Max Reinharz (1923-2012)

Max Reinharz was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1923. In 1939 he was obliged to emigrate to the UK. At the beginning of the Second World War he was interned as an enemy alien and then deported to Australia at a time when the British feared an invasion by Germany. He returned to the UK in 1943 and joined the British Army. After he was demobbed in 1947, he studied physics in Vienna, where he took his doctorate in 1953.


Max Reinharz (centre) with Gordon Munday (left) and Henri Laporte (right) in 1979.

After working in Brussels, at the physics Institute of Genoa and the University of Pisa, he joined CERN in 1960 as a fellow and in 1964 became a senior physicist in the NP Division. His name is associated with many publications, such as those of the CERN neutrino experiment and the CERN-Geneva-Lund collaboration to verify T symmetry conservation in lambda decays.

He then joined a small team in the Proton Synchrotron Division (MPS) responsible for assisting external physics groups to prepare and install their experiments. At that time, the synchrotron operated with internal targets. The secondary particles emitted had to be selected and guided in beams adapted to the experiments prepared by physicists from other institutes. It was this team’s task to calculate, build and adjust these beams.

In 1976 he joined Giorgio Brianti’s group which was responsible for creating and subsequently operating the SPS’s experimental areas, where inter alia he successfully introduced the use of tertiary beams. At the SPS he also took part in several important experiments, including in the measurement of particles produced by 400 GeV protons on a beryllium target (NA20).

But Max’s interests were not limited to particle physics. He was imbued with a profound sense of justice. He took part in Staff Association activities and served a term as the Association's President between 1977 and 1978. Not only did he defend the interests of his colleagues but he also maintained a positive and constructive dialogue with the Management while preserving staff unity at a time when some staff members saw the relations with the Management in terms of class struggle. He pursued his commitment to human rights in the framework of the Yury Orlov Committee set up to campaign for the liberation of his Russian colleague, who had helped to found and had chaired the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, the committee set up to monitor implementation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords, and who had been unjustly imprisoned.

His post brought him into direct contact with physicists coming to CERN to carry out their experiments and he played a key role in CERN's efforts to reconstruct European science and to re-establish the links between Europeans, which had been interrupted by the war. However these activities soon went beyond the limits of the Member States to include Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In particular, he contributed to establishing relations with China when, after the death of Mao, that country was beginning to modernise and open up to the world.

These activities were not limited to straightforward official contacts: his capacity for human contacts allowed him to establish warm close personal relationships.
After his retirement at the end of 1988, he continued to maintain and develop contacts with his many friends at CERN and throughout the world. Although his friends might not always have agreed with all his views, they appreciated and admired the pertinence of his analyses, his rectitude, his untiring efforts to create a better world and above all his rich gift for friendship.

His friends and former colleagues at CERN