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Friends from Germany: Edith and Fritz London

Hilde Bial-Neurath

The Bial-Neurath Family

In Durham, Hilde and Hans became friends with Edith and Fritz London. Fritz was a German physicist from Berlin who was expelled from the University of Berlin because of his Jewish descent. In 1933, the couple left Germany. Edith was a painter and collage artist who had studied art in Berlin and at the British Academy in Rome. Fritz received two visiting appointments for three years each, first at Oxford, then in Paris, which allowed Edith to continue her studies at Oxford and later in Paris under the French painters Marcel Gromaire and André Lhote.

Edith and Fritz in 1930 Edith and Fritz in the 1950s

In 1939 they moved to the United States where Fritz became professor at Duke. Edith and Fritz had two children, a son, Frank, born in 1939 and a daughter, Rose, born in 1944. Fritz London was a brilliant scientist, best known for the London-Heitler theory of bonding in chemistry, which together with his contributions to the theories of superconductivity and superfluidity should have, according to Hans, earned Fritz the Nobel Prize in either chemistry or physics. Unfortunately in 1954, he died at age 54. Since then the Fritz London Memorial Lectures have brought a distinguished group of lecturers, including twenty Nobel laureates, to the scientific community at Duke University.

   
 Edith London: Portrait of her son, 1943, oil on canvas  Edith London: Portrait of her husband, 1954, oil on canvas

There clearly was social interaction between the Neuraths and the Londons. I remember that we were over at the London’s house in Durham and I remember a daughter who was roughly my age. And I remember us playing together. I remember my mother commenting that they were friends. That they knew each other from Berlin although Edith had been older than my mother by some years. -Peter Neurath

Hilde Bial-Neurath

The Bial-Neurath Family

 

 

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