28.06.

1912: The Weizsäcker Family – Between Nazism and the Nuclear Bomb

1912: The Weizsäcker Family – Between Nazism and the Nuclear Bomb
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 28 June 1912
  • Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker was the Third Reich ambassador to the Holy See in the Vatican during World War II. One of his sons - Baron Richard von Weizsäcker - became the post-war German president (Bundespräsident), and his other son - Baron Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker - was a respected scientist who worked on the German nuclear project for the Third Reich.

On this day German scientist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, a member of the famous family that produced a series of prominent German politicians and scientists, was born.

The Weizsäcker family has held the title of baron since 1916. According to German custom, the title of baron automatically goes to all the descendants of the man who was elevated (unlike in the UK, where only the eldest son inherits the title, and only after his father’s death).

Therefore, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker automatically became Baron von Weizsäcker when his grandfather was awarded the title.

The younger brother of Carl Friedrich – Richard von Weizsäcker – was the German president from 1984 till 1994 and also became a baron. The two of them – scientist and president – were the sons of Ernst von Weizsäcker, an important politician in the era of Adolf Hitler.

Specifically, Ernst von Weizsäcker was the Third Reich ambassador to the Holy See in the Vatican during World War II. He was also Secretary of State (Staatssekretär) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Third Reich. Holding this position, he was actually the second person of that ministry, immediately after Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop.

It is interesting that he also had the honorary rank of Brigadeführer in the SS, which corresponds to the rank of Major General in the Wehrmacht.

Scientist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker had, like his father, a great role during the Third Reich. In fact, he was a member of the team of scientists who conducted nuclear research in Germany during World War II. Of course, one of the goals of these studies was the development of the German atomic bomb.

After the war, Baron Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker lectured philosophy at the university for several years, and approaching the end of his life he became a Christian pacifist.

He particularly opposed nuclear weapons. He died at the advanced age of 94 years in socking in Bavaria (not far from the Pöcking, where the famous Archduke Otto of Habsburg also died).

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