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Memoirs of Founding Student Helmut Coper

Reading and Discussion on January 29 at 5 p.m. in Henry Ford Building of Freie Universität Berlin

№ 008/2015 from Jan 16, 2015

On Thursday, January 29, there will be a reading from the memoirs of Helmut Coper, one of the founding students of Freie Universität Berlin. It will take place in the Henry Ford Building of Freie Universität. Helmut Coper enrolled at Freie Universität in 1948, when the university was founded during the Berlin Blockade. He was officially the second student to enroll. As the first elected chairperson of the General Student Committee, Coper was involved in building up the university from the start, and he maintained lifelong connections with the university. In 1967 he was appointed a professor and was later the director of the Institute of Neuropsychopharmacology. In 2013 Coper passed away at the age of 87. The reading will take place within the context of a conversation with several individuals with long-standing relations to the university.

Zachor is the Hebrew word for "remember." The concept urges people to retain memories of certain important things for future generations. Zachor was a lifelong theme for Coper, and he told the story of his life based on the central event in his life, the founding of Freie Universität Berlin. After Coper’s death his wife Ingrid Coper completed the work on the book. It was published by BibSpider.

The event will be attended by Prof. Dr. Stanislaw Karol Kubicki, the first student who officially enrolled at Freie Universität. Passages from Coper’s memoirs will be read by the Austrian actor, Wolfgang Unterzaucher. The reading will take place as part of an informal panel discussion. The discussants are:

Paul Nolte (moderator) was born 1963. He is a professor of modern history with a focus on contemporary history at Freie Universität Berlin and the president of the Evangelische Akademie. He has published numerous essays as well as books including Generation Reform and Was ist Demokratie? (What Is Democracy?).

Gesine Schwan was born in 1943. She was a professor of political science at Freie Universität Berlin and from 1999 to 2008 the president of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). In 2004 and 2009 she was a candidate for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Winfried Fluck was born in 1944. He majored in German, English, and American studies at Freie Universität, Harvard University, and the University of California at Berkeley from 1963 to 1970. In 1989 he was appointed a professor of American culture at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.

Günter Baron was born in 1938. He started working at the University Library of Freie Universität in 1964. In 1969 he was appointed head of a department and later became the deputy director of the library. In 1979 he joined the Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage, where he was the permanent representative of the director-general for 22 years. During his tenure there he was very involved in the consolidation of the two national libraries of Berlin after German re-unification in 1990.

Time and Location

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015, 5 p.m.; reception to follow
  • Henry Ford Building, Freie Universität Berlin, Goethestraße 49, 14163 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3)

Further Information and Sign Up

RSVP by January 25 to Freie Universität Berlin, Office of News and Public Affairs, Tel.: +49 30 838-73180, Email:, Subject Line: Lesung aus den Erinnerungen von Helmut Coper.