Manfred von Ardenne

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Manfred von Ardenne, around 1930

Manfred Baron von Ardenne (born January 20, 1907 in Hamburg ; † May 26, 1997 in Dresden - Weißer Hirsch ) was a German scientist. As a researcher, he was primarily active in applied physics and is the author of around 600 inventions and patents in radio and television technology, electron microscopy , nuclear , plasma and medical technology .


The German Imperium

Manfred von Ardenne, around 1933

Manfred von Ardenne was the son of the councilor Baron Egmont von Ardenne and his wife Adela nee. Mutzenbecher (1885–1978), who came from a Hamburg patrician family. The divorce affair of his grandparents Armand von Ardenne and Elisabeth von Plotho was the model for Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest . His great-grandfather was the merchant and guano importer Heinrich Ohlendorff . When his father was transferred to the War Ministry in 1913 , the family moved to Berlin-Neukölln . After two years of private tuition, Ardenne attended the Friedrichs Realgymnasium for three years , today's Leibniz School in Berlin-Kreuzberg .

Weimar Republic

Even as a schoolboy (1922) Ardenne was very interested in the natural sciences , especially in electrophysics . He constructed models of a camera and an electrical alarm system, dealt with problems in radio technology and, at the age of 16, received his first patent for a "method for achieving a tone selection, especially for the purposes of wireless telegraphy".

School in the classic sense did not suit Manfred von Ardenne. He just didn't need her. That is why he left high school prematurely in 1923 and devoted himself to the further development of radio technology. Siegmund Loewe , founder of Radiofrequenz GmbH (later Radio AG DS Loewe ), became his sponsor. Von Ardenne developed one of the first multi-system tubes together with Loewe, to whom the patent was granted. The so-called 3NF triple tube contained three triode systems, four resistors and two capacitors . It is considered to be one of the first integrated circuits and was used in the OE 333 local receiver.

Former research laboratory for electron physics in Berlin-Lichterfelde , today the children, youth and cultural center Villa Folke Bernadotte
Ardenne Institute, 1955 to 1990, in Dresden, Zeppelinstrasse 7

With royalties for his publications and money from the patent sale, Ardenne significantly improved the broadband amplifier (resistance-coupled amplifier ) in 1925 . a. decisively advanced the development of television and radar . A patent on this improvement was revoked because of prior publication. Although he did not have a high school diploma, thanks to the advocacy of Nobel Laureate Walther Nernst and Georg Graf von Arco , the technical director of Telefunken, he was able to enroll at the University of Berlin and began to study physics , chemistry and mathematics . After four semesters, he dropped out and devoted himself entirely to his research in the field of applied physics.

In 1928 Manfred von Ardenne came of age and founded the research laboratory for electron physics in Berlin-Lichterfelde (today: Villa Folke Bernadotte ), which he headed until 1945. During this time he developed a. a. the world's first electronic image decomposition and reproduction with line-by-line scanning via a photocell and reproduction on a cathode ray tube . He invented the scanning electron microscope , which he applied for a patent in February 1937.

Manfred von Ardenne achieved the world's first television transmission with a cathode ray tube on December 14, 1930 in his laboratory in Lichterfeld. At the radio exhibition in Berlin, he presented the first electronic television on August 21, 1931, with which he became internationally known on the cover of the New York Times . In the middle of the 20th century, a large number of important inventions in the fields of radio and television technology and electron microscopy went back to the work of his private research institute. The most important donor was the Reich Postal Ministry , headed by the physicist Wilhelm Ohnesorge , a comrade of his father's war comrade from the First World War .

