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Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Modern Birkhäuser Classics)

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ISBN 10: 3034802021 / ISBN 13: 9783034802024
Published by Birkhäuser, 2011
Condition: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology...

Publisher: Birkhäuser

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: Good

Edition: 1996.

About this title


1 Aim and General Description of the Anthology The purpose of this anthology is to introduce the English speaking public to the wide spectrum of texts authored predominently by physicists portraying the ac­ tual and perceived role of physics in the Nazi state. Up to now no broad and well­ balanced documentation of German physics during this time has been available in English, despite the significant role physics has played both politically (e. g. , in weaponry planning) and ideologically (e. g. , in the controversy over the value of theoretical ('Jewish') vs. experimental ('Aryan') physics), and even though prominent figures like the scientist-philosopher and emigre Albert Einstein and the controversial nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg have become household names. This anthology will attempt to bridge this gap by presenting contempo­ rary documents and eye-witness accounts by the physicists themselves. Authors were chosen to represent the various political opinions and specialties within the physics community, omitting some of the more readily accessible texts by leading physicists (e. g. , Einstein, Heisenberg, Lenard) in favor of those by less well-known but nonetheless important figures (e. g. , Finkelnburg, Max Wien, Ramsauer). In this way we hope not only to circumvent the constricted 'Great Men' approach to history but also to offer a broader picture of the activities and conflicts within the field and the effects of the political forces exerted upon them.

From the Back Cover:

This anthology of primary sources is a collection of 121 documents in English translation portraying the role of physics, both perceived and actual, in the Nazi state. These texts were written predominantly by influential German scientists, particularly physicists, both inside and outside Germany in the period from 1933 to 1945. The semipopular articles, private correspondence, and official memoranda selected for the volume reflect the contemporary developments in science as well as the change in political climate and working conditions after the National Socialists' rise to power. The extensive annotation is clearly distinguished from the original text, and the appendix provides an aid to the reader with biographical information on the more important figures and brief outlines of frequently mentioned institutions, journals and companies. The introduction surveys the latest results in the secondary literature.




 (...) the envisaged audience includes not only scholars and students of science, history, politics, and sociology, but also the general reader.

(Mathematical Reviews)


The editor appears to have compromised very well in picking documents that have enough direct connections to link them together and illustrate the chronology of events, while at the same time surveying the variety of opinion and events filling this crucial period. (...) The documents appear in chronological order and are divided into five periods: controversies before 1933, (...) 1933-36, (...) 1936-39, (...) the six-year period of the war and finally, the legacy of National Socialism in post-war Germany. (...) Some 1000 literature references and a name index complete this comprehensive work.

(...) the quality of the translation from German is excellent.

I strongly recommend this book as an introduction to the interplay of science, government and their publics in the particular context of Nazi Germany, and as (...) illustration of the immense power of public policy-making.

(Science and Public Policy)


Many of the sources are extremely interesting and appear here for the first time.


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