Friedrich Dessauer was born in Aschaffenburg, Germany. As a young man he was fascinated by new discoveries in the natural sciences. He was particularly interested in the X-rays discovered by Röntgen and their medical applications. Dessauer studied at the Goethe university in Frankfurt am Main until 1917. From 1924 to 1933 he was a Center party member of the Reichstag, the German Parliament. When the Nazis came to power he moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where he established the biophysical and radiological institute.
Turkey’s founding fathers were keenly aware of the usefulness for X-rays in medical diagnostics. It was also understood that it would have been folly to simply invite physicians who knew something about the extant X-ray techniques. As a result of scientific developments coming at a fast pace in the West, these techniques each had a short lifespan as it was improved upon. It would have also been folly to bring even the best and the latest equipment to a country without the infrastructure to maintain and to upgrade it. Quite correctly, it was decided to invite research physicists and experienced engineers along with some knowledgeable doctors and nurses. Friedrich Dessauer was the first physicist brought in while Carl Weissglass, Nikolaus Wolodkewitsch, and Kurt Lion were his engineers. Additionally, Erich Uhlmann, a radiologist with a record of scientific publications in radiotherapy going back to 1923, was brought in from Frankfurt University in November 1934. He and Dessauer were the first case of a physicist/physician collaboration in the field of radiotherapy in Turkey. The “Frankfurt” team also included Grete Lindenbaum, a nurse who was experienced in radiology. Friedrich Dessauer was the most senior of the “Roentgen machine” pioneers. He was jailed in Frankfurt for his anti-Nazi beliefs. Significantly at the request of the Turkish government, he was released in 1934 and allowed to join the University of Istanbul faculty where he was given the Chair of the Institute. In 1937, Dessauer left. He went to Fribourg University in Switzerland and became the chair for experimental physics. After Dessauer’s departure Uhlmann left for Chicago at the end of summer of that year, and Lindenbaum went to what was then Palestine. The University of Istanbul with help of Turkey's central government wasted no time to recruit a new radiology focused team of physicians, nurses, and engineers. The replacements were all from Vienna. They were all in jeopardy because of the Nazi regime after Austria's Anschluss with Germany in 1938. In 1937, Dessauer was appointed professor of experimental physics at Fribourg, Switzerland. Although he had strong political interests, he dedicated most of his life to the study of radioactivity.From: A.Reisman (2006) TURKEY'S MODERNIZATION:Refugees from Nazism and Atatürk’s Vision. New Academia Publishers, Washington, DC. with permission.
He was also famous for his work on the philosophy of technology, defending it and describing it as "a new way for human beings to exist in the world".