time of the nationalsocialism

After the discovery of nuclear fission, the military potential of which he quickly recognized and about which he also provided information without concern, he immediately turned to experimental nuclear physics . He built particle accelerators ( 1 million volt van de Graaff facility , 60 ton cyclotron ) and dealt with isotope separation . He did not initiate a German atomic bomb. The theoretical physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker , one of the most important collaborators in the uranium project , had explained to him that an explosive chain reaction, as it would have to take place in a bomb, was physically impossible. Nevertheless, Ohnesorge financed a nuclear physics institute of the Reichspostministeriums Berlin-Lichterfeld-Ost in the immediate vicinity of the Ardenne Laboratory. In 1942, Ardenne wrote a secret report on a new magnetic isotope separator for high mass transport , a laboratory sample with which the first attempts to separate lithium isotopes were carried out in early 1945. Its prototype was possibly built in 1943 on an air force base in Bad Saarow . The development of the lithium separator has not yet been fully researched. It could point to the previously controversial development of a thermonuclear bomb in the time of National Socialism , for which 6 Li is a raw material. True to his principle of working on a physical problem in all possible breadth, Ardenne commissioned the theoretician Fritz Houtermans , who had been employed by him since January 1941 , to also calculate the isotope separation of uranium with an ultracentrifuge . A report already submitted by Houtermans in August 1941 on the initiation of nuclear chain reactions raised doubts about the exclusively peaceful aims of nuclear research in the facilities managed by Ardenne after the end of the war. Because Ardenne had classified the Houtermans report, in which the author showed that an element with the mass number 239 (later called plutonium ) could also be used as fuel and explosive , at the time also classified as a secret report, which was made known to a select group of German nuclear physicists has been. Almost at the same time, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker applied for a patent for a plutonium bomb.

Soviet Union

The secret final protocol of Yalta (February 1945) stipulated the use of German labor as one of three forms of reparation after the end of the Second World War. The Control Council Proclamation No. 2, Section VI, § 19a of the Allied Control Council declared the use of German workers for reparation work to be permissible outside of Germany. Labor reparations were not mentioned in the minutes of the Potsdam Conference (August 1945).

On May 10, 1945, Ardenne, on the advice of Colonel General VA Machneev, the Commissioner for the Sector of Science and Technology and Liaison Officer to the Soviet Academy of Sciences, submitted a request for scientific cooperation, which was granted. From this point in time until 1954 Ardenne worked together with other German technicians and scientists, u. a. Gustav Hertz , Max Steenbeck , Peter Adolf Thiessen and Gernot Zippe participated in the development of the Soviet atomic bomb . His research laboratory for electron physics was brought to Sukhumi in the former AbASSR (in today's Abkhazia / Georgia ), where the NKVD opened the Institute of Physics and Mathematics on July 27, 1945 . The method he worked on for the electromagnetic separation of uranium isotopes was not used in the production of the first operational Soviet atomic bombs. Due to Ardenne's preparatory work on the industrial separation of lithium isotopes, however, the Soviet Union succeeded in overtaking the USA in the nuclear arms race in developing the hydrogen bomb . In December 1953, Ardenne received the Stalin Prize, 2nd class, for his contribution . For the development and construction of an electron microscope, he had already received a bonus of 50,000 rubles in March 1947. In 1948 he designed the duoplasmatron - ion source for use in large particle accelerators and in cosmic rocket with ion engine .

German Democratic Republic

Ardenne villa with observatory, Dresden-Weißer Hirsch
Manfred von Ardenne at a meeting of the People's Chamber, 1986

After his return from the Soviet Union Ardenne built in the GDR which takes its name bearing research institute in the White Hart on in Dresden, which was characterized by an application-oriented industrial research. As already practiced in Berlin, Ardenne also implemented the principle of living and working under one roof in Dresden. With around 500 employees, the institute developed into the largest private research institute in the entire Eastern Bloc. Deputy director of the institute since 1965 was Siegfried Schiller , who from 1976 also worked for the MfS as an unofficial employee . In 1970 Ardenne appointed the physicist Peter Lenk as head of administration. Ardenne taught as a professor for special electronic problems at the TU Dresden. In total he owned about 600 patents.

In the early 1960s, Ardenne turned to medical issues. A conversation with the biochemist Otto Warburg in 1959 was decisive . Ardenne developed two different therapies: the controversial oxygen multi-step therapy , which is supposed to improve well-being and vitality, and the so-called systemic cancer multi-step therapy , which treats cancer and the metastases should be combated by hyperthermia (overheating), glucose and oxygen, possibly in combination with chemotherapy in several sessions. Ardenne was the first to use passive whole-body hyperthermia to fight cancer. Since this procedure is very strenuous, he used oxygen to support the patient during treatment.

The non-party Ardenne was a member of the People's Chamber . At the Volkskammer meeting on November 13, 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall , he recalled the original theory of a “socialist market economy”, which he founded in 1968 together with his colleague Frank Rieger from system theory and which called for the decentralization of the economy started. Since the beginning of the 1970s, he has repeatedly advocated reforms in the higher education sector. Gerhard Barkleit was the only historian to have access to his diary and his office.

