Famous German Chemists

The fact that Germany alone has so many Nobel Laureates in chemistry aptly describes the country’s grand contribution in the subject. Their research and investigation in the field of chemistry has been exemplary for mankind as it has led to many discoveries and inventions. Germans scientists have contributed in varied sub-fields of chemistry, such as plant pigmentation, thermochemistry, carotenoids, vitamins, discovery in the field of macromolecular chemistry, and so on that have greatly impacted the life of people. Robert Bunsen was amongst the earliest known German chemists of the world. A pioneer in photochemistry, he developed several gas-analytical methods and was also the man behind the Bunsen burner, named after him, which was used in laboratories then. Some other greatest German chemists of all time include Hermann Emil Fischer, Fritz Haber, Richard Kuhn, Otto Hahn, Kurt Alder, Gerhard Ertl and Stefan W Hell. All of them and many more have left an indelible mark on the field of chemistry and impacted our lives with their outstanding work and contribution. Right from Haber’s development and weaponizing of chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I to Baeyer’s synthesis of indigo that coloured our jeans blue, German chemists need to be credited time and again. With this segment, find out more about famous German chemists.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Fritz Haber
(Chemist)

Fritz Haber
7
Birthdate: December 9, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: January 29, 1934

Fritz Haber was a German chemist who was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the Haber-Bosch process. The process is used widely to synthesize ammonia from hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas. For his pioneering work in weaponizing poisonous gases like chlorine during World War I, Haber is referred to as the father of chemical warfare.

 2 
Otto Hahn
(Chemist)

Otto Hahn
5
Birthdate: March 8, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: July 28, 1968
Nobel Prize-winning German chemist Otto Hahn is remembered for revolutionary discovery of nuclear fission, along with Fritz Strassmann. Born to a glazier, he was pushed to study architecture but chose chemistry instead. He spent his final years grieving the death of his only son in a car accident.

 3 
Robert Bunsen
(Chemist)

Robert Bunsen
4
Birthdate: March 30, 1811
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Göttingen
Died: August 16, 1899

Chemist Robert Bunsen paved the path for spectrum analysis with his discovery that every element emits a light of a particular wavelength. He also co-developed and lent his name to the Bunsen burner. He almost died of arsenic poisoning and lost sight in his right eye in a laboratory explosion.

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 4 

Justus von Liebig
4
Birthdate: May 12, 1803
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: April 18, 1873

German chemist Justus von Liebig is best known for his research on organic compounds and his contribution to biochemistry and agriculture. The Copley Medal-winning scientist initially studied pharmacy but later switched to chemistry. As a professor, he stressed on laboratory-based teaching of chemistry and separating it from pharmacy, opposing traditional methods.

 5 
Friedrich Wöhler
(German chemist)

Friedrich Wöhler
4
Birthdate: July 31, 1800
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Eschersheim
Died: September 23, 1882

Friedrich Wöhler was a German chemist best remembered for his contribution to the field of inorganic chemistry. He was the first person to isolate the chemical elements yttrium and beryllium in pure metallic form. Friedrich Wöhler was also the first person to prepare many inorganic compounds such as silicon nitride and silane.

 6 

George de Hevesy
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1885
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: July 5, 1966

Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian-Swedish chemist George de Hevesy is best remembered for his research on isotopic tracer techniques to study animal metabolism. He is also credited with co-discovering the element hafnium with physicist Dirk Coster. He fled the Nazi regime and moved first to Denmark and then to Sweden.

 7 

August Kekulé
4
Birthdate: September 7, 1829
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: July 13, 1896

August Kekulé was a German organic chemist. Regarded as one of the most important chemists in Europe, Kekulé is credited with founding the theory of chemical structure, including the Kekulé structure of benzene. Kekulé is also credited with teaching future Nobel Prize winners, Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff Jr., Hermann Emil Louis Fischer, and Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer.

