Born in Schickenhof, Bavaria, (now Freihung), Stark was educated at the Bayreuth Gymnasium (grammar school) and later in Regensburg. His collegiate education began at the University of Munich, where he studied physics, mathematics, chemistry, and crystallography. His tenure at that college began in 1894; he graduated in 1897, with his doctoral dissertation regarding some physics subjects of Isaac Newton.
Stark worked in various positions at the Physics Institute of his alma mater until 1900, when he became an unsalaried lecturer at the University of Göttingen. An extraordinary professor at Hanover by 1906, in 1908 he became professor at the RWTH Aachen University. He worked and researched at physics departments of several universities, including the University of Greifswald, until 1922. In 1919, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of spectral lines in electric fields" (the latter is known as the Stark effect). From 1933 until his retirement in 1939, Stark was elected President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, while also President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
Stark published more than 300 papers, mainly regarding electricity and other such topics. He received various awards including the Nobel Prize, the Baumgartner Prize of the Vienna Academy of Sciences (1910), the Vahlbruch Prize of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences (1914), and the Matteucci Medal of the Rome Academy. Probably his best known contribution to the field of physics is the Stark effect, which he discovered in 1913.
He married Luise Uepler, and they had five children. His hobbies were the cultivation of fruit trees and forestry. He worked in his private laboratory on his country estate in Upper Bavaria after the war. There he studied the deflection of light in an electric field.
During the Nazi regime, Stark attempted to become the Führer of German physics through the Deutsche Physik ("German physics") movement (along with Philipp Lenard) against the "Jewish physics" of Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg (who wasn't Jewish). After Werner Heisenberg defended Albert Einstein's theory of relativity Stark wrote an angry article in the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps, calling Heisenberg a "White Jew".
On August 21 1934 Stark wrote to physicist and fellow Nobel laureate Max von Laue to toe the party line or else. The letter was signed off with a "Heil Hitler. In his 1934 book Nationalsozialismus und Wissenschaft (English: "National Socialism and Science") Stark maintained that the priority of the scientist was to serve the nation -- thus, the important fields of research were those that could help German arms production and industry. He attacked theoretical physics as "Jewish" and stressed that scientific positions in Nazi Germany should only be held by pure-blooded Germans.
The appliance of science in a vacuum ; Hitler's Scientists: Science, War and the Devil's Pact By John Cornwell, Viking, 535 pp. (pounds) 20
Oct 25, 2003; I read this lengthy volume in one sitting, utterly gripped. John Cornwell writes elegantly and clearly, and, as a non-scientist,...