Willibald Jentschke 1911 - 2002
Mar 18, 2002
Willibald Jentschke, founder of the DESY research centre in Hamburg, died last week aged 90. Jentschke was director of the lab from its establishment in 1959 until 1970, and was also head of CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, for five years from 1971. Jentschke remained actively involved with DESY – which now employs 3400 scientists from 35 countries – and the University of Hamburg until his death.
In the mid-1950s, Jentschke took up a teaching post at the University of Hamburg. He became interested in setting up a research centre for particle physics, which was to become the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron or DESY. He became a director of experimental physics at the university and forged strong links between the two establishments, which led the university’s Institute of Laser Physics to move to the DESY site.
DESY established a tradition of studying fundamental particle physics and – at the same time – using the synchrotron radiation produced by particle accelerators for more applied research. In the late 1960s, Jentschke initiated plans for the DORIS electron-positron storage ring – also at DESY – which went into action in 1974.
“Without Willibald Jentschke, DESY would never have existed,” said Albrecht Wagner, chairman of the DESY board of directors. “His negotiating skills, tenacity and far-reaching decisions laid the foundations of DESY, and his team spirit still influences DESY’s leadership style.”