Fritz Reiche

4th July 1883 to 14 January 1969

Fritz Reiche, signature, University of Breslau, Summer 1932

Fritz Reiche was a student of Max Planck – receiving his PhD under his supervision in 1907 – and a colleague of Albert Einstein. He made significant contributions to the development of quantum physics.

In 1921 he gained a professorship in experimental physics at Breslau, where he carried out research into radiation, the theory of diffraction, and the quantum theory of the helium atom, among other topics. Today, he is perhaps best known for the Thomas-Reiche-Kuhn (TRK) sum rule (1925).

In the 1930-1931 handbook of the University of Breslau, there are a number of entries for Reiche – the first of which can be seen below, where he is listed as being on the honorary commission.

Fritz Reiche, University of Breslau handbook, 1930-1931

The next item listed is the address at which Reiche taught theoretical physics, which was 13, Kaiser Wilhelm Straße 77, telephone 31894.

Kaiser Wilhelm Straße, Breslau, 1931 Source: fotopolska online

In this academic year Reiche also taught a seminar in quantum mechanics (at a time to be decided) (see image below).

Fritz Reiche, University of Breslau, Physics, 1930-1931

Reiche also gave classes in Theories of electricity and magnetism, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 12pm to 1pm, and taught Exercises in theories of electricity and magnetism, on Wednesdays from 12pm to 1pm.

Fritz Reiche, University of Breslau, Physics, 1930-1931

Reiche is also listed in the 1930-1931 handbook as a scientific examinations officer, and finally, as offering a seminar in theoretical physics, at Parkstraße 16, as follows:

Profesor Dr Fritz Reiche, University of Breslau, department of physics, 1930-1931
Parkstraße, Breslau, 1931 Source: fotopolska online

In 1933 under the Law for the Restoration of the Career Civil Service, Reiche was dismissed from the University of Breslau. With the help of Einstein and other colleagues, as well as from the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars (1933 to 1941), he was finally able to emigrate to the USA with his family in 1941.

He continued his research and teaching at Union College, NY, and at New York University, from where he retired from teaching in 1958.


For interested researchers, the Leo Back Institute, New York, holds the papers of Fritz Reiche: ‘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’.


All black and white extracts on this page are from the 'Vorlesungs und Personal Verzeichnis der Schlesischen Friedrich Wilhelms Universität zu Breslau Winter Semester 1930/1931', available online from the University of Wrocław. Maps are sourced from the excellent fotopolska.eu online.