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 8 

Wilhelm Ostwald
4
Birthdate: September 2, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Riga
Died: April 4, 1932

Wilhelm Ostwald was a Baltic German philosopher and chemist who is credited with co-founding the field of physical chemistry. A polymath, Ostwald made significant contributions to philosophy, art, and politics, especially after his retirement from academic life. His contributions to the fields of reaction velocities, chemical equilibria, and catalysis earned him the 1909 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 9 

Carl Wilhelm Scheele
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stralsund, Germany
Died: May 21, 1786

Born to a German merchant, Carl Wilhelm Scheele was initially trained as a pharmacist but later switched to chemistry. He began his academic career in Sweden. He is best known for discovering oxygen, apart from countless chemical elements such as barium and chlorine and many organic acids.

 10 
Joachim Sauer
(Quantum Chemist and Professor Emeritus of Physical and Theoretical)

Joachim Sauer
5
Birthdate: April 19, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hosena, Senftenberg, Germany

Joachim Sauer is a German professor emeritus of theoretical and physical chemistry at the prestigious Humboldt University of Berlin. Sauer is an active research scientist in computational and quantum chemistry. His work has helped understand the structures and activities of catalysts like zeolites. Joachim Sauer has won several prestigious awards such as the Schrödinger Medal and Liebig Medal.

Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1780
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hof, Germany
Died: March 24, 1849

German chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner was born amid poverty but managed to get training as an apothecary. After his university education, he taught at the University of Jena. His discovery of the fact that certain chemical elements were similar later led to the development of the periodic law of chemistry.

 12 

Clara Immerwahr
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1870
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wojczyce, Poland
Died: May 2, 1915

Clara Immerwahr was a German chemist who became the first German woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry. Apart from being a chemist, Clara Immerwahr was also a pacifist and a women's rights activist. Her work, marriage with the popular chemist Fritz Haber, and her suicide at the age of 44 have inspired films, novels, and TV series.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge
5
Birthdate: February 8, 1794
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: March 25, 1867

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was a German analytical chemist best remembered for identifying caffeine. He is also credited with identifying the mydriatic effects of belladonna extract and discovering the first coal tar dye. Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was also the first person to observe the phenomenon of Liesegang rings in 1855.

 14 
Carl Bosch
(Chemist & Engineer)

Carl Bosch
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1874
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: April 26, 1940

Carl Bosch was a German engineer and chemist. He is credited with founding IG Farben, which went on to become one of the largest chemical companies in the world. He is also credited with developing the Haber–Bosch process, which is used even today for the production of ammonia. Carl Bosch was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1931.

 15 

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim
3
Birthdate: August 7, 1987
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Heppenheim, Germany

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim is a German chemist, television presenter, science communicator, and YouTuber. A multi-talented personality, Nguyen-Kim has won many prestigious awards such as the Grimme Online Award, Georg von Holtzbrinck Prize for Science Journalism, Hanns Joachim Friedrichs Award, and Heinz Oberhummer Award for Science Communication.

 16 

Hermann Staudinger
3
Birthdate: March 23, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Worms, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Died: September 8, 1965

Hermann Staudinger was a German organic chemist whose demonstration of the existence of polymers earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1953. He also played a key role in the development of pyrethroid insecticides as he was able to explain clearly the molecular structures of pyrethrin I and pyrethrin II. Hermann Staudinger is also credited with discovering ketenes. 

 17 
Hennig Brand
(Merchant)

Hennig Brand
3
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

Apart from being an army officer and a physician, Hennig Brand was also an alchemist who was constantly looking for the mythical philosopher’s stone. His research led him to discover phosphorus by accident, which he kept a secret, though it was later formally discovered by Robert Boyle from England.

 18 

Adolf von Baeyer
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1835
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: August 20, 1917

Adolf von Baeyer was a German chemist who is best known for synthesizing indigo. Interested in science from a young age,  he studied chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, where his mentor was the prominent organic chemist August Kekulé. He went on to have a successful career and received the 1905 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 19 
Walther Nernst
(Physicist and Chemist)

Walther Nernst
3
Birthdate: June 25, 1864
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wąbrzeźno
Died: November 18, 1941

Walther Nernst was a German chemist best remembered for his work in physical chemistry, thermodynamics, solid state physics, and electrochemistry. He is credited with formulating the Nernst heat theorem, which was in turn used in the formulation of the third law of thermodynamics. Walther Nernst received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 1920.

