Heinrich Biltz

26th May 1865 to 29th October 1943

Heinrich Biltz, signature, Universty of Breslau, 1930-1931

In his early years as an academic, chemist Heinrich Biltz studied at the universities of Berlin and Göttingen. In 1888 he was awarded his doctorate in natural science (under the supervision of Viktor Meyer) on the molecular weight of substances at high temperatures. From 1891 he was a professor at the University of Greifswald and then Chair of inorganic chemistry at Kiel.

From 1911 until retirement, Biltz worked at the University of Breslau – his main research being carried out on chemical reactions of organic substances. There was a break in his research and teaching during the First World War, when Biltz served as a reserve officer.

On returning to Breslau, Biltz was director and Chair of the Chemische Gesellschaft Breslau (the renowned Chemistry Institute). He is listed as still teaching at Breslau in the 1932/1933 and 1935/1936 university handbooks. In 1933, as a member of the Civil Service, Biltz would have taken the Oath of Loyalty to the National Socialist government and its chancellor. I have not been able to find out when he left the university; he died in 1943.

The chemistry institute at Breslau, for which Biltz was only the second director, was founded in 1900 by Albert Ladenburg, a German Jewish chemist. When the expulsions of Jews from universities began in 1933, Albert’s son, Rudolf, was principal coordinator placing exiled physicists in posts in the USA.

Dr Heinrich Biltz, Director of the institute of chemistry, University of Breslau, 1930 to 1931

The handbook for the University of Breslau, 1930 to 1931, indicates that the Institute of Chemistry was located at 1, Burgstrasse; the telephone number was 26380. It was part of the Institute of Science and Medicine, as can be seen in the extract below, which again verifies that Biltz was the director.

Heinrich Biltz, Director of the Chemistry Institute, University of Breslau, 1930-1931

The handbook also states that Biltz was one of the examiners for chemistry, and on the Committee for the preliminary examination of food chemists.

Biltz taught a range of classes and lectures in the academic year 1930-1931, as can be seen in the extract below. These included five hours of organic experimental chemistry; a chemistry internship in the organic department of the chemical institute, for a full-day, private studies; a chemistry internship in the inorganic department of the chemical institute, together with Professor Dr J Meyer, a) a full day, b) only for beginners and for qualitative analysis, a half day, Monday to Friday, private studies.

He also taught a chemistry internship for medicine, jointly with Professor Dr Arndt, on Sundays from 9.30am to 1.30pm, private studies. Finally, he also gave advanced chemistry lectures, jointly with Professor Dr J. Meyer, Professor Dr Herz, Professor Dr Arndt, Professor Dr Koenigs, and Dr Slotta, on the second and fourth of each month, from 5.45pm to 7.15pm.

Heinrich Biltz, classes and lectures, University of Breslau, 1930 to 1931

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', and the equivalent handbook for 1935-1936, available online at the University of Wrocław.