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Prof. Dr. Helmut Coper, Founding Student of Freie Universität Berlin, Passed Away

Longtime Director of the Institute of Neuropsychopharmacology Was 87

№ 259/2013 from Sep 09, 2013

Professor Dr. Helmut Coper, one of the founding students of Freie Universität Berlin, passed away on August 30, 2013, at the age of 87. Helmut Coper was born on December 30, 1925, and was a staunch supporter of Freie Universität ever since its founding in 1948. Officially he was the second student to enroll at the university and in later years, he was an honorary member of the Ernst Reuter Association of Friends, Supporters, and Alumni of Freie Universität Berlin.

After World War II Helmut Coper started studying medicine at Universität unter den Linden, as the main university in Berlin was called at the time. Located in the eastern sector of the occupied city, the university increasingly came under ideological pressure from the Communist leadership. After three students who were critical of the political system were expelled, Coper and numerous other students and faculty worked to establish a free university in the western sectors. They wanted to be able to learn, teach, and conduct research without being subjected to political influence. With support from the American Allies and numerous Berlin politicians, Freie Universität was founded on December 4, 1948, during the Berlin Blockade.

Helmut Coper was the first elected chairperson of the general student council (AStA) of Freie Universität Berlin. In 1967, after earning his doctoral degree and habilitation in pharmacology, Coper was named director of the Institute of Neuropsychopharmacology, a position he held until his retirement in 1994. He was the first person in Germany to hold a chair in neuropsychopharmacology. Coper’s research focused on gerontology and addiction. The Polish Academy of Sciences honored Coper for his contributions to the reconciliation between Germany and Poland.