Max Planck, was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.He had foreseen that the Nazi regimes racial law would have consequences for science in Germany.
An immediate consequence upon passage of the law was that it produced both quantitative and qualitative losses to the physics community. Numerically, it has been estimated that a total of 1,145 university teachers, in all fields, were driven from their posts, which represented about 14% of the higher learning institutional staff members in 1932–1933.Out of 26 German nuclear physicists cited in the literature before 1933, 50% emigrated. Qualitatively, 11 physicists and four chemists who had won or would win the Nobel Prize emigrated from Germany shortly after Hitler came to power, most of them in 1933.These 15 scientists were: Hans Bethe, Felix Bloch, Max Born, Albert Einstein, James Franck, Heinrich Gerhard Kuhn, Peter Debye, Dennis Gabor, Fritz Haber, Gerhard Herzberg, Victor Hess, George de Hevesy, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern, and Eugene Wigner. Britain and the United States were often the recipients of the talent which left Germany. The University of Göttingen had 45 dismissals from the staff of 1932–1933, for a loss of 19%.
Eight students, assistants, and colleagues of the Göttingen theoretical physicist Max Born left Europe after Hitler came to power and eventually found work on the Manhattan Project, thus helping the United States, Britain and Canada to develop the atomic bomb; they were Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Robert Oppenheimer (who was American, but had studied under Born), Edward Teller, Victor Weisskopf, Eugene Wigner, and John von Neumann. Otto Robert Frisch, who with Rudolf Peierls first calculated the critical mass of U-235 needed for an explosive, was also a Jewish refugee.
Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, had been right in assessing the consequences of National Socialist policies. In 1933, Planck, as president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (Kaiser Wilhelm Society), met with Adolf Hitler. During the meeting, Planck told Hitler that forcing Jewish scientists to emigrate would mutilate Germany and the benefits of their work would go to foreign countries. Hitler responded with a rant against Jews and Planck could only remain silent and then take his leave. The National Socialist regime would only come around to the same conclusion as Planck in the 6 July 1942 meeting regarding the future agenda of the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council), but by then it was too late.
Hans Geiger was a German physicist. He is best known as the co-inventor of the detector component of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered the atomic nucleus.
In 1925, Geiger accepted his first teaching position, which was at the University of Kiel, Germany. Here, he and Walther Müller improved the sensitivity, performance, and durability of the counter, and it became known as the “Geiger-Müller counter.” It could detect not only alpha particles but also beta particles (electrons) and ionizing photons. The counter was essentially in the same form as the modern counter.
In 1929, Geiger moved to the University of Tübingen (Germany), where he was named professor of physics and director of research at the Institute of Physics. In 1929, while at the Institute, Geiger made his first observations of a cosmic-ray shower. Geiger continued to investigate cosmic rays, artificial radioactivity, and nuclear fission after accepting a position in 1936 at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, a position he held until his death. In 1937, with Otto Zeiller, Geiger used the counter to measure a cosmic-ray shower
Beginning in 1939, after the discovery of atomic fission, Geiger was a member of the Uranium Club, the German investigation of nuclear weapons during World War II. The group splintered in 1942 after its members came to believe (incorrectly, as it would later transpire) that nuclear weapons would not play a significant role in ending the war.
Although Geiger signed a petition against the Nazi government’s interference with universities, he provided no support to colleague Hans Bethe (winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physics) when he was fired for being Jewish.
Politicization of the German academia under the Nazi regime had driven many physicists, engineers, and mathematicians out of Germany as early as 1933. Those of Jewish heritage who did not leave were quickly purged from German institutions, further thinning the ranks of academia. The politicization of the universities, along with the demands for manpower by the German armed forces (many scientists and technical personnel were conscripted, despite possessing technical and engineering skills), substantially reduced the number of able German physicists.
The German nuclear weapons program (German: Uranprojekt; informally known as the Uranverein; English: Uranium Club) was an unsuccessful scientific effort led by Germany to research and develop atomic weapons during World War II. It was mainly unsuccessful because of the immigration, purge and murder of so many brilliant scientists. The scientists that remained and worked in the Uranium Club weren’t brilliant enough to figure out that their work was leaked to foreign intelligence agencies.
From April through December of 1945, ten of Nazi Germany’s greatest nuclear physicists were detained by Allied military and intelligence services in a kind of gilded cage at Farm Hall, an English country manor near Cambridge. The physicists knew the Reich had failed to develop an atomic bomb, and they soon learned, from a BBC radio report on August 6, that the Allies had succeeded in their own efforts to create such a weapon. But what they did not know was that many of their meetings and private conversations were being monitored and recorded by British agents.
Just imagine what could have happened if Hitler did not have such a hate for the Jews. His own hate lost him the war.
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