Rudolf Tschäpe joined the Zentralinstitut für Astrophysik in Potsdam
after he had studied physics at Jena University and a short stay at
Sonneberg Observatory. He mainly devoted his research to theoretical
investigations of the origin of
supernovae and accretion disks. He defended his PhD thesis on the
computation of the gravitational potential of non-spherical mass
distribution in 1987. He then contributed to the investigation of
gravitational instability in disks and the correlation of lithium
abundance with stellar rotation period in young stellar clusters.
Finally he and his colleagues at Sonneberg followed long stellar
activity cycles on photographic plates in the observatory
archive covering a period of more than 60 years.
Besides his research, he initiated and organised numerous projects
of arts meeting science at the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam.
The institute got a reputation for its cultural diversity. The
exhibition of sculptures by Wieland Förster, who later became
Vice-President of the Academy of Arts, in the dome of the Great
Refractor on Telegraphenberg in 1974 brought members of both Academies closer
together than at any other time. The permanent display of the
spectacular sculpture "Große Neeberger Figur" was prevented by the
management after the exhibition on Telegrafenberg. In 1999, the
assosication "Lindenstraße 54" and its founding member Rudolf Tschäpe
erected Förster's sculpture "Nike 89" on the Potsdam side of the
Glienicke Bridge. The sculpture was bearing the same spirit as the
exhibition at the Great Refractor.
Rudolf Tschäpe has been under continuous observation due to his
political activities in the GDR. He nevertheless succeeded together
with his colleague from the Institute, Reinhard Meinel, in mapping
out and signing the founding document "Die Zeit ist reif" of the
political association "Neues Forum" in Grünheide near Berlin on
September 9, 1989. Both scientists have contributed significantly to
the political development in Potsdam until the elections in 1990.
Rudolf Tschäpe was a member of the first democratically elected city
council. He received the high award "Verdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik
Deutschland" on October 8, 1995, together with fellow oppositionists
such as Bärbel Bohley and Marianne Birthler for their democratic
activities in Eastern Germany. Dr. Rudolf Tschäpe, Prof. Jens Reich
(who was proposed unsucessfully for the presidency of the Academy of
Sciences by the Zentralinstitut für Astrophysik) and others were awarded with the
National Award for their activities in founding "Neues Forum". Rudolf
Tschäpe passed away after a long time of illness on April 14, 2002, at
the age of 58, just before the completion of his new house in Ferch.
Prof. Günther Rüdiger
Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam
An der Sternwarte 16
(0331) 7499 512
[Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam]
Dr. Rudolf Tschäpe (1943 - 2002).
The bridge Glienicker Brücke with "Nike 89" on the right side in 2003.