Symposium Theme

The renowned Lund theologian Hugo Odeberg
was chairman of the Swedish-German
Association (Riksföreningen Sverige-Tyskland),
the most prominent “pro-German” organization
in Sweden during the NS period, with many
academics and other intellectuals among
its membership. Here he addresses the general
meeting of the Association in August 1941.
Photo: the Swedish National Archives.

Among intellectuals the proper relationship between knowledge and power has been debated since antiquity. With the rise of Communism, Fascism and Nazism intellectual pursuits of all kinds seemed to become politicized by necessity. A common strategy then – as it still is – was however to claim that the pursuit of knowledge is by its very nature apolitical. The ideological circumstances of the interwar era and the Second World War in fact made claims of apolitical knowledge production very political indeed. Such claims were common among intellectuals with a positive view of German developments. Some of them argued not only that knowledge production should be politically impartial but also that developments in the Third Reich should be viewed impartially (in contrast to politicized criticism from e.g. the left). Such discourses implicitly connected apolitical knowledge making with anti-democratic tendencies.

Relations between NS Germany and other countries have been extensively investigated in some areas (foreign policy, economics etc.). As for intellectual and scientific connections with Germany, research has been more neglected. The aim of this symposium is to gather scholars working on relations between “pro-German” (i.e. with a positive view of the Hitler regime) intellectuals outside of Germany, among themselves and with German colleagues, during the Nazi era. In particular we are interested in discussing how intellectual pursuits were shaped in interactions with the academic system in NS Germany (e.g. through Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst or Deutsches Wissenschaftliches Institut) where scientific and cultural exchange was viewed as part and parcel of “cultural propaganda”.

The symposium will investigate views on knowledge and politics among “pro-German” intellectuals through a comparative approach. We presume that positive views on the Hitler regime were indicative of a broader discontent with democracy that, among other things, represented an alternative approach to modernization that was not limited to the German heartlands.


Doawnloadable programme in PDF

Thursday, December 8

  • 9.00–9.15 Welcome
  • 9.15–10.00 Mark Walker, key note, Copenhagen Revisited
  • 10.00–10.30 Fernando Clara, In the middle of the storm: The Academy of Sciences of Lisbon between science, international politics, and neutrality (1919–1945)


  • 10.45–11.15 Geert Somsen, Science in the New Order/Neuordnung/Nuovo Ordine/Novus Ordo: German-Italian relationships as reflected in the 1942 Rome exhibit Scienza Universale
  • 11.15–11.45 Helke Rausch, Sympathy with the Devil? American support for German science after 1933
  • 11.45–12.15 Annika Berg, A most popular destination: Nazi Germany as portrayed in Swedish medical travel reports


  • 1.00–1.30 Maria Zarifi, Devoted and refrained loyalties: The medical community in Greece during the time of German National Socialism
  • 1.30–2.00 Pascal Germann, The politics of “neutral” science: Swiss geneticists and their relations to Nazi Germany
  • 2.00–2.30 Per Lundin, Swedish-German  networks  among  agricultural  academics  during  the  Interwar  period  and World War II
  • 2.30–3.00 Cláudia Ninhos, German-Portuguese scientific networks in agronomy and plant breeding research


  • 3.30–4.00 Marcus Wien, Transfer of technology and ideology: The role of German know-how and the Nazi agrarian ideology in the Bulgarian model farm program “Obrastsovo Selo” (1937–1944)
  • 4.00–4.30 Swen Steinberg, “Nazis in the Woodpile”: The exchange of German and US foresters between knowledge and ideology (1934–1938)        
  • 4.30–5.00 Matthias Berg, Changing positions: German  historiography  and  the  International  Committee  of  Historical Sciences, 1933–1945
  • 5.00–5.30 Fabian Link, Großraum Europa and the Medieval Germanic Reich: Hektor Ammann, Swiss neutrality, and the völkisch idea of the Middle Ages
  • 5.30–6.00 Grzegorz Krzywiec, Between public engagement and political division: The curious case of the Polish intellectual Tadeusz Zieliński

7 dinner

Friday, December 9

  • 9.00–9.45 Susanne Heim, key note, On the structural conditions of scientific amorality
  • 9.45–10.15 Karl Christian Lammers, The Danish Germanist Carl Roos
  • 10.15–10.45 Johannes Dafinger, “Pro-German” intellectuals and the German bilateral friendship societies


  • 11.00–11.30 Tim Kirk, Was there an emergent Axis intelligentsia? Intellectuals, cultural workers and the press in south-eastern Europe 1938–1945
  • 11.30–12.00 Daniel Knegt, “Putting an end to the old French-German hatred”: French Europeanist intellectuals between pacifism, fascism and collaboration


  • 12.45–1.15 Matthew Kott & Terje Emberland, Himmler’s soft power: Transnational networking and SS foreign policy in Northern Europe
  • 1.15–1.45 Marco Nase, Building networks abroad: German support for pro-German academics in Sweden
  • 1.45–2.15 Michael Wedekind, German and Italian scholars between collaboration and controversy: Spatial planning and socio-ethnic reeorganization in a common sphere of interest
  • 2.15–2.45 Ben Martin, International legal cooperation in the Nazi-Fascist New Order


  • 3.15–3.45 Marició (Maria) Janué, Spain’s national character and Hispanidad in Nazi Germany
  • 3.45–4.15 André Felipe Cândido da Silva, German cultural policy during the National-Socialism in Brazil and intellectual networks involving both countries (1933–1942)
  • 4.15–4.45 Hans Joachim Bieber, Some remarks on cultural relations between Germany and Japan 1933–1945
  • 4.45–5.00 Closing remarks
Key-Note Speakers

Venue and Practical Information


The symposium venue is the main lecture hall in the historic university building Gustavianum, which also hosts a university museum and a well preserved 17th-century anatomical theatre.

Information about Gustavianum including location (link to map hidden at the bottom of the page).

Practical Information

Registration will be late afternoon or early evening on December 7 and in the morning on December 8. The symposium will start at 9.00 a.m. on December 8 and end in the afternoon the following day. The exact schedule will be published here in good time before the symposium.

Please note that each paper will be 30 minutes, including discussion. The conference language is English.

Symposium participation includes two lunches, one dinner, and two nights’ accommodation. Information about accommodation will be provided later. Participants who want to stay longer than two nights should make arrangements with the hotel in good time before the symposium.


The symposium is arranged by the Department of History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University. It is organized as part of the research project "Brown Networks", financed by Marianne and Marcs Wallenbergs stiftelse and has received generous support from the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and the Department for History of Science and Ideas.

The organizing committee is:

Questions should be addressed to symposium coordinator Sebastian Hoas, or organizer Sven Widmalm.