Hans-Peter Dürr

This article is for the German physicist. For the German anthropologist see Hans Peter Duerr.
Hans-Peter Dürr in December 2007

Hans-Peter Dürr (7 October 1929 – 18 May 2014) was a German physicist. In addition to nuclear and quantum physics, elementary particles and gravitation, epistemology, and philosophy, he has advocated responsible scientific and energy policies.[1]


Born in Stuttgart, between 1978 and 1992 he was executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich for several times. He was Vice executive director at the Max Planck Institute for Physics (Werner-Heisenberg-Institute) 1972-1977, 1981–1986 and 1993-1995. Until 1997 he was professor of physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University, both in Munich, Germany.

Dürr completed his Ph.D. in 1956 after studying physics in Stuttgart (Dipl.-Phys. 1953) and at University of California in Berkeley, supervised by Edward Teller. In 1962 he was a guest-professor in Berkeley, California and Madras, India.

As "the" follower of Prof. Werner Heisenberg, he specializes in nuclear physics, quantum physics, elementary particles and gravitation, epistemology and philosophy. He was Heisenberg's closest ally in their attempts to develop a unified field theory of elementar particles. He also champions various social justice causes, and helped fund the "David against Goliath" organization protesting against a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Bavaria.

In the 1980s, Dürr advocated the cause of peace as a member of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1983, he helped co-fund the Scientists' Initiative "Responsibility for Peace", which led to the Scientists' Peace Congress in Mainz attended by 3,300 scientists and the Mainzer Appell, a declaration against further nuclear armament. In 1990, another large scientists' convention in Göttingen warned against the militarization of space. In support of these conventions, Dürr gave a series of lectures at numerous German universities. Dürr is a leading critic of the American Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), otherwise known as Star Wars.

In 1986 Dürr proposed a World Peace Initiative, on a similar scale to the Strategic Defence Initiative, to solve environmental problems, and achieve social justice and peace. This was later reborn as the Global Challenges Network, which received the Right Livelihood Award together with Dürr.[2]

More recently, Dürr has contributed to the global environmental movement. He served as a member of the board of Greenpeace Germany and as a member of the International Advisory Council on the Economic Development of Hainan in Harmony with the Natural Environment in China. In 1996, Dürr was made a member of the UN Secretary General's international advisory group for the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul.

Dürr was a member of the Club of Rome and served on the scientific committee of the Vienna Internationale Akademie für Zukunftsfragen, advocating sustainable, equitable, and viable development, emphasizing energy efficiency and sufficiency as a point of entry. He was founder members of German Vereinigung für Ökologische Ökonomie.[3]

In 2005, together with Daniel Dahm and Rudolf zur Lippe, he published the Potsdam Manifesto and the Potsdam Denkschrift as a follow-up to the Russell–Einstein Manifesto of 1955. They were signed by a large group of scientists from all over the world, including 20 laureates of the Right Livelihood Award.

From 2006 until his death, he was a founding councillor at the World Future Council.



Books (selection)


  1. Süddeutsche.de GmbH, Munich, Germany. "Nachruf auf Hans-Peter Dürr - Physik und Frieden - Wissen - Süddeutsche.de". Sueddeutsche.de. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  2. "Hans-Peter Dürr - BetterWorldHeroes.com - Biography". Betterworld.net. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  3. Hans-Peter Dürr, 7.10.1929 – 18.05.2014, voeoe.de, accessed February 25, 2015.
  4. "Hans-Peter Dürr (Germany)". Rightlivelihood.org. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  5. "Hans Peter Durr". The World Future Council. 2014-05-15. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
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