Humboldt University of Berlin

Humboldt University of Berlin

October 12, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


The Humboldt University of Berlin is one of
Berlin’s oldest universities, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal
Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model
has strongly influenced other European and Western universities. From 1828 it was known
as the Frederick William University, and later also as the Universität unter den Linden
after its location. In 1949, it changed its name to Humboldt-Universität in honour of
both its founder Wilhelm and his brother, geographer Alexander von Humboldt. In 2012,
the Humboldt University of Berlin was one of eleven German universities to win in the
German Universities Excellence Initiative, a national competition for universities organized
by the German Federal Government. The university has educated 29 nobel prize winners and is
considered one of the most prestigious universities in Europe overall as well as one of the most
prestigious universities worldwide for arts and humanities. History The first semester at the newly founded Berlin
university occurred in 1810 with 256 students and 52 lecturers in faculties of law, medicine,
theology and philosophy under rector Theodor Schmalz. The university has been home to many
of Germany’s greatest thinkers of the past two centuries, among them the subjective idealist
philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, the absolute idealist
philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, the Romantic legal theorist Friedrich Carl von Savigny, the pessimist
philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, the objective idealist philosopher Friedrich Schelling,
cultural critic Walter Benjamin, and famous physicists Albert Einstein and Max Planck.
Founders of Marxist theory Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels attended the university, as did poet
Heinrich Heine, novelist Alfred Döblin, founder of structuralism Ferdinand de Saussure, German
unifier Otto von Bismarck, Communist Party of Germany founder Karl Liebknecht, African
American Pan Africanist W. E. B. Du Bois and European unifier Robert Schuman, as well as
the influential surgeon Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach in the early half of the 1800s. The university
is home to 29 Nobel Prize winners. The structure of German research-intensive
universities, such as Humboldt, served as a model for institutions like Johns Hopkins
University. Further, it has been claimed that “the ‘Humboldtian’ university became a model
for the rest of Europe […] with its central principle being the union of teaching and
research in the work of the individual scholar or scientist.”
Enlargement In addition to the strong anchoring of traditional
subjects, such as science, law, philosophy, history, theology and medicine, Berlin University
developed to encompass numerous new scientific disciplines. Alexander von Humboldt, brother
of the founder William, promoted the new learning. With the construction of modern research facilities
in the second half of the 19th Century teaching of the natural sciences began. Famous researchers,
such as the chemist August Wilhelm Hofmann, the physicist Hermann von Helmholtz, the mathematicians
Ernst Eduard Kummer, Leopold Kronecker, Karl Weierstrass, the physicians Johannes Peter
Müller, Albrecht von Graefe, Rudolf Virchow and Robert Koch, contributed to Berlin University’s
scientific fame. During this period of enlargement, Berlin
University gradually expanded to incorporate other previously separate colleges in Berlin.
An example would be the Charité, the Pépinière and the Collegium Medico-chirurgicum. In 1717,
King Friedrich I had built a quarantine house for Plague at the city gates, which in 1727
was rechristened by the “soldier king” Friedrich Wilhelm: “Es soll das Haus die Charité heißen”.
By 1829 the site became Berlin University’s medical campus and remained so until 1927
when the more modern University Hospital was constructed.
Berlin University started a natural history collection in 1810, which, by 1889 required
a separate building and became the Museum für Naturkunde. The preexisting Tierarznei
School, founded in 1790 and absorbed by the university, in 1934 formed the basis of the
Veterinary Medicine Facility. Also the Landwirtschaftliche Hochschule Berlin, founded in 1881 was affiliated
with the Agricultural Faculties of the University. Third Reich After 1933, like all German universities,
it was affected by the Nazi regime. The rector during this period was Eugen Fischer. It was
from the university’s library that some 20,000 books by “degenerates” and opponents of the
regime were taken to be burned on May 10 of that year in the Opernplatz for a demonstration
protected by the SA that also featured a speech by Joseph Goebbels. A monument to this can
now be found in the center of the square, consisting of a glass panel opening onto an
underground white room with empty shelf space for 20,000 volumes and a plaque, bearing an
epigraph from an 1820 work by Heinrich Heine: “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher
verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen”. The Law for the Restoration of the Professional
Civil Service resulted in 250 Jewish professors and employees being fired during 1933/1934
and numerous doctorates being withdrawn. Students and scholars and political opponents of Nazis
were ejected from the university and often deported. During this time nearly one third
of all of the staff were fired by the Nazis. Reopening The Soviet Military Administration in Germany
ordered the opening of the university in January 1946. The SMAD wanted a redesigned Berlin
University based on the Soviet model, however they insisted on the phrasing “newly opened”
and not “re-opened” for political reasons. The president of the German Central Administration
for National Education, Paul Wandel, in his address at the January 29, 1946, opening ceremony,
said: “I spoke of the opening, and not of the re-opening of the university. […] The
University of Berlin must effectively start again in almost every way. You have before
you this image of the old university. What remains of that is nought but ruins.” The
teaching was limited to seven departments working in reopened, war-damaged buildings,
with many of the teachers dead or missing. However, by the winter semester of 1946, the
Economic and Educational Sciences Faculty had re-opened.
The Workers and Peasants Faculty, an education program aimed at young men who, due to political
