Charlotte Riefenstahl: German physicist (1899 - 1993) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Charlotte Riefenstahl
German physicist

Charlotte Riefenstahl

Charlotte Riefenstahl
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German physicist
Was Scientist Physicist
From Germany
Field Science
Gender female
Birth 24 May 1899, Bielefeld, Germany
Death 6 January 1993 (aged 93 years)
Star sign Gemini
University of Göttingen
The details (from wikipedia)


Charlotte Houtermans born: Charlotte Riefenstahl (24 May 1899 in Bielefeld, Germany – 6 January 1993 in Northfield, Minnesota, United States ) was a German physicist.


Riefenstahl began her studies at the Georg-August University of Göttingen in 1922, where her teachers included, among others, Max Born, Richard Courant, James Franck, David Hilbert, Emmy Noether, Robert Pohl, and Carl Runge. She received her doctorate under Gustav Heinrich Johann Apollon Tammann in 1927, the same year as Robert Oppenheimer, under Born, and Fritz Houtermans, under Franck. She was courted by both Oppenheimer and Houtermans.


Riefenstahl taught and was a research assistant at Vassar College, later at Winthrop College.

In 1930, Riefenstahl left Vassar and went back to Germany. During a physics conference at the Black Sea resort of Batumi, Riefenstahl and Houtermans were married in August 1930, with Wolfgang Pauli and Rudolf Peierls as witnesses to the ceremony. (Three other references cite the year as being 1931.) After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Charlotte Houtermans insisted that they leave Germany. They went to Great Britain, near Cambridge. Max von Laue was the last to send them off, as he entrusted Charlotte with messages for friends abroad. In 1935, Charlotte and Fritz left England for the Soviet Union, as Fritz accepted a job in Khar’kov. In 1937, he was arrested by the NKVD and imprisoned. Charlotte managed to escape to Denmark and eventually went back to England and then on to the United States.

From 1940 she taught at Wellesley College.

Charlotte was the first and third wife to Fritz Houtermans in four marriages. They were divorced in 1943, due to a new law in Germany and enforced wartime separation. They were again married in August 1953, with Pauli again standing as a witness; the marriage ended after only a few months. They had two children during their first marriage, Giovanna and Jan.



  • Wentzel, Gregor, translated by Charlotte Houtermans and J. M. Jauch, with an Appendix by J. M. Jauch Quantum Theory of Fields (Interscience, 1949) (Dover, 2003)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 17 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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