The Reverse Side of a Legend: Otto Hahn in the Context of Nazi Germany

Filip Grygar



The article aims to demystify a long-standing legend about Otto Hahn, who, as the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry for the discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei, is widely regarded as an academic figurehead in the world of science. He was considered a symbol of so-called German decency and responsibility; he was a model example of an anti-Nazi scientist who did not collaborate with the criminality of the regime in its warmongery. It was only from the 1990s onwards that historians gained access to new archival materials, which allowed for a comprehensive picture of Hahn’s work in Nazi Germany and his involvement in uranium research during wartime, whose aim was construction of nuclear reactors and bombs.


Otto Hahn, Nuclear fission, Uranium Club, Nazism, Farm Hall

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Copyright (c) 2019 Filip Grygar

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: