The Mental Aftermath: The Mentality of German Physicists 1945-1949

Hardcover | June 14, 2007

byKlaus Hentschel

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Few scientific communities have been more thoroughly studied than 20th-century German physicists. Yet their behaviour and patterns of thinking immediately after the war remains puzzling. During the first five post war years they suspended their internecine battles and a strange solidarityemerged. Former enemies were suddenly willing to exonerate each other blindly and even morally upright physicists began to write tirades against the 'denazification mischief' or the 'export of scientists'. Personal idiosyncrasies melded into a strangely uniform pattern of rejection or resistance tothe Allied occupiers, with attendant repressed feelings and self-pity. Politics was once again perceived as remote, dirty business. It was feared that the least concession of guilt would bring down even more severe sanctions on their discipline. Using tools from the history of mentality, such asanalysis of serial publications, these tendencies are examined. The perspective of emigre physicists, as reflected in their private letters and reports, embellish this portrait.

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Few scientific communities have been more thoroughly studied than 20th-century German physicists. Yet their behaviour and patterns of thinking immediately after the war remains puzzling. During the first five post war years they suspended their internecine battles and a strange solidarityemerged. Former enemies were suddenly willing to...

Prof. Klaus Hentschel University of Stuttgart Germany Klaus Hentschel has been teaching history of science since 1990 as assistant professor and guest professor at the Universities of Hamburg, Gottingen and Stuttgart, before he was appointed full professor and head of the section History of Science at the University of Stuttgart. Wit...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.45 × 6.61 × 0.59 inPublished:June 14, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199205663

ISBN - 13:9780199205660

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Table of Contents

1. Scientists in Germany seen from the outside2. Tensions with the Allies3. Russian phobia4. Sense of isolation and grief over the fragmentation of Germany5. Bitterness about the "export of scientists"6. Scapegoating the 'Aryan physics' movement7. Forgetting8. Shame, listlessness and lethargy9. Self-justification and the guilt issue10. Self-pity, sentimentality and selfishness11. 'Propaganda-free day-to-day' and political apathy12. New awareness of a scientist's responsibility13. Workaholism: "If we want to live, we must rebuild"14. Side-lining of emigres and critics15. Insensitivity in communicating with emigres16. Distrust and obduracy among emigres17. The mental aftermath

Editorial Reviews

`A very important book. Hentschel shows just how deeply mired German physicists became in the Third Reich and how unselfcritical they were afterwards. It deserves to be widely read by those interested in modern German history as well as by those interested in the history of science.'Nicholas Stargardt, University of Oxford, author of 'Witnesses of War'