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last change 2008 April 10, R. Arlt

Dr. Rudolf Tschäpe gives name to square in front of Erlöserkirche in Potsdam-West

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


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Dr. Rudolf Tschäpe (1943 - 2002).

The bridge Glienicker Brücke with "Nike 89" on the right side in 2003.

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