Karl Wirtz

Karl Wirtz

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Karl Eugen Julius Wirtz was a German nuclear physicist. He was arrested by the allied British and American Armed Forces and incarcerated at Farm Hall for six months in 1945 under Operation Epsilon
Operation Epsilon
Operation Epsilon was the codename of a program in which Allied forces near the end of World War II detained ten German scientists who were thought to have worked on Nazi Germany's nuclear program. The scientists were captured between May 1 and June 30, 1945, and interned at Farm Hall, a bugged...

.

Education


From 1929 to 1934, Wirtz studied physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 at the University of Bonn
University of Bonn
The University of Bonn is a public research university located in Bonn, Germany. Founded in its present form in 1818, as the linear successor of earlier academic institutions, the University of Bonn is today one of the leading universities in Germany. The University of Bonn offers a large number...

, the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, and the University of Breslau. He received his doctorate in 1934 under C. Schäfer. From 1935 to 1937, he was a teaching assistant to Carl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer
Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer
-Life:Born in Breslau, he was an older brother of martyred theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.Bonhoeffer studied from 1918 in Tübingen and Berlin, finishing his PhD in 1922 in Berlin with Walther Nernst. From 1923 to 1930 he was an assistant with Fritz Haber at Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical...

 at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

. During this period, he became a member of the Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund (NSLB, National Socialist Teachers League), but not the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP, National Socialist German Workers Party). Some of the more established scientists, such as Max von Laue
Max von Laue
Max Theodor Felix von Laue was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals...

, could demonstrate more autonomy than the younger and less established scientists. This was, in part, due to political organizations, such as the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Dozentenbund (NSDDB, National Socialist German University Lecturers League), whose district leaders had a decisive role in the acceptance of an Habilitationsschrift, which was a prerequisite to attaining the rank of Privatdozent
Privatdozent
Privatdozent or Private lecturer is a title conferred in some European university systems, especially in German-speaking countries, for someone who pursues an academic career and holds all formal qualifications to become a tenured university professor...

 necessary to becoming a university lecturer. Hence joining such organizations became a tactical career consideration. In 1938, he completed his Habilitation
Habilitation
Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

 at the Humboldt University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 with a Habilitationsshrift on the electrochemical foundations of electrolytic heavy water
Heavy water
Heavy water is water highly enriched in the hydrogen isotope deuterium; e.g., heavy water used in CANDU reactors is 99.75% enriched by hydrogen atom-fraction...

 production.

Career


In 1937, Wirtz became a staff scientist at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics), an institute under the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG, Kaiser Wilhelm Society) and located in Dahlem-Berlin
Dahlem
Dahlem can refer to:*Dahlem , a district of Berlin, part of the borough Steglitz-Zehlendorf.*Dahlem, North Rhine-Westphalia, a municipality in western Germany.*Dahlem, Rhineland-Palatinate, a municipality in south-western Germany....

. In 1940, he worked on the horizontal layer reactor design with Fritz Bopp
Friedrich Bopp
Friedrich Arnold Bopp was a German theoretical physicist who contributed to nuclear physics and quantum field theory. He worked at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik and with the Uranverein. He was a professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a President of the Deutsche...

 and Erich Fischer
Erich Fischer
Erich Horst Fischer was a German experimental physicist. He worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics and contributed to the German nuclear energy project, also known as the Uranium Club...

. In 1941, he also became a Privatdozent
Privatdozent
Privatdozent or Private lecturer is a title conferred in some European university systems, especially in German-speaking countries, for someone who pursues an academic career and holds all formal qualifications to become a tenured university professor...

 at the Humboldt University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

. In 1944, Wirtz was appointed head of the experimental department at the KWIP, which had been moved to Hechingen
Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

 in 1943 to avoid bombing casualties to the personnel. In late spring 1945, Wirtz was arrested by the allied British and American Armed Forces and incarcerated at Farm Hall for six months under Operation Epsilon
Operation Epsilon
Operation Epsilon was the codename of a program in which Allied forces near the end of World War II detained ten German scientists who were thought to have worked on Nazi Germany's nuclear program. The scientists were captured between May 1 and June 30, 1945, and interned at Farm Hall, a bugged...

.

From 1946, Wirtz worked at the Max-Planck Institut für Physik
Max Planck Institute for Physics
Max Planck Institute for Physics is a physics institute in Munich, Germany that specializes in High Energy Physics and Astroparticle physics. It is part of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and is also known as the Werner Heisenberg Institute, after its first director.It was founded as the Kaiser Wilhelm...

, which was the renamed Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics and had been opened in the British Occupation Zone in Göttingen. From 1948 to 1957, he was also an extraordinarius professor at the Georg-August University of Göttingen
Georg-August University of Göttingen
The University of Göttingen , known informally as Georgia Augusta, is a university in the city of Göttingen, Germany.Founded in 1734 by King George II of Great Britain and the Elector of Hanover, it opened for classes in 1737. The University of Göttingen soon grew in size and popularity...

