Karl Seiler

30th May 1910 to ?

Karl Selier, signature, University of Breslau, 1935

German physicist Karl Seiler studied at Stuttgart and Hannover. One of his supervisors at Hannover was Edwin Fues. After sitting the state examination for teaching at Hannover, he followed Fues to Breslau, where he read for his dissertation, ‘Zur atomaren Dispersion und Absorption von Röntgenstrahlen nach der relativistischen Wellenmechanik Diracs‘ (On atomic dispersion and absorption of X-rays according to the relativistic wave mechanics of Dirac).

Seiler is not in the earlier of the two handbooks I have been consulting for research into the university of Breslau during my father‘s years there, but he is in the handbook for 1935, as follows.

Karl Seiler, University of Breslau handbook, 1935

Given that Seiler was still teaching in the late 1930s, he would have taken the Oath of Loyalty to the National Socialist party around 1933. In 1937 Seiler joined the NSDAP – an anti-Semitic nationalist party.

Following his qualification to teach in German universities, Seiler’s research area was in chemical physics. In 1941, he was called up to the Eastern Front. Approximately two years later he was back in Germany, as head of a laboratory for high-frequency tubes and semiconductors in the development of detectors for centimeter waves in radar technology. The result was the development of detectors based on silicon with synthetically produced layers. From the end of 1943, these were used in aircraft and submarines as components of warning devices to detect enemy radar signals.

After the war Seiler found it difficult to gain employment because of his membership of the NSDAP, which was now listed as a criminal organisation, so he set up a small laboratory in a garage, making semiconductor components. By 1948 he had again joined forces with Fues – this time at Stuttgart Technical University – and they continued to work in a similar area of research until Seiler’s retirement in 1973.

All black and white extracts on this page are from the 'Vorlesungs und Personal Verzeichnis der Schlesischen Friedrich Wilhelms Universität zu Breslau, 1935-1936, available online at the University of Wrocław.