Legendary Members: Geheimrat Dr. Waldemar Friedrich Johannes von Böttinger

By Edward Werner Cook. From The Retort, Jan 2012.

Not a long-time Member, nor even a chemist, he was amongst the most unusual of members in a Club given to very extraordinary personae. He was, in fact, a banker whose best fortunes were his remarkable parents. He was born in Elberfeld, the third and youngest son of Henry Theodor Böttinger (* 10 July 1848 in Burtonupon- Trent, England; † 9 June 1920 in Charlottenburg) and Adele Bayer, herself, daughter of Frederick Bayer, whose name is legendary. Henry was born in England’s famous brewing city, Burton-on-Trent, because his father was a chemist at Messrs. Allsopp Brewery, where Peter Griess developed the diazotization reaction to test for nitrites and later used for diazo dye syntheses. Griess had been a student of August Wilhelm von Hofmann at the Royal College of Chemistry in London. The Brewery now, sadly, is but stale beer.

Henry is credited with major influence in creating Bayer into the major international corporation of today and was awarded a Peerage in 1907, sitting thereafter in the House of Lords of the Preußen Parliament.

Waldemar was not as fortunate as his father as he was, briefly, partner with Baron Eduard von der Heydt in an adventurous Foreign Bank in London in 1913 and which His Britannic Majesty’s Government later confiscated in 1918 without payment.

But, why his interest in joining The Chemists’ Club? Perhaps his Grandfather’s Bayer Aspirin plant in Rensselaer… but, that’s another tale.