Serving the Reich
The Struggle for the Soul of Physics under Hitler
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.
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’