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The Mental Aftermath

The Mentality of German Physicists 1945-1949

The Mental Aftermath by Klaus Hentschel
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Few scientific communities have been more thoroughly studied than 20th-century German physicists. Yet their behaviour and patterns of thinking immediately after the war remains puzzling. During the first five post war 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 idiosyncrasies 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 guiltwould bring down even more severe sanctions on their discipline. Using tools from the history of mentality, such as analysis of serial publications, these tendencies are examined. The perspective of emigré physicists, as reflected in their private letters and reports, embellish this portrait.
OUP Oxford; June 2007
212 pages; ISBN 9780191525612
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Title: The Mental Aftermath
Author: Klaus Hentschel