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The demon of technology, mass society, and atomic physics in West Germany, 1945-1957

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In the cultural-political literature of post-1945 West Germany, atomic energy often functioned as the most potent image of a "demon of technology" fraught with both enormous potential and enormous danger. These critiques of techno-science also represented a traditional critique of "mass society," whose erstwhile anti-western sentiments now had to be sublimated. As the Cold War developed, discussion shifted to ambivalence about Germany's place in the struggle between superpowers, and the "demon of technology" sentiment shifted away from the conservative end of the spectrum. The controversy over the "Göttingen Eighteen" anti-armaments manifesto of nuclear physicists is indicative of these shifts.

Keywords: Atomic energy; Cold War; Critiques of science and technology; West Germany

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: History Department, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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