. From 1950, he also became a scientific member of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft.
From 1957 to 1979, Wirtz was an ordinarius professor of physical foundations of reactor technology at the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe and director of the Institute of Neutron Physics and Reactor Technology at the Center for Nuclear Research, which was established in 1957 in Karlsruhe. From 1965 to 1967, he was chairman of the scientific council of the Karlsruhe Center for Nuclear Research. From 1974 to 1976, he was dean of the faculty of mechanical engineering at Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe.

Organizations

  • 1966 – 1968: Executive Vice President of the European Atomic Energy Society and consultant to the West German Government in affairs related to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
    Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
    The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

    .

  • 1972 – 1977: Member of the presiding committee of the Deutsches Atomforum (Atomic Forum).

Internal Reports


The following reports were published in Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte
Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte
Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte was an internal publication of the German Uranverein, which was initiated under the Heereswaffenamt in 1939; in 1942, supervision of the Uranverein was turned over to the Reichsforschungsrat under the Reichserziehungsministerium...

(Research Reports in Nuclear Physics), an internal publication of the German Uranverein
German nuclear energy project
The German nuclear energy project, , was an attempted clandestine scientific effort led by Germany to develop and produce the atomic weapons during the events involving the World War II...

. The reports were classified Top Secret, they had very limited distribution, and the authors were not allowed to keep copies. The reports were confiscated under the Allied Operation Alsos
Operation Alsos
Operation Alsos was an effort at the end of World War II by the Allies , branched off from the Manhattan Project, to investigate the German nuclear energy project, seize German nuclear resources, materials and personnel to further American research and to prevent their capture by the Soviets, and...

 and sent to the United States Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

 for evaluation. In 1971, the reports were declassified and returned to Germany. The reports are available at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center and the American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...

.
  • Erica Cremer and Karl Wirtz Untersuchungen des Schwerwassergehaltes einiger technischer Elektrolyseure in Deutschland G-21 (21 June 1940)

  • Karl Wirtz Bericht II. Eine 10-stufige Elektrolyseuranlage zur Gewinnung von schwerem Wasser G-61 (19 January 1940)

  • Fritz Bopp
    Friedrich Bopp
    Friedrich Arnold Bopp was a German theoretical physicist who contributed to nuclear physics and quantum field theory. He worked at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik and with the Uranverein. He was a professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a President of the Deutsche...

    , Erich Fischer
    Erich Fischer
    Erich Horst Fischer was a German experimental physicist. He worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics and contributed to the German nuclear energy project, also known as the Uranium Club...

    , Werner Heisenberg
    Werner Heisenberg
    Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...

    , Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker
    Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
    Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German physicist and philosopher. He was the longest-living member of the research team which performed nuclear research in Germany during the Second World War, under Werner Heisenberg's leadership...

    , and Karl Wirtz Untersuchungen mit neuen Schichtenanordnungen aus U-metall und Paraffin G-127 (March 1942)

  • Werner Heisenberg, Fritz Bopp, Erich Fischer, Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker, and Karl Wirtz Messungen an Schichtenanordnungen aus 38-Metall und Paraffin G-162 (30 October 1942)

  • Karl Wirtz Die elektrolytische Schwerwassergewinnung in Norwegen G-198 (26–28 February 1942)

  • Karl Wirtz Einrichtung der Elektrolyse zur Aufbearbeitung von schwerem Wasser G-296 (8 August 1944)

  • Fritz Bopp, Walther Bothe
    Walther Bothe
    Walther Wilhelm Georg Bothe was a German nuclear physicist, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1954 with Max Born....

    , Erich Fischer, Erwin Fünfer, Werner Heisenberg, O. Ritter, and Karl Wirtz Bericht über einen Versuch mit 1.5 to D2O und U und 40 cm Kohlerückstreumantel (B7) G-300 (3 January 1945)

Selected Literature

  • Horst Korsching and Karl Wirtz Trennung von Flüssigkeitsgemischen mittels kombinierter Thermodiffusion und Thermosiphonwirkung: Methode von Clusius
    Klaus Clusius
    Klaus Clusius was a German physical chemist from Breslau , Silesia. During World War II, he worked on the German nuclear energy project, also known as the Uranium Club; he worked on isotope separation techniques and heavy water production...

     und Dickel
    , Naturwissenschaften Volume 27, Number 7, Page 110 (February, 1939)

Books

  • Horst Korsching
    Horst Korsching
    Horst Korsching was a German physicist. He was arrested by the allied British and American Armed Forces and incarcerated at Farm Hall for six months in 1945 under Operation Epsilon.-Education:...

     and Karl Wirtz Trennung der Zinkisotope durch Thermodiffusion in flussiger Phase (Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1939)

  • Karl Heinrich Beckurts and Karl Wirtz Neutron Physics (Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, 1964)

  • Karl Winnacker and Karl Wirtz Das unverstandene Wunder: Kernenergie in Deutschland (Econ, 1975) ISBN 3430197929

  • Karl Winnacker and Karl Wirtz Atome Illusion ou Miracle? (P.U.F., 1977)

  • Karl Wirtz Lectures on Fast Reactors (Universität Karlsruhe, 1978, 1982)

  • Karl Winnacker and Karl Wirtz Nuclear Energy in Germany (American Nuclear Society, 1993) ISBN 0894480189

External links