296 pp., 6 x 9.25, 14 photos
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-6549-1
Published: September 2010
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1012-2
Published: March 2017
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The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was a quasi-official institution under the "protection" of Kaiser Wilhelm II, but it received most of its funding from German industry rather than the Imperial Treasury. After 1914, however, the Kaiser's chemists and their institutes provided key support to the German war effort. Within a few months of the outbreak of World War I, the institutes had been integrated into war mobilization activities. They conducted research both in weapons, such as poison gas, and in strategic resources, especially synthetics to replace naturally produced goods cut off by Britain's blockade of German ports.
By examining the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in the framework of both scientific and social change, Johnson is able to answer questions that seem puzzling if not viewed from this dual perspective, such as why German chemists pushed for institutional change at this particular time. Johnson argues that the new institutes arose from a characteristically modern tension between internationally set scientific goals and the competing national priorities of a country headed for war. Johnson's sources include the papers of Emil Fischer; the archives of several major German corporations, including Bayer, Hoechst, and Krupp; government records; and the archives of the Max Planck Society, which grew out of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society after World War II.
Originally published in 1990.
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About the Author
Jeffrey Allan Johnson is associate professor of history at Villanova University. His current research interests include chemists and chemical technology during the First World War and German chemists and the chemical industry from the 1860s to the 1930s.
For more information about Jeffrey Allan Johnson, visit the Author Page.
"An absorbing account of how a group of distinguished German chemists in the early years of this century, concerned about their nation's progress in some key areas of science, tried to organize and get secure financial backing for scientific research institutes."--Choice