The Expulsion of Jewish Biochemists from Academia in Nazi Germany
Abstract

In contrast to anti-Jewish campaigns at German universities in the 19th century, which met with opposition from liberal scholars, among them prominent chemists, there was no public reaction to the dismissals in 1933. Germany had been an international leader in (bio-)chemistry until the 1930s. Due to a high proportion of Jewish physicists, (bio-)chemistry was strongly affected by the expulsion of scientists. Organic and inorganic chemistry were least affected, while biochemistry suffered most. Polymer chemistry and quantum chemistry, of minor importance among the majority of academic chemists (despite pioneering work by German physicists) was further weakened by the expulsion of renowned scientists. However, a look at the research carried out in Nazi Germany shows that no field of research "emigrated" as such, except research into molecular beams. The reception of emigré (bio-)chemists differed with respect to their field of research and the degree of competition in the host countries. Thus biochemists and physical chemists were accepted at American universities, whereas organic chemists were not. In contrast, they received high positions in Turkey, Palestine/Israel, and Egypt. After WWII, few emigrés were asked to come back. The delay of the resumption of international contacts by German (bio-)chemists contributed to the delay in rebuilding in particular German biochemistry, the physical chemistry of polymers, and physical organic chemistry.