Portrait of Dr Charlie Hall

Dr Charlie Hall

Lecturer in Modern European History

About

Dr Charlie Hall graduated from the University of Kent in 2012 with a BA in History, which he immediately followed up with an MA (Research) in Modern History, also at Kent. In January 2017 he completed his PhD within the School of History, with a thesis on the British exploitation of science and technology in occupied Germany after the Second World War.

He now works as an Associate Lecturer in the School, as well as Research Administrator on an AHRC project, ‘Beyond the Spectacle: Native North American Presence in Britain’.

Research interests

Charlie’s research centres on military technology and the diplomatic, political, social and cultural contexts in which it exists. He is also interested in the transnational movement of ideas and individuals, and in the aftermath of conflict.

His first book, British Exploitation of German Science and Technology, 1943-1949 (Routledge, 2019), explores how Britain made use of Nazi equipment and expertise after the Second World War, and the wider ramifications which this had. In this connection, he has also written about the British control of German science during the post-war occupation and the competition between Britain and the Soviet Union for the ‘scientific spoils of war’.

His current research is developing in two separate but complementary strands. Firstly, he is examining the V-2 rocket and the dawn of the missile age in Britain, and the ways in which this new technology influenced thinking about warfare, exploration and the human future, in Britain, Europe and the United States, from 1940 to the present day.

Secondly, he is interested in the sites where secret military research was conducted in Britain during the Cold War and how the unique nature of these facilities shaped the communities that existed around them.

Teaching

Charlie teaches on a broad range of subjects across modern British, European and international history, including Britain during the Second World War, 20th-century Germany and Russia, and the United Nations.    

Professional

Charlie is reviews editor for ‘Munitions of the Mind’ (the blog of the Centre for the History of War, Media and Society). He is also Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Publications

Article

  • Hall, C. (2019). ‘The Other End of a Trajectory’: Operation Backfire and the German Origins of Britain’s Ballistic Missile Programme. The International History Review [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2019.1690026.
    The ballistic missile age dawned in September 1944, when Nazi Germany began its V-2 campaign against Britain and Western Europe. One year later, in October 1945, the British launched a V-2 rocket themselves, as the culmination of Operation Backfire. This article will chart Britain’s development of a guided missile capacity in the years immediately following the Second World War, and the importance of German expertise therein. It will also explore how this transnational process occurred within a broader international context, especially the reconfiguration of the Anglo-American relationship and the growing threat of the Soviet Union. As such it will show how swiftly the Cold War arms race emerged from the ashes of the previous conflict, how technology and international relations are intimately entwined, and how Britain was an active and enthusiastic participant in the very earliest days of the missile age.
  • Hall, C. (2019). A Completely Open Race: Anglo-Soviet Competition over German Military Science and Technology, 1944-1949. War in History [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344519832906.
    In the period immediately following the Second World War, during which Germany was occupied by the four victorious Allies, fierce competition erupted between them over the spoils of German military science and technology. Among this four-power squabbling, the British and Soviet authorities engaged in a particularly desperate struggle, especially over recruitment of expert German personnel, which they felt might give them the edge in any future conflict. This article explores the policies which arose from this struggle and shows that the first act of the Cold War arms race played out most vividly amongst the ruins of the Third Reich.
  • Hall, C. (2019). Pushed into Pragmatism: British Approaches to Science in Post-War Occupied Germany. The International History Review [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2017.1420673.
    One of the most important dilemmas facing the British authorities when they occupied their zone of Germany at the end of the Second World War was what to do with German science. The contributions made by scientists and engineers to the Nazi war machine, in fields such as rocketry and submarines, meant that German science was both revered and feared, and was therefore closely linked to concerns about a post-war military resurgence in Germany. This article aims to chart the changing approaches which the British occupation officials adopted towards German science in this period. While the initial intention was to prevent Germany from ever waging war again, through demilitarisation, denazification and dismantling, the focus changed as British enmity shifted from a former adversary, Germany, to a former ally, the Soviet Union. Policy reflected this shift as technology transfer and the reconstruction of domestic German science won greater favour. This article aims to show that, in the face of growing hostility from the USSR and in the deeply suspicious climate of the early Cold War, Britain was forced to abandon its moral mission towards German science and adopt a far more pragmatic strategy instead.

Book

  • Hall, C. (2019). British Exploitation of German Science and Technology, 1943-1949. [Online]. Routledge. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351122559.
    At the end of the Second World War, Germany lay at the mercy of its occupiers, all of whom launched programmes of scientific and technological exploitation. Each occupying nation sought to bolster their own armouries and industries with the spoils of war, and Britain was no exception. Shrouded in secrecy yet directed at the top levels of government and driven by ingenuity from across the civil service and armed forces, Britain made exploitation a key priority. By examining factories and laboratories, confiscating prototypes and blueprints, and interrogating and even recruiting German experts, Britain sought to utilise the innovations of the last war to prepare for the next. This ground-breaking book tells the full story of British exploitation for the first time, sheds new light on the legacies of the Second World War, and contributes to histories of intelligence, science, warfare and power in the midst of the twentieth century.

Review

  • Hall, C. (2019). Transforming Occupation in the Western Zones of Germany: Politics, Everyday Life and Social Interactions, 1945–55. German History [Online] 37:134-136. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/gerhis/ghy113.
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