Reiche, F. (Fritz), 1883-1969

Alternative names
Birth 1883
Death 1969
English, German

Biographical notes:

Fritz Reiche was born on July 4, 1883 in Berlin, Germany. He attended the University of Munich from 1901 to 1902 and the University of Berlin from 1902 to 1907. He received his Ph.D. in 1907 after studying with Max Planck. Between 1908 and 1911 Reiche was working at the University of Breslau and from 1911 to 1913 he was at the University of Berlin. In 1913 till 1921 Reiche was an instructor of theoretical physics at the University of Berlin. Also during this period he was an assistant to Professor Planck between 1915 and 1918 and worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin-Dahlem between 1919 and 1921. Up until 1921, Reiche's work focused mainly on optical theories, such as his studies on refraction principles, the diffraction of light, and the emission and absorption distribution of spectral lines. In 1921 Reiche moved to the University of Breslau as a professor of theoretical physics. At about the same time as this move, Reiche's work began to focus more on quantum theory. His position at Breslau ended abruptly with the dismissal by the Nazis of Jewish scientists in 1933. Reiche left Germany for two years for a guest lecturer position at the German University in Prague, but he returned to Berlin in 1935. Reiche held no academic position until 1941 when he and his family immigrated to the United States and he brought news of the advances in Germany towards the production of fissionable material. In 1941 h

e became an associate professor of physics at the New School for Social Research in New York. Between 1942 and 1944 he was an instructor at the City College in New York and between 1944 and 1946 he was a lecturer at Union College in Schenectady, New York. In 1946 Reiche began a position as an adjunct professor at New York University and remained there until his retirement from teaching in 1958. At NYU, Reiche taught such subjects as theoretical physics, wave mechanics, and thermodynamics. He also carried out special research projects for NASA and the U.S. Navy on supersonic flow. After 1958, Reiche continued his research as the Senior Research Scientist at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University in the division of electromagnetic research. Reiche continued his research on the difference between the number of modes of wave propagation in magneto-hydrodynamics and in electromagnetics until a few days before his death on January 18, 1969.

From the description of Papers, 1907-1998. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78253212

Fritz Reiche (1883-1969) was a German theoretical physicist who immigrated to the U.S. in 1941, as one of the last Jewish physicists to leave Germany under the Nazi government. A student and colleague of Wilhelm C. Röntgen, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Fritz Haber, Rudolf Ladenburg, James Franck, Max Born and Max von Laue, Reiche established a career in a circle of prominent scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. His academic work in the field of quantum theory earned him international recognition as a distinguished scientist. Historically, Fritz Reiche's migrant story as a displaced scholar has often been received in the context of the development of the atomic bomb in the United States, as he brought to the U.S. news of the German advances in the production of fissionable material.

Reiche grew up in Berlin. He studied physics, mathematics and chemistry at the universities of Munich and Berlin and received his Ph.D. degree under Max Planck in 1907. After three years of post-doctoral studies at the University of Breslau (1908-1911), Reiche returned to Berlin where he completed his habilitation thesis in 1913. In 1914 he married Berta Ochs, daughter of Siegfried Ochs, the founder and conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Choir. The couple had two children. During World War I, Reiche was assistant to Max Planck, 1915-18. At the same time he worked as an instructor at the University of Berlin (1913-1921), and later at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics (1919-1921). In 1921 he returned to Breslau as professor of theoretical physics, a position he held until he was dismissed by the Nazi government in 1933. Reiche left Germany for two years as a guest professor at the University of Prague, but returned to Germany in 1935. Until 1941 Reiche held no academic position.

Supported by the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars as well as by Albert Einstein and other colleagues, Reich was eventually able to immigrate with his family to the United States in 1941, where he began to reestablish his career as a scholar at various institutions in the state of New York, including the New School for Social Research (1941), City College (1942-1944), and Union College, Schenectady (1944-1946). He finally obtained a position as adjunct professor at New York University in 1946, where he taught and researched until his retirement at the age of 75. After his retirement in 1958 he continued his academic work at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences until his death in 1969.

From the guide to the Fritz Reiche Collection, 1928-2005, bulk 1939-1969, (Leo Baeck Institute)


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Ark ID:


  • Electric circuit analysis
  • Physics--Study and teaching
  • Scholars, German--Exile (Punishment)
  • Quantum theory
  • Antennas
  • Physicists, Jewish
  • Vector analysis
  • Electricity
  • Aerodynamics
  • Mathematical physics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Spectrum analysis
  • Electromagnetism
  • Mechanics
  • Optics
  • Wave-motion, Theory of
  • Physicists--Correspondence
  • Emigration and immigration; 1933-1945


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  • Berlin (Germany) (as recorded)
  • Wrocław (Poland) (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)