The late German-American physicist Hans Bethe once described himself as "the H-bomb's midwife". He left Nazi Germany in 1933, after which he helped develop the first atomic bomb, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his contribution to the theory of nuclear reactions, advocated tighter controls over nuclear weapons and campaigned vigorously for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
After that I go back to Germany and this time I got an actual job, namely to be acting assistant professor, I think is the best translation, in Tübingen to teach theoretical physics. And this started out very nice. The professor, Geiger, was very nice to me and showed me all the experiments he was doing and I got immediately two graduate students and I gave my lectures which were attended not only by the graduate students, but also by some faculty. There was one very nice young man, assistant to Geiger, Hochse [Sexl] who later on became well-known in connection with the Mayer-Süss, the shell model of the nucleus, and who, as far as I believe, never became a real Nazi. Well, on the other hand this was the winter of '32 to '33 and Nazis were very strong and the student population of Tübingen was very Nazi. There were torch parades and all sorts of things, and there were a number of students who came with a swastika to... to my lectures. It certainly didn't look very good.
Title: Teaching at Tübingen and the rise of Nazism
Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).
Germany, Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Nazis, Nazism, Hans Geiger