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Einstein's German World

– tekijä: Fritz Stern

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1092189,671 (3.5)1
The French political philosopher Raymond Aron once observed that the twentieth century "could have been Germany's century." In 1900, the country was Europe's preeminent power, its material strength and strident militaristic ethos apparently balanced by a vital culture and extraordinary scientific achievement. It was poised to achieve greatness. In Einstein's German World, the eminent historian Fritz Stern explores the ambiguous promise of Germany before Hitler, as well as its horrifying decline into moral nihilism under Nazi rule, and aspects of its remarkable recovery since World War II. He does so by gracefully blending history and biography in a sequence of finely drawn studies of Germany's great scientists and of German-Jewish relations before and during Hitler's regime. Stern's central chapter traces the complex friendship of Albert Einstein and the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Fritz Haber, contrasting their responses to German life and to their Jewish heritage. Haber, a convert to Christianity and a firm German patriot until the rise of the Nazis; Einstein, a committed internationalist and pacifist, and a proud though secular Jew. Other chapters, also based on new archival sources, consider the turbulent and interrelated careers of the physicist Max Planck, an austere and powerful figure who helped to make Berlin a happy, productive place for Einstein and other legendary scientists; of Paul Ehrlich, the founder of chemotherapy; of Walther Rathenau, the German-Jewish industrialist and statesman tragically assassinated in 1922; and of Chaim Weizmann, chemist, Zionist, and first president of Israel, whose close relations with his German colleagues is here for the first time recounted. Stern examines the still controversial way that historians have dealt with World War I and Germans have dealt with their nation's defeat, and he analyzes the conflicts over the interpretations of Germany's past that persist to this day. He also writes movingly about the psychic cost of Germany's reunification in 1990, the reconciliation between Germany and Poland, and the challenges and prospects facing Germany today. At once historical and personal, provocative and accessible, Einstein's German World illuminates the issues that made Germany's and Europe's past and present so important in a tumultuous century of creativity and violence.… (lisätietoja)

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The French political philosopher Raymond Aron once remarked to Fritz Stern that the twentieth century could have been Germany’s century.” This remark, which Stern mentions in the introduction to his book, creates a opening in which Stern examines reemerging themes like material strength, nationalism, militarism, and German culture all through the eyes of many of Einstein’s scientific coevals. In fact, from the biographical sketches that Stern produces here, he offers the uncontroversial opinion that Germany’s decline into moral nihilism under Nazi rule and the varying effects that had on the professional classes within Germany were some of the forces that prevented Germany from realizing its fullest potential. For this reason, the book is more than a little underwhelming.

The first half of the book contains a series of miniature Plutarch-like biographies of the immunologist Paul Ehrlich, physicist Max Planck, and the chemist Fritz Haber (the only major convert to Christian Stern mentions). Despite the title, some were much close to Einstein than others, but of the four, Einstein was the only one who never embraced militarism and who encouraged Zionism.

Later in the book, Stern offers a couple of essays which discuss Zionism and some of its earlier discussants, including Walther Rathenau and Chaim Weizmann, whose early faith in the movement would later develop into disappointment. Two more essays – “Travails of the New Germany” and “Lost Homelands” – explore broader themes in contemporary Germany historiography; these explore the tragic psychic cost of German reunification. There’s also a wonderfully polemical essay titled “The Goldhagen Controversy,” which argues against Daniel Goldhagen’s supposed thesis set forth in “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” that there was something in the German people themselves that drove them to orchestrate the Holocaust. (I use the word “supposed” here because I haven’t read his book and wouldn’t want to criticize it without doing so.)

I have previously read and reviewed Stern’s “The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of Germanic Ideology,” and thought it to be one of the better books that I read in 2012. While I’ve taught science and math, I read precious little of it for pleasure, but was immediately interested when I was Stern’s name. I don’t know what it is about this book, but he never seems as fascinated by his subjects here. He admits that he’s never had a formal background in science, even though most of his subjects are professional scientists. While it is always a historian’s task to remain as objective as possible, Stern seemed cold and sometimes even uninterested toward his subjects – and quite frankly, he rarely says anything about them that hasn’t been said before. If you’re really interested in science in early twentieth-century Germany from a biographical side, this might have something of interest to offer. Otherwise, this is going to be a lot of general history with which you’re probably already familiar. ( )
2 ääni kant1066 | Dec 24, 2012 |
A collection of lectures, articles and reviews of the author very loosely related to the social milieu in Germany at the time that Einstein lived there. I didn't read all the essays.

The most interesting one for me was Together and Apart: Fritz Haber and Albert Einstein, comparing and contrasting the lives of these two Jewish/Germanic contemporary scientists. Most of Stern's major points about the effects, both positive and negative, of anti-Semitism on the work of Jewish scientists are made in this essay which includes a fairly detailed biography of both men up until 1933.

I also found interesting insights in his discussion of historians who participated in the First World War, "Historians and the Great War: Private Experience and Public Explication." Also useful was a critical review of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners.

The book as a whole is both repetitious and disjoint. Many essays go over the same ground, while many others are very far from the topic of Einstein. Still, I think anyone interested in German intellectual history will find interesting material by judiciously sampling the essays here. ( )
  aulsmith | Sep 7, 2011 |
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Stern, FritzTekijäensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Charlot, MichelKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Duchamp, PierreKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Trierweiler, DenisKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (3)

The French political philosopher Raymond Aron once observed that the twentieth century "could have been Germany's century." In 1900, the country was Europe's preeminent power, its material strength and strident militaristic ethos apparently balanced by a vital culture and extraordinary scientific achievement. It was poised to achieve greatness. In Einstein's German World, the eminent historian Fritz Stern explores the ambiguous promise of Germany before Hitler, as well as its horrifying decline into moral nihilism under Nazi rule, and aspects of its remarkable recovery since World War II. He does so by gracefully blending history and biography in a sequence of finely drawn studies of Germany's great scientists and of German-Jewish relations before and during Hitler's regime. Stern's central chapter traces the complex friendship of Albert Einstein and the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Fritz Haber, contrasting their responses to German life and to their Jewish heritage. Haber, a convert to Christianity and a firm German patriot until the rise of the Nazis; Einstein, a committed internationalist and pacifist, and a proud though secular Jew. Other chapters, also based on new archival sources, consider the turbulent and interrelated careers of the physicist Max Planck, an austere and powerful figure who helped to make Berlin a happy, productive place for Einstein and other legendary scientists; of Paul Ehrlich, the founder of chemotherapy; of Walther Rathenau, the German-Jewish industrialist and statesman tragically assassinated in 1922; and of Chaim Weizmann, chemist, Zionist, and first president of Israel, whose close relations with his German colleagues is here for the first time recounted. Stern examines the still controversial way that historians have dealt with World War I and Germans have dealt with their nation's defeat, and he analyzes the conflicts over the interpretations of Germany's past that persist to this day. He also writes movingly about the psychic cost of Germany's reunification in 1990, the reconciliation between Germany and Poland, and the challenges and prospects facing Germany today. At once historical and personal, provocative and accessible, Einstein's German World illuminates the issues that made Germany's and Europe's past and present so important in a tumultuous century of creativity and violence.

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