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International Journal of High-Energy Physics

Willibald Jentschke

Willibald Jentschke, founding father of Hamburg's DESY laboratory and CERN director-general from 1971 to 1975, celebrated his 90th birthday at DESY on 6 December 2001. Born in Vienna, he emigrated to the US in 1947, where he led the cyclotron group at the University of Illinois in Urbana. He returned to Europe in 1956 to head the physics institute of Hamburg University, with the goal of establishing a modern accelerator centre that would make high-energy physics in Germany internationally competitive. His efforts led to the foundation of DESY in 1959 with its 7.5 GeV electron synchrotron - the first German high-energy accelerator. As head of the DESY directorate from 1959 to 1970, Jentschke decisively shaped the future of the Hamburg lab, endorsing the risky electron-positron storage ring scheme for the DORIS accelerator and promoting the use of synchrotron radiation for research purposes. Jentschke's time as CERN director-general saw the construction of the SPS and the discovery of neutral currents. In 1976 he returned to Hamburg University, from which he retired in 1980.