IN MEMORIAM: TUM Honorary Senator and University Donor Gallus Rehm

“I am grateful to TUM by conviction”

TUM Alumni Gallus Rehm dedicated his life to the art of Civil Engineering with unabated curiosity and fascination. With his innovative ideas he has made a significant contribution to the reputation of his alma mater. In August 2020, Gallus Rehm passed away at the age of 95.

When Professor Dr. Gallus Rehm began studying Civil Engineering at TUM in 1947, most of its buildings were still war-damaged or in very poor condition. The technical equipment at the Institute for Concrete Structures was outdated or not even there at all. Gallus Rehm saw this initial situation not as a limitation but as an opportunity. “After the war, I was very lucky to be able to start over,” he recalled. “In many ways, that made me the first and only player in numerous fields.”

A Fascination For New Directions

Gallus Rehm’s great master at TUM was Professor Hubert Rüsch, the then holder of the Chair of Concrete Structures. He was a passionate advocate of new ideas regarding research goals and teaching methods that would be useful for the training of young engineers and the reconstruction of the country. As a student, assistant lecturer and for fourteen years as a research assistant, his mentor entrusted Gallus Rehm with solving novel construction problems and engineering challenges.

At TUM I have received the foundation for all my scientific and practical work.

A trailblazer in research on the corrosion properties of composite materials and on the development of unconventional building structures, Gallus Rehm was able to make a name for himself early on and was soon regarded as a proven expert. “Here, Professor Rüsch has shaped me both professionally and personally,” said Gallus Rehm. “At TUM, I have received the foundation for all my scientific and practical work. For that I am grateful by conviction.”

Braving Risky Ideas

Throughout his life, Gallus Rehm retained his curiosity and fascination for Materials Science, as well as for practical engineering work. Courageously and against all odds, he ventured into new directions. His communication skills enabled him to convince industry experts even of risky solutions. The Obermeyer Engineering Office developed the trendsetting Karlsplatz Stachus traffic structure in the centre of Munich. Gallus Rehm’s contribution was a reinforcement that could be produced economically and placed safely. This helped to achieve the breakthrough of the cut-and-cover construction method used for the first time, i.e. the construction from top to bottom.

Portrait picture of Wolfgang Herrmann and Gallus Rehm.

In 2018, the then TUM President Prof. Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann awarded Dr. Gallus Rehm the title of Honorary Senator (Photo: Uli Benz/TUM).

Gallus Rehm was also called in for the difficult restoration of the Church of St. Martin and Kastulus in Landshut. The church is one of the most important monumental Gothic buildings in southern Germany, its tower is 130.1 metres high and is the highest brick tower in the world. With diplomatic skill and sensitivity, Gallus Rehm settled the heated public dispute about the right approach to this delicate project. Gallus Rehm’s innovative, yet risky ideas for the use of precast reinforced concrete units were convincing and he was awarded the contract for the entire renovation. Now the foundations of the church are solid once again and the highest church tower in Bavaria is no longer shaky.

For some, Gallus Rehm’s daring measure is still debatable. Others regard it as an engineering masterpiece, for which he was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Reinhard Cardinal Marx in 2019. “Of course I am delighted to receive this late recognition,” said Gallus Rehm back then. “However I did not hang the medal in my living room.”

Strong Commitment to Fellow Humans

Gallus Rehm was a man of action, not one to crave recognition and boast with his awards for his significant achievements. Just as his professional success was based on a fundamental fascination for his field, so was his volunteering and patronage commitment based on a deep conviction that he wanted to do something for his fellow humans. Despite a considerable workload, Gallus Rehm, having been driven out of Hungary himself during the turmoil of the war, spent decades working for reconciliation and international understanding as a member of the The Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Ungarn (Homeland Society of Germans from Hungary). He managed to achieve this without any political pressure thanks to his communication skills, one of many things he learnt from his mentor Hubert Rüsch at TUM.

It comes to no surprise that Gallus Rehm has been equally committed to his alma mater for years. “Fourteen years at TUM naturally create a bond and unity,” he stressed. “I still feel very much at home here and still have friendships with many colleagues.” When the non-profit TUM University Foundation was established in 2010 to support the best talents, advance socially relevant research topics and promote international competitiveness with today’s foundation capital of over 50 million euros, Gallus Rehm was one of the founding donors. As a private donor of TUM’s Deutschlandstipendien, he invested in the education of young people even further.

In 2018, he received the highest honour for deserving Alumni of TUM for his achievements and commitment: the appointment as Honorary Senator. “I have been an ardent and enthusiastic worker all my life,” said Gallus Rehm. “I almost regret having become so old that I can no longer work. But I’m carrying it with dignity – finally I have time to read and listen to music.”