Collaborations between Israel and Germany in Chemistry and the Other Sciences - A Sign of Normalization?

Ute Deichmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The scientific collaboration between Israel and Germany was not initiated, as commonly believed, by the Max Planck Society or by German scientists who wanted to revive collaboration with their former Jewish colleagues. Rather, it was initiated in the mid-1950s by two Israeli scientists from the Weizmann Institute and a German scientist at the time at CERN in violation of the widely accepted cultural boycott by Israel against Germany. The initiators succeeded in procuring political support; large-scale collaboration between the Weizmann Institute, German universities, and the Max Planck Society was developed. In the aftermath of the Second World War, German science suffered from the Nazi expulsion of Jewish scientists and partial international isolation; the collaboration with Israel enabled young German scientists to overcome this isolation and benefit from stimulating Israeli research environments. In times of economic hardship, the collaboration helped Israeli science materially, provided contacts to chemical industry, and strengthened the cooperation between Israeli and European science. The collaboration was built, in part, on postwar myths created by German scientists and the Max Planck Society about their former anti-Nazi attitudes. Despite the difficult beginnings and some hidden political agendas, the collaboration developed very successfully. Germany became Israel's second most important partner in the scientific field, after the USA. Today, normalcy prevails in many - though not all - of the Israeli-German collaborative projects; the past is not forgotten, but science is in the fore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1218
Number of pages38
JournalIsrael Journal of Chemistry
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Israel-Germany cooperation
  • boycott
  • history of science
  • scientific collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)


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