Eugen Müller

*21.6.1905   †26.7.1976

in Tübingen 1957-1975



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taken from: G. Häfelinger, Eu J. Org. Chem. 2008, 3731-3746.


Eugen Friedrich Wilhelm Müller was born on June 21, 1905 in Merken near Düren in Rhineland as the son of the (later independent) paper merchant Friedrich Müller and wife Claire Müller, née Freiberg. Eugen Müller grew up in Berlin, where, aged 18, he completed his schooling at the Falk Realgymnasium in 1923.  From Easter 1923 to Easter 1925 he studied chemistry at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin along with the subjects physics, technology, and philosophy, for which he completed the first collective examination with Willy Marckwald. In the summer semester of 1925, he moved to the Albert Ludwig University at Freiburg in Breisgau, but then returned to Berlin for the winter semester of 1925. There, in December 1925, Eugen Müller completed exams in chemistry with Hofrat (“court councillor”) Wilhelm Schlenk, and in physical chemistry in March 1926 the second collective exam aged 21 (which would now correspond to a German “Diplom”). Between the summer semesters of 1926 and 1927 he completed his dissertation[1] in Berlin with Wilhelm Schlenk with the title “Über neue alkaliorganische Verbindungen” (On New Alkaliorganic Compounds).  After completing his PhD, Eugen Müller remained at the Chemical Institute of the Berlin university from 1928 to 1929, first as an assistant and then as a scholar of the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft (later named Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG; German Scientific Support Society).  From 1929 to 1933, Eugen Müller worked at the Technical University in Gdansk/Danzig as a lecturer’s assistant to Alfred Wohl. On his way to scientific independence, Eugen Müller showed the cis–trans isomerisation of azoxy compounds by UV and dipole-moment measurements after preparative separation.[3] This work led to his “Habilitation” in Danzig on March 3, 1933 aged 28, with a subsequent appointment as senior assistant to Adolf Butenandt.  From 1937 to 1941, Eugen Müller was active at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, initially as senior assistant, and then from 1939 as deputy head of department in organic chemistry. The continuation of the magnetochemical investigations resulted in a series of 24 communications. In 1941 he received a chair in organic chemistry at the University of Frankfurt/Main and was made scientific director of the newly instigated German Research Institute for Polymer Chemistry. This institute was however destroyed by a bombing raid in 1944 a few weeks after it was opened, as was the Institute for Organic Chemistry and the family’s house in the same year. He held his chair until after the end of the war in 1945, when he was dismissed as a consequence of Article 52 of the Allied Military Law, as he had been a member of the Nazi party since 1935.  In 1949, Eugen Müller was asked by Otto Bayer and Hans Meerwein to become Chief Editor of the Chemiker- Zeitung (Chem.-Ztg.) and in 1950 the Editor in Charge for the newly conceived fourth edition of the Houben–Weyl Handbook “Methods of Organic Chemistry”. In 1949, he turned down offers of chairs in organic chemistry at the universities of Leipzig and Jena, but accepted a position as guest professor at the Technical University of Stuttgart in 1950–1951. On February 2, 1952 he took up a chair in the Chemical Technology of Synthetic Fibres at the University of Tübingen, a position which was later renamed Applied Chemistry.  In 1957, Eugen Müller was appointed successor to Georg Wittig as the director of the chemical institute of the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen. After becoming an emeritus professor in 1973, he continued for a further two years until his successor Michael Hanack arrived in 1975. A sudden heart attack on July 26, 1976 unexpectedly ended the active working life of Eugen Müller.


Eugen Müller 1969 at his office at the lab building Wilhelmstrasse