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Fifty years of physica status solidi in historical perspective


  • This paper was supposed to appear for the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of physica status solidi. Various burdens on the author and the unsurveyable state of the sources prevented its timely completion, however. As a consequence it is appearing now in the 250th jubilee volume of pss, now pss(b).


physica status solidi (pss) was launched in 1961 by the (East-)Berlin physicist Karl Wolfgang Böer. Böer's initiative reflected the shortages of the rapidly expanding research in solid state physics, in particular the lack of specific journals in the field and a dedicated venue for a timely publication. The journal suffered a setback – shortly after the publication of its first issue in summer 1961 – when the Berlin Wall went up. However, pss survived the political cataclysm and became one of the leading journals in the field, in particular as a forum of scientific exchange between East and West. It also played the role of a showcase of East Germany's (GDR) physics research, cherished by the authorities for enhancing the prestige of the state and for earning hard currency. In these respects pss surpassed by far any other scientific journal published during the GDR era. During the period of the political turmoil in 1989/1990, pss went through another existential crisis. Nevertheless, thanks to a thorough overhaul, the journal prevailed and solidified its international stature yet again. pss can thus be regarded as a success story since more than fifty years, one whose first three decades were influenced by the general circumstances of the Cold War.