Whether in science or in international politics, neutrality has sometimes been promoted, not only as a viable political alternative but as a lofty ideal – in politics by nations proclaiming their peacefulness, in science as an underpinning of epistemology, in journalism and other intellectual pursuits as a foundation of a professional ethos. Time and again scientists and other intellectuals have claimed their endeavors to be neutral, elevated above the world of partisan conflict and power politics. This volume studies the resonances between neutrality in science and culture and neutrality in politics. By analyzing the activities of scientists, intellectuals, and politicians (sometimes overlapping categories) of mostly neutral nations in the First World War and after, it traces how an ideology of neutralism was developed that soon was embraced by international organizations.

This book explores how the notion of neutrality has been used and how a neutralist discourse developed in history. None of the contributions take claims of neutrality at face value – some even show how they were made to advance partisan interests. The concept was typically clustered with notions, such as peace, internationalism, objectivity, rationality, and civilization. But its meaning was changeable – varying with professional, ideological, or national context. As such, Neutrality in Twentieth-Century Europe presents a different perspective on the century than the story of the great belligerent powers, and one in which science, culture, and politics are inextricably mixed.

chapter 1|15 pages


ByRebecka Lettevall, Geert Somsen, Sven Widmalm

part I|26 pages

Points of Departure

chapter 2|24 pages

Probing the Master Narrative of Scientific Internationalism

Nationals and Neutrals in the 1920s
ByBrigitte Schroeder-Gudehus

part II|135 pages

International Collaborations

chapter 3|20 pages

“Holland's Calling”

Dutch Scientists' Self-fashioning as International Mediators
ByGeert Somsen

chapter 4|25 pages

“A superior type of universal civilisation”

Science as Politics in Sweden, 1917–1926
BySven Widmalm

chapter 5|25 pages

“Has the Swedish Academy of Sciences … seen nothing, heard nothing, and understood nothing?”

The First World War, Biased Neutrality, and the Nobel Prizes in Science
ByRobert Marc Friedman

chapter 6|25 pages

Pursuing Common Cultural Ideals

Niels Bohr, Neutrality, and International Scientific Collaboration during the Interwar Period
ByHenrik Knudsen, Henry Nielsen

chapter 7|19 pages

Caught-up by Politics?

The Solvay Councils on Physics and the Trials of Neutrality
ByKenneth Bertrams

chapter 8|19 pages

The Scientific Construction of Swiss Neutrality

ByDaniel Speich Chassé

part III|92 pages

Intellectual Positions

chapter 9|26 pages

A Castle in the Center

The First Czechoslovak Republic and European Cooperation, 1918–1938
ByCarlos Reijnen

chapter 10|19 pages

Prague Zionism, the Czechoslovak State, and the Rise of German National Socialism

The Figure of Max Brod, 1914–1933
ByGaëlle Vassogne

chapter 11|17 pages

Legitimacy through Neutrality

Resources of Journalism in the International Press Visit to Sweden in 1923
ByPatrik Lundell

chapter 12|28 pages

Of Twins and Time

Scientists, Intellectual Cooperation, and the League of Nations
ByJimena Canales

part IV|66 pages

Political Visions

chapter 13|22 pages

Eye-deep in Hell

Heinrich Lammasch, the Confederation of Neutral States, and Austrian Neutrality, 1899–1920
ByGeorg Cavallar

chapter 14|21 pages

Nobel Science of Peace

Norwegian Neutrality, Internationalism, and the Nobel Peace Prize
ByVidar Enebakk

chapter 15|21 pages

Neutrality and Humanitarianism

Fridtjof Nansen and the Nansen Passports
ByRebecka Lettevall