Georg Bredig

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Georg Bredig

Georg Bredig (October 1, 1868, Glogau, Niederschlesien, Silesia Province – April 24, 1944, New York) was a German physical chemist.

Life and career[edit]

Education and catalysis research[edit]

Georg Bredig was son to Max Bredig who was a merchant in Glogau. The family was Jewish. In 1886, he began studying natural sciences at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg.[1] After only one term he moved to University of Berlin.[1] There he heard about Wilhelm Ostwald (Leipzig University) and his research about physical chemistry. Fascinated by this branch of research he decided to move to University of Leipzig in autumn 1889 where he learned from Ostwald and did his doctorate in 1894.[2] After working at the laboratory of J. H. van't Hoff in Amsterdam one year and thereafter in Paris with M. Berthelot and in Stockholm with S. Arrhenius he became assistant to W. Ostwald in autumn 1895.[3]

In 1898 Bredig discovered that it is possible to make colloidal solutions of metals usable as catalysts[4] and therefore can be called founder of catalytic research. With his work about the inorganic ferments how he called it according to biological enzymes he habilitated 1901 in Leipzig.[5]

Research at Heidelberg and Zurich[edit]

In 1901 Bredig married Rosa Fraenkel with whom he had two children, a son called Max Albert and a daughter called Marianne.[5] In the same year he was appointed as associate professor at University of Heidelberg where he was the first professor for physical chemistry. At Heidelberg Bredig was able to do research on his own behalf which led to great progress in catalytic research. He also did his best in teaching and attracted many young, talented scientists from all over the world.[6] In his time at Heidelberg Bredig was the first to selectively synthesize specific stereoisomer molecules. In 1910 Bredig was appointed as full professor at ETH Zurich.


Only one year later Bredig was appointed as professor for physical chemistry at the technical university of Karlsruhe following Max Le Blanc who became successor to Ostwald in Leipzig and Fritz Haber who became Headmaster of the newly founded Kaiser Wilhelm-Institute for physical chemistry in Berlin.[6] Initially Bredig got a lot of public recognition. But with World War I the work in Bredig's institute came to a halt.[7] Although he got the honorary doctor title from the university of Rostock the postwar-period was dominated by time-consuming teaching duties and extensive administrative work. Amongst others because he became Headmaster for the Term 1922/23.[7] In his inaugural speech Bredig revealed his political attitude which could be described as liberal-democratic, professed pacifism and demanded the “United States of Europe”. This attitude caught attention of national socialists and in the following Bredig had to suffer hostilities. Because of heavy disease he had to undergo surgery twice in 1924 and 1929/30 however he recovered quickly so he was able to return to his work soon.[5]

Persecution and exile[edit]

In 1933 Bredig's wife died[5] and in the same year the national socialists came into power ending his teaching and research activities.[8] Nevertheless, he stayed in Karlsruhe. His son Max Albert emigrated to United States in 1937. During the Novemberpogrome Georg Bredig and his son-in-law Dr. Viktor Homburger, husband of his daughter Marianne were arrested amongst 500 Jews in Karlsruhe. In 1939 Bredig was persuaded to leave Germany for the Netherlands by his daughter and son. With help from his long-time friend Professor Ernst Cohen he got the entry permit.[8] From the Netherlands he got to the USA in 1940 where he stayed with his son in New York City until he died on April 24, 1944.[8]


  • Handbuch der Angewandten Physikalischen Chemie. 1907.
  • Seinen Freunden zur Erinnerung, 1938 (Autobiography).
  • Denkmethoden der Chemie. 1923.
  • Arbeiten aus dem Chemischen Institut der Universität Heidelberg. 1907.


  • 1899 prize of the "Deutschen Elektrochemischen Gesellschaft"
  • 1914 prize of the "Institut Solvay" (Brüssel) for his work about catalysis
  • 1929 Honorary doctor of University Rostock
  • 1930 Honorary doctor of TH Zurich


  • Georg Bredig. Werner Kuhn, Chemische Berichte 95 (1962), S. XLVII–LXIII.
  • Pionier der Physikalischen Chemie. Prof. Dr. Georg Bredig. Valentin Wehefritz, 1998.
  • Lexikon der Naturwissenschaftler. 1. Edition. Heidelberg, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-8274-1026-6.
  • Bredig zum 60. Geburtstag. F. Haber, Zeitschrift für Elektrochemie und Angewandte Physikalische Chemie, Oktober 1928, p. 677-679.
  • 100 Jahre Institut für Physikalische Chemie an der Universität Karlsruhe. Ulrich Schindelwolf, Bunsen-Magazin 6/2000.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kuhn, Werner. Georg Bredig Chemische Berichte 95 (1962), p. XLVII
  2. ^ Bredig, Georg. Seinen Freunden zur Erinnerung, 1938, p. A2
  3. ^ Bredig, Georg. Seinen Freunden zur Erinnerung, 1938, p. A3
  4. ^ Bredig, Georg Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine. at (in English)
  5. ^ a b c d Kuhn, Werner. Georg Bredig Chemische Berichte 95 (1962), p. XLVIII
  6. ^ a b Bredig, Georg. Seinen Freunden zur Erinnerung, 1938, p. A4
  7. ^ a b Schindewolf. 100 Jahre Institut für Physikalische Chemie an der Universität Karlsruhe, Bunsen-Magazin 6/2000, p. 142
  8. ^ a b c Kuhn, Werner. Georg Bredig Chemische Berichte 95 (1962), p. IL