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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Fritz Strassmann


Fritz Strasseman

Friedrich Wilhelm "Fritz" Strassmann (1902 – 1980) was a German chemist.

In 1934, Strassmann joined Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner in their investigation of the bombardment of uranium with neutrons. His expertise in chemistry contributed to the recognition of the lighter elements produced from neutron bombardment, most notably barium. This would lead to the discovery of nuclear "fission" and the revelation that such a process could be used to create a weapon of mass destruction.

During the War, Strassmann was on the Alsos list, the Manhattan Project's military intelligence effort to capture known, enemy nuclear scientists in an attempt to learn how far Germany had progressed in its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. It was soon revealed, however, that Strassmann was not involved in any German attempt to build an atomic bomb. In fact, he and his wife Maria had concealed a Jewish friend in their apartment for months during the war, putting themselves and their three year old son at risk.

Fritz Strassmann's Timeline
1902 Feb 22nd Born in Boppard, Germany.
1929 Received Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Technical University of Hannover.
1938 Identified barium in the residue after bombarding uranium with neutrons, results which demonstrated the previously unknown phenomenon of nuclear fission.
19451953 Appointed Director of the chemistry department at the Max Planck Institute.
1966 Received the Enrico Fermi Award along with Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner for their work on nuclear fission.
1980 Apr 22nd Died in Mainz, Germany.

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