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The Papers of Egon Bretscher

Reference Code: GBR/0014/BRER

Scope and Contents

The papers comprise diaries, correspondence, notebooks, official reports, articles, lectures, press cuttings and photographs, 1918 - 1973. The collection also contains recordings of lectures given by Ernest Rutherford in Göttingen, 1931- 1938.


  • 1918 - 1973


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holder and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Egon Bretscher was born on 23 May 1901 in Zürich, the second son of Julius Bretscher and Anna Bretscher (née Martin).

He was educated at Gymnasium Zürich and Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zürich), where he gained his diploma in chemical engineering in 1925. He then studied at the department of chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, where he was taught by Sir James Walker and received his PhD in 1927. In 1931, he married Hanna Greminger, with whom he had three sons and two daughters. Egon Bretscher started his career as an Assistant and Privatdozent für Physik at the ETH Zürich, where he worked from 1929 to 1936. He became a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation and was based at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, 1934-5. Bretscher returned to Cambridge as a Clerk Maxwell Scholar, 1936-9, and lecturer in Nuclear Physics, 1949-44. Through his work on nuclear physics, he was involved in the British atomic bomb research project 'Tube Alloys' and became a member of the Maud Committee as well as of the British Mission to the Manhattan District Scientific Laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico. He worked at Los Alamos in Fermi’s Advanced Development Division, 1944-6. After the war, Bretscher returned to Britain and joined the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, as head of the Chemistry Division, 1947-8, and then as head of the Nuclear Physics Division, 1948-66. He retired in 1966.

Egon Bretscher was awarded a CBE in 1966. He died on 16 April 1973.


34 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A copy of the full catalogue is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre and on the National Archives website,

Former/other reference

CSAC 115.6.86 (Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Mrs Hanna Bretscher between 1984 and 1986 and by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, via the Public Record Office and the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre (later NCUACS) in 1984.


This collection level description was prepared by Julia Schmidt of Churchill Archives Centre, August 2017, using biographical information from Who's Who and an existing catalogue from the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, which was compiled by Jeannine Alton and Peter Harper in 1986.


Bretscher, Dr Egon, 1901-1973, nuclear physicist

2017-08-17 11:42:31+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087