a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Life as a foreign student in post-war Germany


Experiencing the devastation of Darmstadt
Norman Greenwood Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

We crossed over from Newhaven to Dieppe. Dieppe looked totally miserable. It had been of course occupied at least twice, probably three times, first by the Germans, then by the British and Allied forces, and all through the northern parts of France it did look very poor and battered around. But that was as nothing compared to Germany.

My station was at Darmstadt, at the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt, which is between Frankfurt and Heidelberg, towards the south of Germany. And to be frank about it, the place was totally devastated. Darmstadt is quite a large city, and for one-and-a-half or two kilometres from the centre in all directions there wasn’t a single building that was unaffected. Most were totally bombed – craters, just shells – or badly damaged, and it was really a very sobering experience to go there. And what was even more sobering was that the German student club that I’d been put in touch with, called the Wildenburgers, made me and a fellow Cambridge student members, and looked after us well. They were generous to a point, they saw that we had everything that we needed. And I then went into the lab, of course, and actually learnt X-ray crystal diffraction work there; I was taught that as a useful way of learning German in a scientific environment.

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: Newhaven, Dieppe, France, Germany, Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, WWII

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011