Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9780226204574 Published October 2014 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth except Canada
E-book $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226204604 Published October 2014 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth except Canada

Serving the Reich

The Struggle for the Soul of Physics under Hitler

Philip Ball

Serving the Reich
Bookmark and Share
Read an excerpt.

Philip Ball

320 pages | 6 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9780226204574 Published October 2014 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth except Canada
E-book $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226204604 Published October 2014 Not for sale in Europe or the British Commonwealth except Canada
After World War II, most scientists in Germany maintained that they had been apolitical or actively resisted the Nazi regime, but the true story is much more complicated. In Serving the Reich, Philip Ball takes a fresh look at that controversial history, contrasting the career of Peter Debye, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, with those of two other leading physicists in Germany during the Third Reich: Max Planck, the elder statesman of physics after whom Germany’s premier scientific society is now named, and Werner Heisenberg, who succeeded Debye as director of the institute when it became focused on the development of nuclear power and weapons.        
 
Mixing history, science, and biography, Ball’s gripping exploration of the lives of scientists under Nazism offers a powerful portrait of moral choice and personal responsibility, as scientists navigated “the grey zone between complicity and resistance.” Ball’s account of the different choices these three men and their colleagues made shows how there can be no clear-cut answers or judgement of their conduct. Yet, despite these ambiguities, Ball makes it undeniable that the German scientific establishment as a whole mounted no serious resistance to the Nazis, and in many ways acted as a willing instrument of the state.
 
Serving the Reich considers what this problematic history can tell us about the relationship of science and politics today. Ultimately, Ball argues, a determination to present science as an abstract inquiry into nature that is “above politics” can leave science and scientists dangerously compromised and vulnerable to political manipulation.
Jewish Daily Forward
“A fair-minded and meticulous assessment of the generally weak-kneed response, and especially of the actions of three non-Jewish physicists in Germany, all Nobel laureates.”
Physics Today
“The biggest problem with the behavior of Heisenberg, Planck, and Debye is not, Ball suggests, that they failed to actively resist the Nazis. After all, he writes, ‘it is a brave person who asserts without hesitation that he or she would have done better.’ Instead, it is their failure even to engage with the idea that they, as scientists, bore some responsibility for the work they did and the regime under which they did it. Being an ‘apolitical scientist’ is itself a political decision, Ball argues, and as his book demonstrates, it is not always the right one.”
Contents
Preface
Introduction: ‘Nobel Prize-winner with dirty hands’

1 ‘As conservatively as possible'
2 ‘Physics must be rebuilt’
3 ‘The beginning of something new’
4 ‘Intellectual freedom is a thing of the past’
5 ‘Service to science must be service to the nation’
6 ‘There is very likely a Nordic science’
7 ‘You obviously cannot swim against the tide’
8 ‘I have seen my death!’
9 ‘As a scientist or as a man’
10 ‘Hitherto unknown destructive power’
11 ‘Heisenberg was mostly silent’
12 ‘We are what we pretend to be’

Epilogue: ‘We did not speak the same language’

Notes
Bibliography
Image Credits
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style |

Chicago Blog: Mathematics and Physics

Events in Mathematics and Physics

Keep Informed

JOURNALs in Mathematics and Physics