Great Architecture and Chemists in Dahlem

Author: Vera Koester

The video shows a walking tour through the district of Berlin Dahlem and a tour through the history of chemistry.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the parcelling of Dahlem began. According to the intentions of the planners, not only a quiet exclusive residential disctrict but also a cosmopolitan city of science should emerge. This double claim, filled with life in the course of history, still exists today.

Important for this development was the proposal of Adolf Harnack, a theology professor in Berlin and close advisor to the Kaiser. To reform the German science system and prepare for industrialization, he wanted to establish independent research institutes to exist alongside the universities, focusing on specialized basic research and proposed the foundation of a new type of research association: The Kaiser Wilhelm Society, which was founded in 1911. In 1912, the first institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society moved into their own buildings in Berlin-Dahlem. Each institute was under the guidance of a prominent director such as Peter Debye, Fritz Haber, and Otto Hahn.

At the end of World War II, a new research society, the Max Planck Society, was established in the British zone and took over the properties and staff of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society.

  • The video is based on a walking tour created by Gerd Giesler, Berlin, Germany.
  • Eckart Henning und Marion Kazemi, Dahlem –Domäne der Wissenschaft. Ein Spaziergang zu den Berliner Instituten der Kaiser-Wilhelm/Max-Planck-Gesellschaft im „deutschen Oxford“, Archiv der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin 2009.



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