Willstätter, Richard

BORN 13 Aug 1872, Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg - DIED 3 Aug 1942, Muralto, Ticino
BIRTH NAME Wilstätter, Richard Martin
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Muralto, Ticino: Cimitero, Via Gian Gaspare Nessi

Richard Willstätter came from a Jewish family from Karlsruhe. He studied at the University of Munich, where he continued to work after obtaining his doctorate. His thesis was on the structure of cocaine. In 1902 he was appointed Professor extraordinarius. In 1905 he moved to Zürich and in 1912 he became Professor of Chemistry at the University of Berlin. He studied the pigments of fruits and flowers, living in the Dahlem area between other scientists. He received the Nobel Prize for his work in 1915.

In 1915 he was asked by Fritz Haber to work on the development of poison gasses. He refused, but agreed to work on protection against gasses instead. He was one of the developers of a gas absorbing filter of which millions were produced during the First World War. It earned him the Iron Cross Second Class.

In 1916 he returned to Munich where he studied enzyme reactions. Antisemitical sentiments in Munich caused him to retire abruptly in 1924. He refused another engagement and lived in Munich until he felt forced to emigrate to Switzerland in 1939. The last three years of his live he lived in Muralto where he wrote an autobiography. He died in 1942 of an heart attack.


The grave of Richard Willstätter at the cemetery of Muralto, Ticino.
Picture by Androom (17 Feb 2019)


• Fischer, Manfred F., Ruhmeshalle und Bavaria, Bayerische Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser, München, 1987
Richard Willstätter - Wikipedia

Wilson, William

Published: 21 May 2020
Last update: 30 May 2020