Hans F. Zacher
Former Vice president
Genetics & Molecular Biology
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
United States of America
Hans Zacher was born in Erlach am Inn, Lower Bavaria, in 1928, the son of a village schoolteacher. "The village we lived in was small and impoverished," he says. Yet his house was a little treasure trove full of books. Very austere conditions but an appreciation of education and culture: "a wonderful foundation upon which to grow". The nearest "little town with any sign of an urban culture" lay on the opposite bank of the Inn, in Austria: Braunau. The nearest city was Passau, 60 kilometres away. "My early childhood had nothing to do with law," he would later write in an autobiographical draft. "Social norms, religious standards, customs and constraints" – but not law. That all changed when Hitler came to power. There was an increase in the number of laws which changed people's lives. And in the despotism of the party. His family now underwent a painful "loss of rights, loss of protection": "as party coercion was permitted to undermine freedom and privacy, as people time and again found no protection against being insulted, threatened, robbed and beaten by exponents of the party". Today, Hans F. Zacher relates: "It wasn't long before my parents had only a small group of friends with whom they could talk openly. I remember them all with gratitude. They were important to us for surviving the madness of the times."
Molecular Biology, Neurobiology