Rudolf Freiherr von Hirsch

Biography of Rudolf Freiherr von Hirsch

Rudolf von Hirsch, matriculation slip 1906-07
Rudolf von Hirsch, matriculation slip 1906-07

Rudolf Freiherr von Hirsch came to the University of Glasgow for one year in 1907, aged 31. His application to access the Physical Chemistry department in order to conduct research on “the nature of a specific gas generated under the action of cathode rays” was granted at a meeting of the Faculty of Science on 19 March 1907 by Professors Andrew Gray, William Jack and Noel Paton. At that time Frederick Soddy was Lecturer in Physical Chemistry.

Von Hirsch was a descendant of the German-Jewish noble family that resided in Planegg, a town near Munich. He attained his doctoral degree in Munich in 1899, conducting research in Munich, Berlin, and Glasgow.

During the First World War, von Hirsch fought in the German Army from 1916 to 1918, and was honoured for his military service when he left the army in 1919.

In 1938, during the Crystal Night, an arson attack was carried out on his estate in Planegg, and the following morning, Rudolf and his brother Karl were deported to ghetto Theresienstadt. At Theresienstadt, von Hirsch became a prominent figure in the cultural and educational life of the ghetto, where he gave lectures in the natural sciences, conducted research in chemistry and worked at the ghetto’s own library.

After the war, he campaigned for the social welfare of his community. He became an honorary citizen of Gräfelfing and Planegg, and received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1953.

He died in 1975, aged 100 in Planegg.


Rudolf Freiherr von Hirsch
Born 7 November 1875.
Died 25 May 1975.
University Link: Researcher
GU Degree: Science and Engineering, 1906-07;
Occupation categories: chemists; military; scientists
Record last updated: 2nd Aug 2013

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  • Researcher

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