Just three women qualified for a professorship in physics in Germany before the Second World War. All three began their careers with great promise; all three had to leave Hitler's Germany, among them Hertha Sponer. An ambitious girl, she had to struggle to achieve the education she craved, culminating in a Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen. There followed an apprenticeship in Berlin, and work under the aegis of James Franck, around the time he received the Nobel Prize. Their academic world was shattered by the Nazis. Sponer reluctantly embarked on a new life in North Carolina. She succeeded as Professor of Physics at Duke University. She became a recognized authority on the electronic spectra of aromatic molecules (benzene and derivatives). Late in life, she became the second wife of James Franck.