Thomas Murphy - German exploration of the polar world. A
German Exploration of the Polar World is the exciting
story of the generations of German polar explorers who braved
the perils of the Arctic and Antarctic for themselves and
their country. Such intrepid adventurers as Wilhelm Filchner,
Erich von Drygalski, and Alfred Wegener are not as well
known today as Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, Ernest
Shackleton, Robert E. Peary, or Richard E. Byrd, but their
bravery and the hardships they faced were equal to those
of the more famous polar explorers.
In the half-century prior to World War II, the poles were
the last blank spaces on the global map, and they exerted
a tremendous pull on national imaginations. Under successive
political regimes, the Germans threw themselves into the
race for polar glory with an ardor that matched their better-known
counterparts bearing English, American, and Norwegian flags.
German polar explorers were driven, like their rivals, by
a complex web of interlocking motivations. Personal fame,
the romance of the unknown, and the advancement of science
were important considerations, but public pressure, political
and military concerns, and visions of immense, untapped
wealth at the poles also spurred the explorers.
As historian David Thomas Murphy shows, Germany's repeated
encounters with the polar world left an indelible impression
upon the German public, government, and scientific community.
Reports on the polar landscape, flora, and fauna enhanced
Germany's appreciation of the global environment. Accounts
of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic, accurate or fantastic,
permanently shaped German notions of culture and civilization.
The final, failed attempt by the Nazis to extend German
political power to the earth's ends revealed the limits
of any country's ability to reshape the globe politically
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