Karl Heinz Hellwege

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Karl Heinz Hellwege (born October 23, 1910 in Bremerhaven ; † April 12, 1999 in Darmstadt ) was a German solid-state physicist.


Hellwege studied physics from 1929 in Marburg, Munich (from 1930), Kiel (from 1931) and at the University of Göttingen , where he received his doctorate in 1934 under Robert Wichard Pohl and James Franck ( Influence of small mechanical stresses on the electrical resistance of chrome-nickel wires ) and in 1939 on long-wave infrared radiation at Georg Joos habilitated . From 1935 he was an assistant at the Second Physics Institute.

He had been a member of the SA since 1933 (he became a member of the SA Reitersturm Oberscharführer) and also a member of the NSDAP and of the NS Lecturer Association . During the Second World War he was indispensably busy with war-related research in the naval intelligence test command. For this he received the War Merit Cross in November 1944. From 1941 he was acting head of the Second Physics Institute at the University of Göttingen and achieved its recognition as a specialist armaments industry .

After the war, he initially lost his position as part of the denazification process (he was considered a supporter of the National Socialists among physicists in Göttingen) and did not get it again until 1948. He dealt again with solid state physics and published with his wife Anne Marie Röver-Hellwege many papers on energy levels in crystals, especially rare earths. In 1950 he became an adjunct professor in Göttingen and in 1952 professor of technical physics at the Institute for Technical Physics at the TU Darmstadt , where his friend Hans König from Göttingen had been appointed a year earlier . Hellwege succeeded Richard Vieweg in Darmstadt . He later became director of the Institute for Technical Physics and also from 1955 to 1968 of the German Plastics Institute founded in 1951.

In the late 1960s, due to the student unrest and the dismissal of his friend Hans König in 1967, who is said to have concealed his Nazi past when he was appointed to Darmstadt, he completely withdrew from the academic self-administration.

One of Hellwege's major merits is the initiative for the Collaborative Research Center 65 "Solid State Spectroscopy", which was established by the DFG in 1969 and lasted until 1986. Karl Heinz Hellwege retired in 1976.

From 1950 he was co-editor of Landolt-Börnstein , for which Arnold Eucken brought him in. Hellwege was the editor for over thirty years. He was primarily responsible for the 6th edition and initiated the new series in 1960 .

When cooling with liquid helium was not possible after the Second World War, he used liquid hydrogen for his experiments, where he lost a few fingers in a laboratory accident.

Hellwege died in Darmstadt at the age of 89. He was buried at sea.


  • 1944: War Merit Cross


  • Introduction to the physics of molecules. Heidelberg paperbacks. Springer, 1974, 2nd edition 1990
  • Introduction to solid state physics. Heidelberg paperbacks. 2 volumes. Springer, 1968, 3rd edition 1988 (in one volume).
  • Introduction to the physics of atoms. Wolfenbütteler Verlagsanstalt, 1949. New editions: Springer, 1964, 1970, 1974 (Heidelberger Taschenbücher).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Gerhard Rammer Göttingen physicist after 1945. On the effect of collegial networks , Göttinger Jahrbuch, Volume 51, 2003, p. 94
  2. The theorist Richard Becker stood up for him and attested him an upright and honest character. His own colleagues at the institute were more cautious and noted that they did not notice much of his research during wartime because of Hellwege's secrecy
  3. Georg Joos was originally supposed to be co-editor, but he was in the USA at the time
  4. Joachim Bargon The discovery of chemically induced dynamic polarization (CIDNP) , Helvetica Chimica Acta, Volume 89, 2006, p. 2082. According to Bargon, Hellwege then had a certain distrust of chemistry .