September 1, 1914–December 15, 2002
BY STANLEY GEMBICKI
VLADIMIR (“VAL”) HAENSEL WAS born to Nina Von Tugenhold and Paul Haensel (Pavel Petrovich Genzel) on September 1, 1914 (one month after the outbreak of World War I) in Freiburg, Germany. He spent much of his youth in Moscow, where his father was a respected professor of economics from 1903 to 1928. Shocked by the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution, his family fled Moscow, but was captured and returned to meet an uncertain fate. Officially rehabilitated, his father resumed his professorship and was made director of the financial section of the Institute of Economic Research in Moscow from 1921 to 1928; there he authored Lenin’s first five-year plan. After escaping the U.S.S.R. in 1928, the Haensel family lived briefly in Germany, France, and Austria. They came to the United States in 1930 when Haensel’s father accepted a teaching position at Northwestern University.
Haensel entered Northwestern University in 1931 and received a bachelor of science degree in general engineering in 1935. He received his master’s degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1937.
Haensel joined the Universal Oil Products Company in 1937 as a research chemist. From 1939 to 1946, while still