Richard Willstätter, renowned chemist and Nobel Laureate, resigns in protest against anti-Semitic agitation.

Alte Fotografie von Richard Willsätter

Nobel Laureate Richard Willstätter.

The distinguished Jewish chemist Richard Willstätter (1872–1942) had joined the LMU faculty in 1915, and soon afterwards he won the Nobel Prize for his work on plant pigments, in particular on the structure of chlorophyll. Ten years later he retired from his post as Professor of Chemistry as a protest against the growth of anti-Semitic sentiment at LMU. He criticized not only the obsessive anti-Semitism of the students, but more particularly the fact that candidates’ racial origins had come to play a decisive role in the selection of new faculty. Thanks to the support of private individuals, Willstätter continued to carry out chemical research in Munich until 1939, when the increasing persecution of Jews in Germany forced him to emigrate to Switzerland.


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