Surviving the Swastika: Scientific Research in Nazi Germany

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 ...

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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: 2/28/1997
  • 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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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Introduction 3
1 Origins 11
Germany's Scientific Hegemony Threatened 14
Foundations 18
First Creations 21
World War I 25
2 The Weimar Years 29
The Poverty of German Science 29
Scientists Take Control 34
International Relations 36
What's in a Name? 37
Spawning Industry-Related Sciences 40
That "Very Empyrean of Science" in Berlin-Dahlem 44
3 From Accommodation to Passive Opposition, 1933-35 51
Forced Transformations 53
Rifle at Best 57
The Consolidation Process 59
Jewish Scientists Who Stayed or Delayed Departure 63
Storm Troopers and Communists 65
The Balance Sheet: Quantitative and Qualitative Losses 67
Passive Opposition: the Haber Memorial Service 68
4 National Socialist Science Policy and the Kaiser Wilhelm Society 73
Universities 73
Ministries Transformed 76
Unification, Nationalization, and Control 81
Military Science 84
Mobilization for War 90
5 The Turning Point, 1936-39 97
The Last Stand 97
The Change in Leadership 100
Research and the Four Year Plan 102
International Exchange and Isolation 105
6 The Survival of Basic Biological Research 110
The Berlin Biological Community 111
Scientifically or Politically Qualified? 115
Viruses, Sex Hormones, and Mutation Genetics 118
Funding for Basic Biological Research 123
Eugenics at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes 125
7 The War Years, 1939-45 131
Albert Vogler: The Perfect but Reluctant President, 1941 132
Greater Germany and the New Order of German Science 137
For the Fatherland? 150
Conditions of Research 157
8 The Uranium Machine 162
Uranium Fission 162
Atomic Beginnings 164
Nuclear Power Conferences in Berlin-Dahlem, 1942 169
The Final War Years 175
Uranium Machine Experiments in the Bunker and Cave 177
Alsos, Farm Hall, and Operation Epsilon 181
Epilogue 187
Conclusion 199
Appendix 207
Notes 215
Sources 249
Index 267
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