Max Planck

1858 Kiel (Germany) – 1947 Göttingen (Germany)
Physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics 1918
Country: Germany

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Max Planck

Planck speaks at Harnack House in 1935 about "Physics in the Battle over Ideology". His keynote lecture on theoretical physics masks moral criticism of the Nazi regime, which is increasingly emerging as an illegitimate state, and refutes the ideologising "German physics" of Johannes Stark. "As the laws of nature apply indomitably and logically, […] the co-existence of people also requires the same law for everyone. […] Woe to a society when it feels the certainty of law falter," said Planck.

Planck is President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society from 1930. After Hitler comes to power in 1933, the Society enters difficult waters and Planck endeavours to protect the autonomy of research against increasing pressure of ideologisation. He only partially succeeds, and Planck makes many compromises as President. He bows to the Nazi laws on the dismissal of employees who are Jews or of Jewish origin. Planck’s term of office comes to an end in 1936, but it takes until 1937 before a successor is found in Carl Bosch.

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