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#161 – Chaim Weizmann

#161 – Chaim Weizmann published on No Comments on #161 – Chaim Weizmann

In 1910, Chaim Weizmann became a British citizen when Winston Churchill as Home Secretary signed his papers, and held his British nationality until 1948, when he renounced it to assume his position as President of Israel.1 In Britain, he was known as Charles Weizmann, a name under which he registered 100 research patents. 2 At the end of World War II, it was discovered that the SS had compiled a list in 1940 of over 2.8k people living in Britain, which included Weizmann, who were to have been immediately arrested after an invasion of Britain had the ultimately abandoned Operation Sea Lion been successful. 41940: The Nazi Invasion Plan for Britain, p. 260.

Weizmann devoted himself to the establishment of a scientific institute for basic research in the vicinity of his estate in the town of Rehovot. Weizmann saw great promise in science as means to bring peace and prosperity to the area. As stated in his own words: “I trust and feel sure that in my heart that science will bring to this land both peace and a renewal of its youth, creating here the springs of a new spiritual and material life… I speak of both science for its own sake and science as a means to an end.”5 His efforts led in 1934 to the creation of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute, which was financially supported by an endowment by Israel Sieff in memory of his late son.6

Weizmann was also absent from the first Zionist conference, held in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, because of travel problems, but he attended the Second Zionist Congress in 1898 and each one thereafter. Beginning in 1901, he lobbied for the founding of a Jewish Institution of higher learning in Palestine. Together with Martin Buber and Berthold Feiwel, he presented a document to the Fifth Zionist Congress highlighting this need specifically in the fields of science and engineering. This idea would later be crystallized in the foundation of Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1912.7TECHNION: The Story of Israel’s Institute of Technology