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From Colleague to Enemy? German Petroleum Geologists and the Cold War

  • Martina Kölbl-EbertEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Historical Geography and Geosciences book series (HIGEGE)

Abstract

After World War II, the geological community in Germany was left in disarray. Most geoscience institutes, survey offices and museums had been damaged or destroyed. Geology, however, was in possession of crucial expertise for rebuilding the stricken country, which now was administrated by foreign military governments in four occupation areas. There were two nuclei for the revival of a German geological survey, the former Reichsamt für Bodenforschung in the Soviet Sector of Berlin and an important off-shoot of the Reichsamt, the Department of Petroleum Geology within the British occupation area in Celle near Hannover. It seemed only natural to assume that—once matters had settled down—Berlin would again play a vital role as a major centre of geology in years to come. Consequently, both offices cooperated, exchanging publications and geological information. Over the next couple of years, however, cooperation became progressively difficult. Berlin colleagues reported increasing political pressure and several had to answer for their naïve assumption that they still were part of a common all-German geological “family”. Having sent information on petroleum to western colleagues, they found themselves charged with espionage and treason, facing imprisonment and potentially worse. At the same time, communist propaganda endeavoured to discredit western geologists as fascist–capitalist agents.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am indebted to the University Library of Freiburg im Breisgau and their staff members for granting me generous access to their repository. Thanks are also due to my father, Stefan Kölbl, for putting back sense into the Google translation of the Hungarian Wikipedia article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jura-Museum Eichstätt (SNSB-JME)EichstättGermany

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