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The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler

Science must always be aware of its ethical dimension–now, as then

By Jonathan Derbyshire   October 2013

Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler by Philip Ball (Bodley Head, £25)

There is a substantial literature dealing with the compromises made by writers and intellectuals under the Third Reich—the cases of the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the jurist Carl Schmitt, to name only two, have received exhaustive treatment. The behaviour of scientists under National Socialism, however, has attracted rather less attention—in English at least.

Philip Ball’s latest book, his 17th, seeks to remedy this. Although he devotes a chapter to the wretched attempts of…

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