 20 
Joseph von Fraunhofer
(Physicist, Astronomer, Chemist)

Joseph von Fraunhofer
3
Birthdate: March 6, 1787
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Straubing
Died: June 7, 1826

Joseph von Fraunhofer was a Bavarian optical lens manufacturer and physicist. He is credited with developing diffraction grating and inventing the spectroscope. He is also credited with discovering the Fraunhofer lines, the dark absorption lines produced in the spectrum of the sun. The Fraunhofer Society, Europe's biggest Society for the Advancement of Applied Research, is named in his honor.

 21 
Martin Heinrich Klaproth
(Chemist, Pharmacist, University teacher)

Martin Heinrich Klaproth
3
Birthdate: December 1, 1743
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wernigerode
Died: January 1, 1817

 22 
Hans Fischer
(Chemist)

Hans Fischer
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Höchst on Main, Germany
Died: March 31, 1945

Hans Fischer was a German organic chemist best known for his research into the constitution of haemin and chlorophyll, for which he was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. During the early years of his career, he worked at the First Berlin Chemical Institute under Emil Fischer. He later pursued an academic career. 

 23 

Hermann Emil Fischer
2
Birthdate: October 9, 1852
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Euskirchen, Germany
Died: July 15, 1919

Hermann Emil Fischer was a German chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1902. He is credited with discovering the Fischer esterification, which is named in his honor. He is also credited with developing the Fischer projection, which was originally used for the depiction of carbohydrates. Several chemical reactions and concepts like Fischer glycosidation are named after him.

 24 
Felix Hoffmann
(Chemist, Inventor, Pharmacist, Non-fiction writer)

Felix Hoffmann
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg
Died: February 8, 1946

Felix Hoffmann was a German chemist best remembered for re-synthesizing diamorphine, which was later popularized as heroin. Hoffmann is also known for synthesizing aspirin, although it is still unclear whether he synthesized it on his own or under the direction of Arthur Eichengrün. In 2002, Felix Hoffmann was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

 25 
Fritz Strassmann
(Chemist, University teacher)

Fritz Strassmann
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1902
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boppard
Died: April 22, 1980

 26 
August Wilhelm von Hofmann
(Chemist, University teacher)

August Wilhelm von Hofmann
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1818
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gießen
Died: May 5, 1892

 27 
Eduard Buchner
(Nobel Laureate in Chemistry)

Eduard Buchner
3
Birthdate: May 20, 1860
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Munich
Died: August 13, 1917

Nobel Prize-winning German biochemist Eduard Buchner was the first to demonstrate how the enzymes in yeast cause the fermentation of carbohydrates. He also taught at various universities, such as Berlin and Breslau. He died in the Battle of Mărășești, while serving as a major, during World War I.

 28 
Richard Kuhn
(Biochemist)

Richard Kuhn
2
Birthdate: December 3, 1900
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died: August 1, 1967

Richard Kuhn was an Austrian-German biochemist whose work on vitamins and carotenoids earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1938. Over the course of his illustrious career, Richard Kuhn also won several other prestigious awards, such as the Wilhelm Exner Medal in 1952 and the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art in 1961.

 29 
Manfred Eigen
(Biophysical Chemist)

Manfred Eigen
2
Birthdate: May 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bochum, Germany
Died: February 6, 2019

Remembered for his research on rapid chemical reactions, Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Manfred Eigen was born to a musician father and was initially interested in the piano. Eigen was part of the German army during World War II and later escaped the Soviets to join the University of Göttingen.

 30 
Gerhard Herzberg
(Physical Chemist, Physicist)

Gerhard Herzberg
2
Birthdate: December 25, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamburg, Imperial Germany
Died: March 3, 1999

German-Canadian physicist Gerhard Herzberg is remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning work on ascertaining the electronic structure of molecules, particularly free radicals. He had escaped to Canada following the rise of the Nazis and later also worked in the U.S. His doctoral students included Japanese chemist Takeshi Oka.

