, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 285-306
Date: 29 Sep 2006

Biochemistry in Wartime: The Life and Lessons of Adolf Butenandt, 1936–1946

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Abstract

This essay discusses the wartime work of one of the world’s leading biochemists, the Nobel Prize winner, Adolf Butenandt. It describes the influence of the war on Butenandt’s Institute, and considers his role as a representative figure in the collusion of science, government, and the military in Nazi Germany.

Achim Trunk is a biologist and historian who specializes in the history of the life sciences. He studied at the University of Cologne, and now works at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science, where he is editing the scientific and medical papers of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Between 2001 and 2004, he was a member of the Berlin team that studied the history of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society during National Socialism. As part of that work, he coordinated the working party on Adolf Butenandt.