Federal Republic of Germany

After the collapse of the GDR , Ardenne divided the physical-technical area of ​​his institute into the Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology and Von Ardenne Anlagentechnik GmbH (since 2013: Von Ardenne GmbH). His son Alexander von Ardenne runs the Von Ardenne Institute for Applied Medical Research .


  • 1941: Silver Leibniz Medal from the Prussian Academy of Sciences
  • 1945: Appointment to the Reich Research Council
  • 1947: Stalin Prize of the USSR for the invention of the electron microscope
  • 1953: Stalin Prize 2nd class of the USSR for the electromagnetic separation of isotopes and the production of lithium-6
  • 1958: National Prize, 1st class
  • 1958: Dr. rer. nat. hc from the University of Greifswald
  • 1958: German Peace Medal
  • 1965: National Prize, 2nd class
  • 1965: Member of the Paris International Astronautical Academy
  • 1978: Dr. med. hc from the Medical Academy Dresden
  • 1982: Dr. paed. hc from the Dresden University of Education
  • 1982: Gold medal for the Patriotic Order of Merit
  • 1983: Honorary member of the Society for Ultrasound Technology
  • 1986: Wilhelm Ostwald Medal from the Saxon Academy of Sciences
  • 1986: Richard Theile Medal of the German Television Technology Society
  • 1986: Ernst Abbe Medal from the Chamber of Technology of the GDR
  • 1987: Medal for Art and Science from the Senate of Hamburg
  • 1987: Ernst Krokowski Prize of the Society for Biological Cancer Defense
  • 1988: Ernst Haeckel Medal of the Urania
  • 1988: Diesel medal in gold from the German Institute for Invention e. V. in Munich
  • 1988: Friedrich Schiller Prize of the City of Hamburg
  • 1989: honorary citizen of Dresden
  • 1989: Colani Design France Prize


Grave of Manfred von Ardennes at the Weißer Hirsch forest cemetery

Since 1938 he was married to Bettina Bergengruen, a niece of the writer Werner Bergengruen . As an astronomer enthusiast, he built the “Volkssternwarte M. v. Ardenne ”and in 1966 a modern private observatory next to his residential palace on the Elbe slope. He celebrated his 90th birthday in 1997 with his wife and with his children and grandchildren - one daughter, three sons, eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren.

His grave is in the Weißer Hirsch forest cemetery .

In his novel Der Turm , Uwe Tellkamp obviously created the figure of Baron von Arbogast based on the model of Manfred von Ardenne and thus set a literary monument to him. Many details regarding the work and the biography up to the place of residence in Dresden with the "Volkssternwarte" on the own property match.

Works (selection)

  • 1930: The physical basics of radio systems .
  • 1933: The cathode ray tube and its application in low-voltage technology .
  • 1940: electron microscopy. Physics, technology, results. J. Springer, Berlin.
  • 1956: Tables on electron physics, ion physics and super microscopy .
  • 1956: Tables on applied nuclear physics .
  • 1962: Tables for applied physics (1962–1973)
  • 1997: Systemic cancer multi-step therapy. Hyperthermia and hyperglycaemia as a basis for therapy. Basics, conception, technology, clinic (edited by PG Reitnauer)
  • 1999: Where does oxygen multi-step therapy help? (3. Edition)


  • Gerhard Barkleit : Manfred von Ardenne. Self-realization in the century of dictatorships . 2nd Edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-428-12790-0 .
  • Jürgen Helfricht : astronomer Manfred von Ardenne. In: Astronomiegeschichte Dresdens Hellerau-Verlag, Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-910184-76-6 , pp. 112-114.
  • Rainer Karlsch: Hitler's bomb. DVA, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-421-05809-1 .
  • Michael Schaaf: Heisenberg, Hitler and the bomb, conversations with contemporary witnesses . Exp. New edition, GNT-Verlag, Diepholz 2018, ISBN 978-3-86225-115-5 (in it: "We accelerated the Russian atomic bomb." A conversation with Manfred von Ardenne , chap. 2, pp. 35–56)
  • Manfred von Ardenne: A happy life for technology and research . Autobiography. Verlag der Nation, Berlin 1972. (New edition under the title Sixty Years for Research and Progress . Verlag der Nation, Berlin 1987)
  • Manfred von Ardenne: memories, updated . Autobiography (continued). Droste 1997, ISBN 3-7700-1088-4 .
  • Reichs Handbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft - The handbook of personalities in words and pictures . First volume. Deutscher Wirtschaftsverlag, Berlin 1930, ISBN 3-598-30664-4 , p. 33.
  • Peter Nötzold, Bernd-Rainer BarthArdenne, Baron Manfred Von . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 1. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Manfred von Ardenne, Manfred Lotsch: I met them . Droste, Düsseldorf 1997, ISBN 978-3-7700-1072-1 , p. 334 .
  • Friedrich Herneck: Manfred von Ardenne . Berlin Union-Verl., 1972.
  • K. Jäger, F. Heilbronner (Hrsg.): Lexikon der Elektrotechniker , VDE Verlag, 2nd edition from 2010, Berlin / Offenbach, ISBN 978-3-8007-2903-6 , pp. 24-25

