Wall of Honor Location:
Foil: 63 Panel: 1 Column: 2 Line: 24
Wall of Honor Level:
Air and Space Friend
Professor George Leitmann was born on May 24, 1925 in Vienna, Austria. He, his mother Stella and his two grandmothers fled Nazi terror via Italy to the United States in 1940 and settled in Queens, New York. Meanwhile, his father Josef escaped to Yugoslavia but was caught and perished in a concentration camp in Serbia. After graduating with honors from Newton High School in December 1943, he enlisted in the US Army and was sent to the European theater in 1944.
During the war, he served in the reconnaissance unit of the 286th Combat Engineer Battalion which, during the Battle of the Colmar Pocket in the winter of 1944/45, was attached to the First French Army. For a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines, France awarded him the Croix de Guerre. During the campaign in Germany, his unit participated in the liberation of the Landsberg concentration camp near Munich. After the end of the war, he became the youngest special agent of the US Armys Counterintelligence Corps which included service as an interrogator at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials.
After discharge from the US Army in May 1946, George enrolled in Columbia University where he received a bachelors degree in 1949 and a masters in 1950, both in physics. From 1950-57, Dr. Leitmann worked as a rocket scientist at the Naval Ordnance Test Station in China Lake, California where he met and married his wife Nancy. During that period, he also obtained a PhD in engineering science from U.C. Berkeley in 1956. He was then invited to join the engineering faculty at Cal in 1957.
Dr. Leitmann had a distinguished career as Professor of Engineering Science at UC Berkeley, specializing in optimal control and dynamic game theory where he is considered to be a leading authority in their applications. These include economics, planning, environmental management, uncertain systems, mechanical systems, operations research, and biological systems. He was internationally honored, including the Order of Merit from Germany and Italy, the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, and a knighthood of the French Legion of Honor which also recognized his military service. George received honorary doctorates from the Technical University of Vienna, the University of Paris and the Technical University of Darmstadt.
Beyond his academic contributions, Dr. Leitmann was a benefactor to numerous charities, a collector of fine art (19th century American, modern and pre-Colombian), chairman of the board of the ARTSHIP Foundation in San Francisco, connoisseur of wines, and a swimmer.