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Experiencing the devastation of Darmstadt


Why I went to post-war Germany as a student
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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The next vacation was the summer vacation of 1949, the so-called long vacation. And I’d heard that there was an opportunity to go as an exchange student to Germany, and this interested me for two reasons. The first was that, as I explained earlier, I had done two years of essentially schoolboy German to... as part of the degree scheme in Melbourne, but that was translation more from German into English. I could speak a little bit of German, and actually both my mother and my aunts are fluent in both German and French, as well as English, but that of course didn’t rub off on a teenage schoolboy. So I wanted to improve my German. But the other thing of course was that it was just three or four years after the end of the war, and I wanted to see what the conditions were like in Germany, and I must say it was a total revelation to me.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: 1949, Germany, WWII

Duration: 1 minute, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011