Klara Döpel

Klara Döpel

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Klara Renate Döpel (née Mannß) (1900 – 6 April 1945 in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 nuclear physicist and feminist. She married the German nuclear physicist Robert Döpel
Robert Döpel
Georg Robert Döpel was a German experimental nuclear physicist. He was a participant in a group known as the “first Uranverein,” which was spawned by a meeting conducted by the Reichserziehungsministerium, in April 1939, to discuss the potential of a sustained nuclear reaction...

. They worked together as a team at Leipzig University studying nuclear reactor configurations for the German nuclear energy project. Klara was killed in an air raid near the end of World War II.

Education


Form 1922/1923 to 1934, Klara Döpel studied law at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In 1934, she married the nuclear physicist Robert Döpel
Robert Döpel
Georg Robert Döpel was a German experimental nuclear physicist. He was a participant in a group known as the “first Uranverein,” which was spawned by a meeting conducted by the Reichserziehungsministerium, in April 1939, to discuss the potential of a sustained nuclear reaction...

. She changed her area of studies to physics at the Julius Maximilian University Würzburg
University of Würzburg
The University of Würzburg is a university in Würzburg, Germany, founded in 1402. The university is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group.-Name:...

.

Career


In 1938, Klara Döpel followed her husband Robert to Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, where Robert became an extraordinarius professor 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...

. Robert was a colleague of 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...

, who headed the theoretical physics department there. After the German nuclear energy project
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...

 began, Heisenberg and his staff worked on major components of the program including isotope separation
Isotope separation
Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotopes of a chemical element by removing other isotopes, for example separating natural uranium into enriched uranium and depleted uranium. This is a crucial process in the manufacture of uranium fuel for nuclear power stations, and is...

, measurements of nuclear constants, and the Uranmaschine (uranium machine, i.e., nuclear reactor). Klara and Robert worked together on Uranmaschine experimental configurations designated L 1 through L 4. Klara and Robert Döpel and Heisenberg published the Deutsche Forschungsberichte reporting on the experiments conducted there.

In August 1940, Robert and Klara Döpel, working in Leipzig, showed the utility of using 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...

 as a moderator in a nuclear reactor. They conducted experiments with a spherical geometry (hollow spheres) of uranium surrounded by heavy water. Trial L-I was done in August 1940, and L-II was conducted six months later. Results from trial L-IV, in the summer of 1942, indicated that the spherical geometry, with five metric tons of heavy water and 10 metric tons of metallic uranium, could sustain a fission reaction. The results were set forth in an article by Robert and Klara Döpel and Werner Heisenberg. The article was published in the 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), a classified internal reporting vehicle of the German nuclear energy project. 1942 was the year in which supervision of the project was transferred from the Heereswaffenamt (HWA, Army Ordnance Office) to the Reichsforschungsrat
Reichsforschungsrat
The Reichsforschungsrat was created in Germany in 1937 under the Education Ministry for the purpose of centralized planning of all basic and applied research, with the exception of aeronautical research...

(RFR, Reich Research Council).

In a letter written in December 1943, Robert Döpel recounted that air raids had destroyed 75% of Leipzig, including his institute. Air raids during that year had also burned down Döpel’s apartment building and Heisenberg’s house in Leipzig. Sixteen months later, on 6 April 1945, just 32 days before the surrender of Germany
Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day commemorates 8 May 1945 , the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not...

, Klara was killed in an air raid, while she was working in the physics building.

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...

.
  • Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Bestimmung der Diffusionslänge thermischer Neutronen in Präparat 38 (5 December 1940). G-22.

  • Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Bestimmung der Diffusionslänge thermischer Neutronen in schwerem Wasser (7 August 1940). G-23.

  • Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Versuche mit Schichtenanordnungen von D2O und 38 (28 October 1941). G-75.

  • Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Der experimentelle Nachweis der effektiven Neutronenvermehrung in einem Kugel-Schichten-System aus D2O und Uran-Metall (July 1942). G-136.

  • Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Die Neutronenvermehrung in einem D2O-38-Metallschichtensystem (March 1942). G-373.