The Extraordinary History of a "German Oxford"
During the early twentieth century, Dahlem developed into a leading center of scientific research.
Apr 29, 2011
At the initiative of the Prussian Under-Secretary of Cultural Affairs Friedrich Althoff, a unique neighborhood of research institutes sprang up rapidly outside the city on crown property in Dahlem at the beginning of the 19th century. Among the first to establish themselves there were government scientific agencies, along with two new institutes of the University of Berlin that occupied new buildings near the Botanical Garden.
The development of Althoff's plans for a "German Oxford" was taken on by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, founded in 1911. It commissioned a number of impressive new buildings to house its various institutes, which were predominantly concerned with scientific research. Thus a dynamic scientific community was born, doing ground-breaking work that was recognized with several Nobel Prizes. After the Nazis seized power in 1933, however, several of the institutes carried out projects in support of the régime's war aims and racial ideology.
In 1948 Freie Universität took over several buildings of former Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes from the newly founded Max Planck Society, which after World War II became the successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. In particular, the building at Boltzmannstraße 3 became the main building of the newly founded Freie Universität.