Emigrants returned to Germany after the war and taught at the newly founded university. Scientific inspiration and financial support from the United States helped it to overcome difficult initial circumstances during the blockade of Berlin. During the decades following the partition of Germany, Freie Universität's international links, which grew to include eastern Europe and Asia, counteracted the threat of isolation caused by Berlin's geopolitical position.
One of the Academic Senate's first acts in the winter semester of 1948-49 was to set up a commission to deal with external contacts. This was the precursor of today's Division of International Affairs and was run for many years by Horst W. Hartwich, who as a student had helped found Freie Universität. This commission invited renowned teaching staff from West Germany and abroad, who contributed significantly to the reputation of the newly founded Freie Universität. Not only did the proportion of foreign students here grow steadily, but so did the number of those from Berlin who spent a semester at a university in another country.