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The Mental Aftermath

The Mentality of German Physicists 1945-1949

The Mental Aftermath by Klaus Hentschel
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The perplexing behaviour of even morally acclaimed German physicists toward the Allied occupiers after WWII is examined. Their public and private statements are examined and may shed light on the prickly issue of the proper comportment of victor nations. - ;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 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 tendencies are examined. The perspective of emigr--eacute--; physicists, as reflected in their private letters and reports, embellish this portrait. - ;Hentschel's book is also well written; originally publishes in German in 2005, its translation is very good. - ;A well-researched, well-written, well-translated [and] fascinating insight into the lives of some of the giants of the 20th-century physics - Times Higher Education Supplement

Oxford University Press, UK; June 2007
212 pages; ISBN 9780191525612
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Title: The Mental Aftermath
Author: Klaus Hentschel
 
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