Max von Laue
1879 Pfaffendorf (Germany) – 1960 Berlin (Germany)
Physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics 1914
Max von Laue is a student of Max Planck and is regarded as being as argumentative as he is convivial, and is also a grey eminence on the German physics scene. He regularly invites guests to Harnack House. He is well connected with physicists worldwide and maintains contact, during the Third Reich, not just with colleagues who have emigrated – Albert Einstein in Princeton, Max Born in Edinburgh and Lise Meitner in Stockholm – but also with many Jewish scientists in Berlin. He frequently takes advantage of opportunities to display moral courage during the Nazi period and, according to Einstein, is one of the few people to "remain honest".
Laue’s main areas of research are radiation phenomena, the theory of relativity and superconductivity. In 1912, he succeeds – together with Walter Friedrich and Paul Knipping – in proving the diffraction of x-rays by crystals at Arnold Sommerfeld’s institute in Munich, for which he receives the Nobel Prize. After the Second World War, Laue plays a key role for the emergent Max Planck Society and also helps to establish, among other things, the Fritz Haber Institute.