlottenburg. While there, he developed an isotope separation technique via gaseous diffusion. Since Hertz was an officer during WW I, he was temporarily protected from National Socialist policies and the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, but eventually the policies and laws became more stringent, and at the end of 1934, he was forced to resign his position at BTH, as he was classified as a “second degree part-Jew”. He then took a position at Siemens, as director of Research Laboratory II. While there, he continued his work on atomic physics and ultrasound, but he eventually discontinued his work on isotope separation. He held this position until he departed for the Soviet Union in 1945.
The Soviet Union
Hertz, Manfred von Ardenne
, director of his private laboratory Forschungslaboratorium für Elektronenphysik
, Peter Adolf Thiessen
, ordinarius professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin
and director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für physikalische Chemi und Elektrochemie (KWIPC) in Berlin-Dahlem
, and Max Volmer
, ordinarius professor and director of the Physical Chemistry Institute at the Berlin Technische Hochschule
, had made a pact. The pact was a pledge that whoever first made contact with the Russians would speak for the rest. The objectives of their pact were threefold: (1) Prevent plunder of their institutes, (2) Continue their work with minimal interruption, and (3) Protect themselves from prosecution for any political acts of the past. Before the end of World War II
, Thiessen, a member of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
, had Communist contacts. On 27 April 1945
, Thiessen arrived at von Ardenne’s institute in an armored vehicle with a major of the Soviet Army, who was also a leading Soviet chemist. All four of the pact members were taken to the Soviet Union. Hertz was made head of Institute G, in Agudseri (Agudzery), about 10 km southeast of Sukhumi
and a suburb of Gul’rips (Gulrip’shi). Topics assigned to Gustav Hertz’s Institute G included: (1) Separation of isotopes by diffusion in a flow of inert gases, for which Gustav Hertz was the leader, (2) Development of a condensation pump, for which Justus Mühlenpfordt
was the leader, (3) Design and build a mass spectrometer for determining the isotopic composition of uranium, for which Werner Schütze was the leader, (4) Development of frameless (ceramic) diffusion partitions for filters, for which Reinhold Reichmann was the leader, and (5) Development of a theory of stability and control of a diffusion cascade, for which Heinz Barwich
was the leader; Barwich had been deputy to Hertz at Siemens. Other members of Institute G were Werner Hartmann
and Karl-Franz Zühlke. Von Ardenne was made head of Institute A, in Sinop, a suburb of Sukhumi
. Volmer went to the Nauchno-Issledovatel’skij Institut-9 (NII-9, Scientific Research Institute No. 9), in Moscow; he was given a design bureau to work on the production of heavy water
. In Institute A, Thiessen became leader for developing techniques for manufacturing porous barriers for isotope separation.
In 1949, six German scientists, including Hertz, Thiessen, and Barwich were called in for consultation at Sverdlovsk-44, which was responsible for uranium enrichment. The plant, smaller than the American Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion plant, was getting only a little over half of the expected 90% or higher enrichment.
After 1950, Hertz moved to Moscow. In 1951, Hertz was awarded a Stalin Prize, second class, with Barwich. In that year, James Franck and Hertz were jointly awarded the Max Planck Medal by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. Hertz remained in the Soviet Union until 1955.
Return to Germany
Upon return from the Soviet Union, Hertz became ordinarius professor at the University of Leipzig
. From 1955 to 1967, he was also the chairman of the Physical Society of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik
; he was honorary chairman from 1967 to 1975.
Hertz was a Member of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, Corresponding Member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a Member of the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
In 1919, Hertz married Ellen née Dihlmann, who died in 1941. They had two sons, Carl Hellmuth Hertz
and Johannes Hertz, both physicists.
- J. Franck and G. Hertz Über Zusammenstöße zwischen Elektronen und Molekülen des Quecksilberdampfes und die Ionisierungsspannung desselben, Verh. Dtsch. Phys. Ges. 16 457–467 (1914).
- Gustav Hertz Über das ultrarote Adsorptionsspektrum der Kohlensäure in seiner Abhängigkeit von Druck und Partialdruck. (Dissertation). (Vieweg Braunschweig, 1911)
- Gustav Hertz (editor) Lehrbuch der Kernphysik I-III (Teubner, 1961-1966)
- Gustav Hertz (editor) Grundlagen und Arbeitsmethoden der Kernphysik (Akademie Verlag, 1957)
- Gustav Hertz Gustav Hertz in der Entwicklung der modernen Physik (Akademie Verlag, 1967)
- Albrecht, Ulrich, Andreas Heinemann-Grüder, and Arend Wellmann Die Spezialisten: Deutsche Naturwissenschaftler und Techniker in der Sowjetunion nach 1945 (Dietz, 1992, 2001) ISBN 3320017888
- Barwich, Heinz and Elfi Barwich Das rote Atom (Fischer-TB.-Vlg., 1984)
- Beneke, Klaus Die Kolloidwissenschaftler Peter Adolf Thiessen, Gerhart Jander, Robert Havemann, Hans Witzmann und ihre Zeit (Knof, 2000)
- Heinemann-Grüder, Andreas Die sowjetische Atombombe (Westfaelisches Dampfboot, 1992)
- Heinemann-Grüder, Andreas Keinerlei Untergang: German Armaments Engineers during the Second World War and in the Service of the Victorious Powers in Monika Renneberg and Mark Walker (editors) Science, Technology and National Socialism 30-50 (Cambridge, 2002 paperback edition) ISBN 0-521-528607
- Hentschel, Klaus (editor) and Ann M. Hentschel (editorial assistant and translator) Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Birkhäuser, 1996) ISBN 0-8176-5312-0
- Holloway, David Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy 1939–1956 (Yale, 1994) ISBN 0-300-06056-4
- Kruglov, Arkadii The History of the Soviet Atomic Industry (Taylor and Francis, 2002)
- Maddrell, Paul "Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945–1961" (Oxford, 2006) ISBN 0-19-926750-2
- Mehra, Jagdish, and Helmut Rechenberg The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Volume 1 Part 1 The Quantum Theory of Planck, Einstein, Bohr and Sommerfeld 1900 – 1925: Its Foundation and the Rise of Its Difficulties. (Springer, 2001) ISBN 0-387-95174-1
- Naimark, Norman M. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949 (Belknap, 1995)
- Oleynikov, Pavel V. German Scientists in the Soviet Atomic Project, The Nonproliferation Review Volume 7, Number 2, 1 – 30 (2000) The author has been a group leader at the Institute of Technical Physics of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70).