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    Ferreiro, Larrie D. 2014. The mutual influence of aircraft aerodynamics and ship hydrodynamics in theory and experiment. Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Vol. 68, Issue. 2, p. 241.

  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: July 2009

12 - Calculation, Measurement, and Leadership: War Research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Fluid Dynamics, 1937–1945


The history of the sciences in National Socialism can be analyzed in a number of very different ways. These include the relationships between science and ideology, the interdependence of academic and state institutions, scientists' behavior toward persecuted colleagues, and the participation of scientists in the preparation and execution of the crimes of the Nazi state. However, there is another dimension to this subject – one that concerns those sciences, or more precisely, techno-sciences, whose very research topics and structures were of keen interest to every modern state, especially to one with such a great military potential as Germany.

The integration of such sciences into the National Socialist state was therefore initially a question of neither ideology nor morality. Many of the actors – scientists, engineers, politicians – simply took this for granted, as have most historians in retrospective. Indeed, why should it be surprising or especially significant to find cooperation between aerodynamic scientists and aircraft design engineers or between research institutes and the air force, and to see scientists, industrialists, the military, and ministerial officials working together in the techno-sciences during the Nazi period?

A study of the literature published to the present shows two historiographic tendencies. First, a techno-science like aerodynamics and hydrodynamics has served to illustrate the supposedly deadlocked structures of the organization of science under National Socialism. Second, the importance of hydrodynamics and aerodynamics research during the Nazi period has been understood as a chapter in a continuous, long-term development.

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The Kaiser Wilhelm Society under National Socialism
  • Online ISBN: 9780511576355
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