Web links

Commons : Manfred von Ardenne  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. Tube 3NF. Retrieved January 28, 2016 .
  2. The Loewe 3NFB tube - analysis of a multiple tube Link (PDF; 170 kB)
  3. local receiver OE333. Retrieved January 28, 2016 .
  4. Manfred von Ardenne's experimental television setup. Retrieved January 25, 2012 . German museum
  5. Cornelius Cob: Manfred von Ardenne - the master of television. In: Norddeutscher Rundfunk . November 19, 2019, accessed August 6, 2020 .
  6. During the war, Ohnesorge also supported the establishment of a nuclear physics institute of the Reich Ministry of Post in Zeuthen, from which the Institute for High Energy Physics (IfH) emerged after the war .
  7. ^ Rainer Karlsch : Hitler's bomb. DVA, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-421-05809-1 .
  8. ^ A b Manfred von Ardenne: A happy life for technology and research . 6th edition. Verlag der Nation, Berlin 1982, p. 389.
  9. Gerhard Barkleit: Manfred von Ardenne. Self-realization in the century of dictatorships. 2nd expanded edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, p. 70.
  10. ^ Rainer Karlsch: Hitler's bomb. DVA, Munich 2005, p. 70.
  11. Panel discussion in the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst: "Intellectual reparations: The outflow of German know-how into the USSR after the Second World War and its consequences", August 31, 2010, see also: Norbert Landsberg: Knowledge transfer in the Soviet Union. Symposium with memories of a little-known chapter in post-war history. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 12, 2014 ; Retrieved January 22, 2012 .
  12. Control Council Proclamation No. 2 . Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  13. Gerhard Barkleit: Manfred von Ardenne. Self-realization in the century of dictatorships . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-428-12790-0 , pp. 88 - 89 (therein reference to BStU Ast. Dresden. AOP 2554/76, Vol. 40, Bl. 104).
  14. Michael Schaaf: Heisenberg, Hitler and the bomb - conversations with contemporary witnesses . GNT-Verlag, Diepholz 2018, ISBN 978-3-86225-115-5 , p. 35 - 56 .
  15. Ulrike Kohl: The presidents of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in National Socialism: Max Planck, Carl Bosch and Albert Vögler between science and power (=  Pallas Athene. Contributions to the history of the university and science . Volume 5 ). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-515-08049-X , p. 30 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  16. Gerhard Barkleit: Manfred von Ardenne. Self-realization in the century of dictatorships. 2nd expanded edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, p. 125 ff.
  17. Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR (BStU), Dresden branch, AIM 2838/91.
  18. Manfred von Ardenne, Manfred Lotsch (collaborator): I met you. Guide to science, pioneers of technology, heads of politics. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1997, p. 255, ISBN 3-7700-1072-8 .
  19. Gerhard Barkleit: Cancer Research: Failure of an Innovative Approach . In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt , 2005, 102 [Issue 6], pp. A 344–348
  20. Gerhard Barkleit: Manfred von Ardenne. Self-realization in the century of dictatorships. 2nd expanded edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, p. 282 ff.
  21. Barkleit, Gerhard .: Manfred von Ardenne: Self-realization in the century of dictatorships . 2nd Edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-428-12790-0 , pp. 6th f .
  22. Company profile from Ardenne Institute for Applied Medical Research GmbH , accessed on June 22, 2017
  23. Manfred von Ardenne. In: History of Rosatom. Retrieved June 3, 2020 (Russian).
  24. He still wants to experience the applause of the doctors: Manfred von Ardenne, once the most important scientist and inventor in the GDR, will be 90 on Monday . In: Die Welt , January 18, 1997.
  25. Uwe Tellkamp : The tower. Story from a sunken land . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 3-518-42020-8 .