Otto Hahn


Otto Hahn lived in Germany from 1879 to 1968, and became a famous chemist, known for the discovery of nuclear fission and his stance against the Nazi Party and his campaigns against nuclear weapons.

He was born in Frankfurt and received a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Marburg in 1901. He then worked at the University College of London in 1904, where radiothorium was famously discovered. He then continued research at McGill University in Montreal, where he discovered radioactinium, a radioactive isotope of thorium.

In 1907 he returned to Germany and lectured at the University of Berlin. In 1938 he and Fritz Strassmann discovered that barium was produced when uranium atoms were bombarded with neutrons, which they later realized was nuclear fission. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1944 and continued research. His discovery indirectly helped develop the atomic bomb and nuclear energy, but he campaigned against its use in these purposes.

Hahn was against national socialism and the persecution of Jews by the Nazi Party. After the war he was influential and well respected in West Germany. He joined the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG) in 1946 and was their last president. He was also founding president of the Max Plank Society (MPG) until 1960.

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