Guide to the Papers of Fritz Reiche (1883-1969)

AR 25185

Processed by Florian Siedlarek and LBI Staff

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2012 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in August 2012. Description is in English.
October 15, 2014  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Reiche, Fritz, 1883-1969
Title: Fritz Reiche Collection
Dates:bulk 1939-1969
Abstract: Papers in this collection pertain to the academic life and career of theoretical physicist Fritz Reiche in Germany and the United States. Included are a curriculum vitae, memoirs, letters of recommendation, clippings from public documents such as newspaper articles, faculty letters, obituaries, as well as some personal correspondence, a death certificate, a manuscript and a few photographs.
Languages: The collection is in English and some German.
Quantity: 0.25
Identification: AR 25185
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note
Portrait of Fritz Reiche (1883-1969)

Portrait of Fritz Reiche (1883-1969)

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.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents Fritz Reiche’s professional life in Germany and the United States, his immigration as a displaced scholar, as well as the reception of his scientific work and teaching.

A very detailed curriculum vitae authored by Reiche himself, together with personal memoirs by his son, Hans, illustrates the network of distinguished physicists that Reiche joined in the course of his academic career. Letters of recommendation by prominent figures, such as Albert Einstein and Max Born, give further evidence of the supportive role this network played in helping Reiche and his family obtain immigration visas and reestablishing his career in the United States.

Some personal correspondence composed mostly of birthday wishes, a few photographs of Reiche and his colleagues, a death certificate, as well as a manuscript of his final, unfinished work on electromagnetic waves supplement this collection.

Also included are finding aids to the Fritz Reiche collection at the American Physics Institute which holds an abundance of related material.

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The collection consists of one series, arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

Kaiser Wilhelm-Institut fuer Physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie Collection (AR 11004)

For additional material, researchers may consult the Center for the History of Physics at the American Physics Institute, which holds an extensive collection of documents pertaining to Fritz Reiche's life and career. A finding aid to this collection is included. It can also be accessed online:

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Separated Material

Reiche's copy of Born, Max: Max Karl Ernest Ludwig Planck 1858-1947, has been moved to the LBI library collection.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Fritz Reiche Collection, AR 25185; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The material in this collection has been rearranged in chronological order. Biographical documents have been grouped into one folder.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Fritz Reiche, 1928-2005

This series is in English and some German.
0.25 linear feet.


11Photographsundated, 1928-1929
12Biographyundated, 1939-1942, 1969
13Correspondence1958, 1963
14Clippings, Obituaries, Articles1965-2005
16Finding Aids (American Physics Institute)1971, 2002
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