Surviving the Swastika: Scientific Research in Nazi Germany

Surviving the Swastika: Scientific Research in Nazi Germany

by Kristie Macrakis
     
 

Surviving the Swastika examines scientific research under National Socialism through the prism of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of the Sciences, a semi-private umbrella organization which founded and maintained institutes for basic scientific research. Home to over twenty Nobel-prize winning scientists, the prestigious forerunner of the Max Planck

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Overview

Surviving the Swastika examines scientific research under National Socialism through the prism of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of the Sciences, a semi-private umbrella organization which founded and maintained institutes for basic scientific research. Home to over twenty Nobel-prize winning scientists, the prestigious forerunner of the Max Planck Society was at the forefront of scientific advance in the first half of the twentieth century. Surprisingly, the Society not only survived National Socialism, but often thrived. Kristie Macrakis provides a full-scale analysis of the Society's development within the context of the phases of a polycratic National Socialist state. A spectrum of responses to National Socialism existed there from moral probity to accommodation and opportunism. Macrakis uncovers this differentiated scientific and social landscape by covering topics ranging from Max Planck's failed negotiations with recalcitrant government officials regarding the expulsion of Jews and Communists to his success in securing a thriving community for basic biological research in Berlin-Dahlem, from the practice of nuclear power research to institutional growth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Macrakis's arguments are based on an impressive array of archival and secondary sources, and her interpretations of the evidence fit well with those of other historians that establish continuity from the Weimar period through the Third Reich and into the postwar period, that emphasize the complexity of pressures on and motivations of those acting in the Third Reich, that explore varieties of resistance and opposition and the limits of Hitler's power, and that see parallels between developments in National Socialist Germany and in other industrialized countries at about the same time."—Science

"The strength of Macrakis's account lies in the insights she offers into the institutional history of science at this time in areas such as virology, hormonal research, fission research, and radiation genetics."—American Historical Review

"The complete index and an enormous list of references on science during the Third Reich are a researcher's dream."—Choice

"Based on considerable primary-source research, Surviving the Swastika has much to commend it. Most importantly, the above evidence to the contrary, it encourages students of the Third Reich to view German science as something other tha a monolithic creature of the regime."—The Historian

"She effectively challenges the long-held view that only pseudoscience prospered under Nazism....This study greatly advances knowledge of science under Nazism. Macrakis's results have important implications for more general issues such as the politics of science and the responsibility of scientists."—ISIS

Booknews
Studies the ways in which Germany's most prestigious scientific research organization--the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (the present-day Max Planck Society)--functioned and survived in Nazi Germany. The aim is to further understanding of how extreme political movements affect the scientific community and its work, and the ways scientific leaders behave in times of political stress. From the introduction: "Many of the ways in which the social order influences science in turbulent times are present in dormant forms in science organizations, science policy, and the practice of scientific research in normal times, or in a democracy." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195070101
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/28/1993
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

Kristie Macrakis received her Ph.D. in the History of Science at Harvard University. After joining the faculty of Michigan State University as an Assistant Professor of the History of Science she spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She is the author of numerous articles on science in modern Germany.

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