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The Mental Aftermath: The Mentality of German Physicists 1945-1949
Few scientific communities have been more thoroughly studied than 20th-century German physicists. Yet their behavior and patterns of thinking immediately after the war remains puzzling. During the first five postwar years they suspended their internecine battles and a strange solidarity emerged. Former enemies were suddenly willing to exonerate each other...
Few scientific communities have been more thoroughly studied than 20th-century German physicists. Yet their behavior and patterns of thinking immediately after the war remains puzzling. During the first five postwar years they suspended their internecine battles and a strange solidarity emerged. 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 idiosyncracies melded into a strangely uniform pattern of rejection or resistance to the 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 as analysis of serial publications, these tendenciesare examined. The perspective of emigré physicists, as reflected in their private letters and reports, embellish this portrait.
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