Family, childhood, youth

   

  The siblings Adalbert, Max, Hildegard, and Hermann, about 1862.

  Karl Ernst Ludwig Max Planck was born in Kiel on 23 April 1858. His parents were the professor of jurisprudence Johann Julius Wilhelm von Planck (1817-1900) and his second wife Emma née Patzig (1821-1914). The family tree boasts respected scholars, pastors, and lawyers-an uncle of Max Planck, for example, Gottlieb Planck (1824-1910), was one of the draughters of the German Civil Code.

In 1867 his father received a call to the University of Munich, so throughout his formative years Max was able to benefit from the intellectual stimulus that the Bavarian capital had to offer. The arts and intellectual life of Munich were not the only important influences. Family excursions into Upper Bavaria and long walks through the Alps left their mark on Planck's later life as well.

At school, Max Planck stood out as a gifted and diligent pupil with a strong sense of duty. The young Planck showed no particular propensity for mathematics or science. His strengths rather seemed to lie in the areas of music and philology; he received the school prize in catechism and comportment almost every year. In the summer of 1874 he passed his school leaving examination at the Maximilians Gymnasium with outstanding marks. The multiply gifted young man hesitated long in choosing his major. Finally, he chose to study physics.

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  "Justifiably favored by teachers and classmates alike ... and despite his childish ways, a very clear, logical mind. Shows great promise."
School report for the year 1872.


The parents Emma and Johann Julius Wilhelm von Planck.