Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Adolf Butenandt

24 March 1903 in Bremerhaven – 18 January 1995 in Munich

Adolf Butenandt studied chemistry, physics and biology in Marburg and Göttingen. After holding a professorship in organic chemistry at the Technical University in Danzig (1933-36) and acting as a visiting researcher at the Rockefeller Foundation in the U.S.A., he became head of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for bio-chemistry in 1936, a position he held until 1972. He joined the Nazi Party in 1936. He was awarded the title of honorary professor and lectured at the Berlin University from 1938 to 1944. In 1939, he received the Noble Prize in Chemistry for his work on sexual hormones (together with Leopold Ružička).

In collaboration with Otmar von Verschuer, he was involved in racial research, although there is no proof as yet that he committed Nazi medical crimes. Nonetheless, it is obvious that Butenandt had become disengaged from the fundamental political and ethical responsibility of science.