Who Was Werner Heisenberg ?

As a result of the recently increased public debate about the person and character of my father, stimulated by Michael Frayn's Tony Award winning Broadway play "Copenhagen", I decided to present some pertinent material that highlights his integrity and humanity. It may help anyone who is interested arrive at a better understanding of my father's thinking and actions, just as his own account in "Physics and Beyond" (Harper & Row 1971) [German title: "Der Teil und das Ganze"] and my mother's "Inner Exile - Recollections of a Life with Werner Heisenberg" (Birkhäuser 1984) have attempted. In making this other material available to an English speaking public, I am hoping to reach the curious and the skeptical reader alike. This web-site will be continuously expanded after its launch in December 2000.

Jochen Heisenberg. home-page

Last update June 19, 2014; addition of Sketch-book
Recently added: "Reality and its Order", translation by Martin.B.Rumscheidt and Nancy.Lukens of "Ordnung der Wirklichkeit"

Translations for this web-site are done by my wife, Irene Heisenberg, except if noted otherwise.
Also: Addendum to "Meine liebe Li"

New: On Dec. 7th, 2012 the "Heisenberg-Gesellschaft" (Heisenberg-Society) constituted itself
Check their home-page at: www.heisenberg-gesellschaft.de

Documents by Werner Heisenberg 

View from the Urfeld terrace over lake Walchen (Walchensee)

Werner Heisenberg in front of the Urfeld house
werner60.gif (863926 bytes)

1) 1942: Werner Heisenberg: Reality and its Order
Since the German edition is out of print, we have also included the full German text.

German Title: Ordnung der Wirklichkeit
In: Werner Heisenberg, Gesammelte Werke, Abteilung C, Piper Verlag, München ISBN 3-492-02925-6

2) Heisenberg's eldest daughter Anna Maria Hirsch recently finished transcribing his many letters to his wife, Elisabeth. These letters together with the letters of Elisabeth to Werner have been published rently in German:
"Meine liebe Li!" Der Briefwechsel 1937-1946
Residenz Verlag 2011 [review:]
Addendum: WH letters not included or truncated in this book
The book has not yet been translated, except for these excerpts here. However, an english translation is envisioned by Yale University Press.

1945: Werner Heisenberg: Letters from Hechingen and
Diary From the Last Three Weeks of WWII
Translation from the original German manuscript (unpublished)
German Originals

Letters from Farm Hall etc. [in German], [ in English]

Letters from 1939 USA-trip. [in German], [ in English]

3) 1946: Werner Heisenberg: Science as a Means of International Understanding

In: Philosophical Problens of Quantum Physics, Ox Bow Press, Woodbridge, Connecticut 1979, ISBN 0-918024-15-3

4) 1967: Werner Heisenberg: Interview in the Magazine "Der Spiegel"

See also: Werner Heisenberg, Gesammelte Werke, Band V, Piper; also: Werner Heisenberg, Deutsche und Jüdische Physik, Helmut Rechenberg Hrsg., Piper

Werner Heisenberg sweeping the floor at his Urfeld summer house.ca. 1960

Link to BBC web-site for an audio interview(1965) with Werner Heisenberg and C.F. von Weizsäcker relating to Copenhagen visit

Link to Niels Bohr Archive's Bohr letters.

5) Last letter from Werner Heisenberg to Niels Bohr before 1941 visit

(a)Transcription (b)Translation into English

6) Letter from Werner Heisenberg to his wife Elisabeth written during his 1941 visit in Copenhagen. This letter was first published and posted in its entirety on 6/5/2003.

(a)Facsimile of letter (b)Transcription (c)Translation into English

7) Two letters from Werner Heisenberg to Robert Jungk, author of "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns"

(a) Transcription (b)Translation into English

Anna Maria Hirsch
8) Recently published letters from Werner Heisenberg to his parents: "Liebe Eltern - Briefe aus kritischer Zeit", Langen-Müller Verlag, Anna-Maria Hirsch-Heisenberg Hgb., 2003.
[Sample letters:<German>,<translation>]
Letter from India:<translation>

Personal comments by Heisenberg's Children 

Elisabeth Heisenberg (1914-1998) and Wolfgang (1938-1994) at the Leipzig Symposium held in honor of Werner Heisenberg's (1901-1976) 90th birthday.
9) Wolfgang Heisenberg: Memories of My Father (1991)

German Title: Erinnerungen an meinen Vater

In: Geyer, Bodo u.a . (Hrsg.), Werner Heisenberg, Physiker und Philosoph, Spektrum Akademischer Verlag Heidelberg – Berlin – Oxford, 1993, ISBN 3 – 86025 – 033 - 7

10) 2002: Jochen Heisenberg: Frayn's 'Heisenberg': Fact or Fiction?

Talk presented at the March 2nd, 2002 Symposium of the Smithsonian Institution ,Washington DC, organized by Brian Schwartz.

11) 2002: Jochen Heisenberg: Remarks about my father

Remarks presented at the May 13th, 2002 Symposium at MIT, sponsored by the MIT Office of the Arts and the Goethe Institute Boston.

12) 2002: Martin Heisenberg: Op.Ed. Article in "Die Zeit"

13) 2002: Barbara Blum: Essay Heisenberg and Music

Other items possibly of interest 


15) Werner Heisenberg's Family-tree:

16) WH's University Records

17) WH's sketch-book view as pdf

UNDER CONSTRUCTION -- additional material to be added later.

If you have any questions or comments, we appreciate mail to iheisenberg@comcast.net or jhh@pauli.unh.edu