German theoretical physicist Max Planck is remembered for originating the quantum theory of physics, which earned him the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics. He laid down concepts such as the Planck constant and the Planck postulate. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was later renamed Max Planck Society in his honor.
Sophie Scholl was a German anti-Nazi political activist who was involved with a non-violent resistance group called White Rose. Scholl was executed by guillotine at the age of 21 for distributing anti-war leaflets. Since her death, Sophie Scholl has been viewed as an iconic figure. Her life and work have inspired several films, including Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.
Walter Benjamin was a German Jewish essayist, philosopher, and cultural critic. An eclectic thinker, Benjamin made significant contributions to literary criticism, aesthetic theory, and historical materialism. Although Benjamin's work did not earn much recognition during his lifetime, it continues to be revered by academics several years after his death.
Lou Bega became an overnight sensation with the 1999 international chartbuster Mambo No. 5, based on Pérez Prado's 1949 original. Born in Germany, Lou was the son of a Ugandan father and a Sicilian mother. Initially inspired by rap and R&B, he deviated to mambo music after a trip to Miami.
German banker Hjalmar Schacht was appreciated for his role in saving the Weimar Republic from inflation and later served as the Reichsminister of Economics under Adolf Hitler. Following as assassination attempt on Hitler, her was imprisoned, but was later freed and then set up his own bank in Düsseldorf.
Born to an ENT surgeon in Germany, Hans Adolf Krebs followed in his father’s footsteps and studied medicine. After fleeing Nazi Germany, he went to England, where he joined the University of Cambridge as a researcher. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist is remembered for his groundbreaking discovery of cellular respiration.
Gustav Ludwig Hertz was a German experimental physicist best known for his work on inelastic electron collisions in gasses, in collaboration with James Franck. They received the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics. Hertz worked at the University of Berlin and served in the military during World War I. He was a Member of the German Academy of Sciences.
Max Horkheimer was a German philosopher and sociologist. He is best known for his work in critical theory as a member of the Frankfurt School of social research. He addressed authoritarianism, economic disruption, militarism, and environmental crisis in his works. He had a successful academic career and remained an influential figure until his death. He was married to Rose Riekher.
Apart from being the first president of West Germany, Theodor Heuss, the Free Democratic Party leader, also framed the new constitution of West Germany after World War II. Previously, he was a political journalist and was targeted by Hitler. Even his books were burned for being against German interests.
Ulrich Beck was a German sociologist whose work focused on questions of uncertainty, ignorance, and uncontrollability in the modern age. One of the most cited sociologists during his lifetime, Beck is credited with coining the terms second modernity and risk society. Over the course of his career, Ulrich Beck was honored with many prestigious awards like the Schader Prize.
German anti-Semitic völkisch poet, playwright, journalist, publicist, and political activist Dietrich Eckart, one of Adolf Hitler's earliest mentors who Hitler acknowledged as the spiritual co-founder of Nazism, founded German Workers' Party, the precursor of Nazi Party. Eckart was the original publisher of the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, and lyricist of Sturmlied, the de facto anthem of the Sturmabteilung.
Nobel Prize-winning ethologist Karl von Frisch is best remembered for his research on communication among bees. He was the first to observe that bees communicate the location of food to other bees by a form of “dance.” He penned down his studies in books such as The Dancing Bees.
Lord Acton was an English Catholic historian, writer, and politician. Born to a prominent family in Naples, he was the son of a British baronet. He studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he developed a deep love of historical research. After building a career as a historian and writer, he ventured into politics as well.
Former Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus had fought against the Soviet army during World War II. After fleeing to Germany, he studied in Munich and then migrated to the U.S., where he earned a civil engineering degree. Among his many accolades are honorary doctorates from countless foreign universities.
Gershom Scholem was a German-born Israeli philosopher and historian. He is much respected as the founder of the modern academic study of Kabbalah. He became the first professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was lifelong friends with fellow philosopher Walter Benjamin and was devastated when the latter died by suicide in 1940.
A doctorate in law, Roman Herzog had initially been a teaching assistant and then a political science professor. Stepping into politics later, he was elected as the first German president following the reunification of Germany. Apart from an honorary knighthood, he also won the Charlemagne Prize.
Nobel Prize-winning German-American biophysicist Joachim Frank is best known for developing single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM. He has been associated with Columbia University as a professor for a long time and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. He has also helped ascertain the structure of ribosomes.
Rudolf Jaenisch is a German Professor of Biology currently working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. He is also one of the founding members of the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, which aims at improving human health through biomedical research. A pioneer of transgenic science, Jaenisch has been creating genetically engineered mice to study neurological diseases and cancer.
German art historian Erwin Panofsky is best remembered for his work on iconography. He moved to the U.S. in the wake of the rise of the Nazis. His studies also included Dutch painting and Gothic architecture. His supposedly lost manuscript Habilitationsschrift was recovered years later in a Nazi safe.
Alexander Schmorell was a Russian-German revolutionary best remembered for co-founding the popular resistance group White Rose, which opposed the Nazi German regime. He was executed by the Nazis and was later glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Alexander Schmorell is also venerated throughout the world by Orthodox Christians.
Otto Loewi was a German-born American psycho-biologist and pharmacologist, whose research on neurology proved that chemicals were involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Working with Sir Henry Dale, he established the role of acetylcholine as an endogenous neurotransmitter, co-winning the Nobel Prize for it. Later, he worked on diabetes and devised Loewi’s test for the detection of pancreatic disease.
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.
Eva Justin was a German anthropologist who specialised in scientific racism. Justin, who was active during the Nazi era, contributed to the crimes of the Nazis against the Roma and Sinti peoples. Eva Justin was tasked with studying children, who were then sent to concentration camps. At least 35 children studied by Eva Justin were killed in the gas chamber.
Nazi leader Eugen Fischer co-wrote Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene, which became one of the definitive texts of the Nazi policies. Hitler also made him the rector of the University of Berlin. His memoir diluted his role in the mass extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.