 31 
Gerhard Ertl
(Physicist)

Gerhard Ertl
2
Birthdate: October 10, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bad Cannstatt, Stuttgart, Germany

 32 
Adolf Butenandt
(Biochemist, Chemist, Politician, University teacher)

Adolf Butenandt
2
Birthdate: March 24, 1903
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bremerhaven
Died: January 18, 1995

 33 
Karl Ziegler
(Chemist)

Karl Ziegler
2
Birthdate: November 26, 1898
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: November 26, 1898, Helsa, Germany
Died: August 12, 1973

Karl Ziegler was a German chemist whose work on polymers earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963, which he shared with Giulio Natta. Ziegler is also renowned for his work involving organometallic compounds and free-radicals. He is also credited with developing Ziegler-Natta catalyst. During his career, Ziegler won many awards, including the Werner von Siemens Ring.

 34 
Bruno Tesch
(Chemist, Businesspeople)

Bruno Tesch
0
Birthdate: August 14, 1890
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: May 16, 1946

 35 

Rudolf Erich Raspe
2
Birthdate: August 14, 1890, 1736
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: November 1, 1794

 36 

Georg Ernst Stahl
2
Birthdate: October 22, 1659
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ansbach, Germany
Died: May 14, 1734

 37 
Kurt Alder
(Chemist)

Kurt Alder
2
Birthdate: July 10, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Königshütte (Chorzów), Silesia
Died: June 20, 1958

Kurt Alder was a German chemist whose work on the Diels-Alder reaction, which is named after him and his teacher Diels, earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1950. Alder is also remembered for working with Ferdinand Münz, the inventor of EDTA. Over the course of his career, Kurt Alder won many prestigious awards and honorary degrees.

 38 

Julius Lothar Meyer
2
Birthdate: August 19, 1830
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Varel, Germany
Died: April 11, 1895

 39 
Ida Noddack
(Chemist)

Ida Noddack
2
Birthdate: February 25, 1896
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wesel, Germany
Died: September 24, 1978

 40 

Richard Willstätter
2
Birthdate: August 13, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Karlsruhe
Died: August 3, 1942

German chemist Richard Willstätter is best remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning research on chlorophyll and the structures of other plant pigments. He taught at ETH Zürich and the universities of Berlin and Munich but later resigned from his post at Munich as a protest against anti-Jew attacks.

Christian Friedrich Schönbein
2
Birthdate: October 18, 1799
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Metzingen, Germany
Died: August 29, 1868

German chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein is best remembered for his discovery of ozone and the fuel cell. He also discovered guncotton, or nitrocellulose, as a result of a kitchen accident. He was an apprentice at a chemical firm at 13 and grew up to teach at the at the University of Basel.

 42 
Georg Wittig
(Organic Chemist)

Georg Wittig
2
Birthdate: June 16, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 26, 1987

 43 
Otto Diels
(Chemist)

Otto Diels
2
Birthdate: January 23, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: March 7, 1954

 44 

Ernst Otto Fischer
2
Birthdate: November 10, 1918
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Solln, near Munich, German Empire
Died: July 23, 2007

 45 
Ludwig Mond
(Chemist)

Ludwig Mond
2
Birthdate: March 7, 1839
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kassel, Germany
Died: December 11, 1909

 46 
Hermann Kolbe
(Chemist)

Hermann Kolbe
2
Birthdate: September 27, 1818
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Elliehausen, Germany
Died: November 25, 1884

 47 
Otto Wallach
(Chemist)

Otto Wallach
1
Birthdate: March 27, 1847
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Königsberg
Died: February 26, 1931

 48 
Viktor Meyer
(Chemist)

Viktor Meyer
2
Birthdate: September 8, 1848
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 8, 1897

 49 

Friedrich Bergius
1
Birthdate: October 11, 1884
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Breslau (Wrocław), Germany
Died: March 30, 1949

 50 
Heinrich Otto Wieland
(Father of Biochemistry)

Heinrich Otto Wieland
1
Birthdate: June 4, 1877
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pforzheim
Died: August 5, 1957

Heinrich Otto Wieland was a German chemist known for his research into bile acids, for which he won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He studied under prominent chemist and professor Johannes Thiele at the University of Munich. He had a brilliant academic career and worked actively to protect Jewish students after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws.