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Peter Adolf Thiessen
Peter Adolf Thiessen (6 April 1899 – 5 March 1990) was a German physical chemist. He voluntarily went to the Soviet Union at the close of World War II, and he received high Soviet decorations and the Stalin Prize for contributions to the Soviet atomic bomb project.
Additional recommended knowledge
Thiessen was born in Schweidnitz (modern Świdnica, Poland).
From 1919 to 1923, he attended Breslau University, the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, the University of Greifswald, and the Georg-August University of Göttingen. He received his doctorate in 1923 under Richard Adolf Zsigmondy at Göttingen.
In 1923, Thiessen was a supernumerary assistant at the University of Göttingen and from 1924 to 1930 was a regular teaching assistant. He joined the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (Nazi Party) in 1925. He became a Privatdozent at Göttingen in 1926. In 1930, he became head of the department of inorganic chemistry there, and in 1932 he also became an untenured extraordinarius professor.
In 1933, Thiessen became a department head at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie (KWIPC) of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft (KWG). For a short time in 1935, he became an ordinarius professor of chemistry at the University of Münster. Later, that year and until 1945, he became an ordinarius professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin and director of the KWIPC in Belin-Dahlem. As director of the KWIPC, he transformed it into a model National Socialist organization.
Thiessen was the main advisor and confidant to Rudolf Mentzel, who was head of the chemistry and organic materials section of the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council). Thiessen, as director of the KWIPC, had a flat on Faradayweg in Dahlem that the former director Fritz Haber used for business purposes; Thiessen shared this flat with Metzel.
In the Soviet Union
Before the end of World War II, Thiessen had Communist contacts. He, Manfred von Ardenne, director of his private laboratory Forschungslaboratoriums für Elektronenphysik, Gustav Hertz, Nobel Laureate and director of the second research laboratory at Siemens, and Max Volmer, ordinarius professor and director of the Physical Chemistry Institute at the Berlin Technische Hochschule, had made a pact. The pact was a pledge that whoever first made contact with the Russians would speak for the rest. The objectives of their pact were threefold: (1) prevent plunder of their institutes, (2) continue their work with minimal interruption, and (3) protect themselves from prosecution for any political acts of the past. On 27 April 1945, Thiessen arrived at von Ardenne’s institute in an armored vehicle with a major of the Soviet Army, who was also a leading Soviet chemist. All four were taken to the Soviet Union. Von Ardenne was made head of Institute A, near Sukhumi. Hertz was made head of Institute G, also near Sukumi. Volmer went to the Scientific Research Institute No. 9 (NII-9), in Moscow; he was given a design bureau to work on the production of heavy water. In Institute A, Thiessen became leader for developing techniques for manufacturing porous barriers for isotope separation.
In 1949, six German scientists, including Hertz, Thiessen, and Barwich, were called in for consultation at Sverdlovsk-44, which was responsible for uranium enrichment. The plant, which was smaller than the American Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion plant, was getting only a little over half of the expected 90% or higher enrichment.
Awards for uranium enrichment technologies were made in 1951 after testing of a bomb with uranium; the first test was with plutonium. Thiessen received a Stalin Prize, first class.
Return to Germany
Thiessen returned to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR, German Democratic Republic) in the mid-1950s as a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences, and from 1957 to 1965, he was chairman of the Forschungsrates der DDR (Research Council of the German Democratic Republic). 
He died in Berlin in 1990.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Peter_Adolf_Thiessen". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|