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Rolf Landshoff

Rolf Landshoff (1911-1999) was a German-American physicist.

Soon after receiving a Ph.D. in engineering from the Institute of Technology in his native Berlin, Landshoff began to feel nervous about his place in his home country. Like many other German Jews, he was troubled by Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Unlike most other German Jews, Landshoff’s ability as a world-class physicist made it easier for him to leave the country. He secured a student visa to come to the United States with the help of a letter of recommendation from Albert Einstein.

Not long after arriving in the United States, Landshoff received another Ph.D, this one in physics, from the University of Minnesota. He continued to build his reputation as a physicist until he received full American citizenship in 1944. Soon after, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner recruited him to join the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. Landshoff would remain there through the end of the war.

After the war, Teller, who had been Landshoff’s group leader at Los Alamos, secured him a professorship at Catholic University in Washington, DC. However Landshoff contracted Polio, and instead remained in Los Alamos contributing to the development of thermonuclear weapons. He stayed at Los Alamos until 1956, when he took a position in California with Lockheed.

He was an advocate of American nuclear hegemony throughout his life, stating that, “The power we have has kept peace with our major adversary.”

Rolf Landshoff's Timeline

  • 1911 Nov 30th Born in Berlin, Germany.
  • 1936 Arrived in the United States via a student visa recommended by Albert Einstein.
  • 1936 Received a Ph.D. in Engineering from the Institute of Technology in Berlin.

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