1st Edition

British Exploitation of German Science and Technology, 1943-1949

By Charlie Hall Copyright 2019
    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    At the end of the Second World War, Germany lay at the mercy of its occupiers, all of whom launched programmes of scientific and technological exploitation. Each occupying nation sought to bolster their own armouries and industries with the spoils of war, and Britain was no exception. Shrouded in secrecy yet directed at the top levels of government and driven by ingenuity from across the civil service and armed forces, Britain made exploitation a key priority. By examining factories and laboratories, confiscating prototypes and blueprints, and interrogating and even recruiting German experts, Britain sought to utilise the innovations of the last war to prepare for the next.

    This ground-breaking book tells the full story of British exploitation for the first time, sheds new light on the legacies of the Second World War, and contributes to histories of intelligence, science, warfare and power in the midst of the twentieth century.




    Chapter One: The Scientific War

    1. Science and Strategy

    2. Spying on Science

    3. Forerunners to Exploitation

    Chapter Two: The Origins of Exploitation

    1. The Exploitation Idea

    2. Wartime Deployment

    3. Into the Reich

    Chapter Three: Exploitation in Earnest

    1. Committees and Agencies

    2. Investigators and Exploiters

    3. Competition and Co-operation

    Chapter Four: The Spoils of War

    1. Material Spoils

    2. Chemical and Biological Warfare

    3. Rocketry and Aeronautics

    Chapter Five: Exploiting Expertise

    1. Dustbin and Epsilon

    2. Detention and Interrogation in Germany

    3. Detention and Interrogation in Britain

    Chapter Six: The Brain Drain

    1. Defence Recruitment

    2. Civil Recruitment

    3. The Émigrés

    Chapter Seven: Allies and Rivals

    1. The United States

    2. Europe

    3. The Global Diaspora

    Chapter Eight: A New Adversary

    1. Working with the Soviets

    2. ‘A Completely Open Race’

    3. Denial Policy

    Chapter Nine: Exploitation and the Occupation

    1. The British Zone

    2. Control of Science

    3. Denazification and Demilitarisation

    Chapter Ten: Exploitation in Context

    1. Reparations

    2. Legality and Morality

    3. The Public Domain


    1. Epilogue I: The End of Exploitation

    2. Epilogue II: Impacts and Legacies

    3. Concluding Remarks




    Charlie Hall is Associate Lecturer in History at the University of Kent.

    This book is not only a page turner for anyone interested in science, national security, and the postwar order, it also fills a void in our understanding of Britain’s role in exploiting Germany’s technological breakthroughs as it set out on a new role in world affairs.

    - Jonathan Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor, University of Pennsylvania


    In this thoroughly researched and engaging read, Hall argues that the British exploitation programme became primarily shaped by concerns about beating the Soviet Union to Germany’s treasure trove of science and technology. In doing so, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the close of the Second World War and the origins of the Cold War.

    - Brian Balmer, Professor of Science & Technology Studies, University College London


    A scholarly history of the British exploitation of German science and technology after World War II is long overdue. Charlie Hall’s book is very well written, thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and balanced in its judgments. I recommend it to anyone interested in how the Allies seized and utilized German technology and personnel as the war ended and the Cold War began.

    - Michael Neufeld, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

    Hall has written a short but weighty book that should be on the reading list of any historian of science and technology, the Cold War, and international relations alike.

    - Mario Daniels, Technology and Culture 62, no. 4