or racial reasons, had been disadvantaged under the Nazis, was established at the university
during this time. This program existed at Berlin University until 1962.
Splitting of the university The East-West conflict in post-war Germany
led to a growing communist influence in the university. This was controversial, and incited
strong protests within the student body and faculty. Soviet NKVD secret police arrested
a number of students in March 1947 as a response. The Soviet Military Tribunal in Berlin-Lichtenberg
ruled the students were involved in the formation of a “resistance movement at the University
of Berlin”, as well as espionage, and were sentenced to 25 years of forced labor. From
1945 to 1948, 18 other students and teachers were arrested or abducted, many gone for weeks,
and some taken to the Soviet Union and executed. In the spring of 1948, after several university
students with admission irregularities were withdrawn, the opposition demanded a “free”
university. Students and scholars, with support from especially the Americans, the newspaper
Der Tagesspiegel, and the governing Mayor Ernst Reuter founded the Free University of
Berlin in Dahlem. The decades-long division of the city into East and West Berlin finally
cemented the division into two independent universities permanently.
East Germany Since the old name of the university had some
monarchic origins the university was renamed. Although the Soviets and the government of
East-Berlin preferred a naming after some communistic leader the university was in the
end named after the two Humboldt brothers. Independent research and teaching was not
longer possible instead the academic staff was replaced by communists to get the education
system in line with the ruling ideology. Nevertheless, it was still possible in some areas to restore
international contacts and create world-wide cooperation. The long-standing and intensive
research and exchange links with the universities in Eastern Europe and particularly in the
former Soviet Union are worth special mentioning; many of these links are without parallel in
Germany. In addition, formal academic cooperation with nearly all universities in the capital
cities of Western Europe has existed since the 1970s. And for several years there have
been close relations to universities in Japan and the United States, as well as in Asian,
African and Latin American countries. Until the collapse of the East German regime in
1989, Humboldt University remained under tight ideological control of the Sozialistische
Einheitspartei Deutschlands, or SED, which, by rigorously selecting students according
to their conformity to the party line, made sure that no democratic opposition could grow
on its university campuses. Its communist-selected students and scholars did not participate
to any significant degree in the East German democratic civil rights movements of 1989,
and elected the controversial SED member and former Stasi spy Heinrich Fink as the Rector
of the university as late as 1990. Today After the unification of East and West Germany,
the university was radically restructured and all professors had to reapply for their
positions. The faculty was largely replaced with West German professors, among them the
historian Heinrich August Winkler. Today, Humboldt University is a state university
with a large number of students after the model of West German universities, and like
its counterpart the Free University of Berlin. The university consists of three different
campuses namely Campus Mitte, Campus Nord and Campus Adlershof. Its main building is
located in the centre of Berlin at the boulevard Unter den Linden and is the heart of Campus
Mitte. The building was erected on order by King Frederick II for his younger brother
Prince Henry of Prussia. All the institutes of humanities are located around the main
building together with the Department of Law and the Department of Business and Economics.
Campus Nord is located north of the main building close to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and is the home
of the life science departments including the university medical center Charité. The
natural science together with computer science and mathematics are located at Campus Adlershof
in the south-east of Berlin. Furthermore, the university continues its tradition of
a book sale at the university gates facing Bebelplatz.
Library When the Royal Library proved insufficient,
a new library was founded in 1831, first located in several temporary sites. In 1871–1874
a library building was constructed, following the design of architect Paul Emanuel Spieker.
In 1910 the collection was relocated to the building of the Berlin State Library.
During the Weimar Period the library contained 831,934 volumes and was thus one of the leading
university libraries in Germany at that time. During the Nazi book burnings in 1933, no
volumes from the university library were destroyed. Also, the loss through World War II was comparatively
small. In 2003, natural science related books were outhoused to the newly founded library
at the Adlershof campus, which is dedicated solely to the natural sciences.
Since the premises of the State Library had to be cleared in 2005, a new library building
is about to be erected close to the main building in the center of Berlin. The “Jacob und Wilhelm
Grimm-Zentrum” opened in 2009. In total, the university library contains
about 6.5 million volumes and 9000 held magazines and journals and is one of the biggest university
libraries in Germany. The books of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft
were destroyed during the Nazi book burnings and the institute destroyed. Under the terms
of the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, the government had undertaken to continue the work of the
institute at the university after its founder’s death. However these terms were ignored. In
2001 however the university acquired the Archive for Sexology from the Robert Koch Institute,
which was founded on a large private library donated by Erwin J. Haeberle. This has now
been housed at the new Magnus Hirschfeld Center. Notable alumni, professors and lecturers Theodore Dyke Acland, surgeon and physician
Alexander Altmann, rabbi and scholar of Jewish philosophy and mysticism
Gerhard Anschütz leading jurisprudent and “father of the constitution” of the Bundesland
Hesse Michelle Bachelet, pediatrician and epidemiologist,
president of the Republic of Chile Azmi Bishara, Arab-Israeli politician
Bruno Bauer, theologian, Bible critic and philosopher
Jurek Becker, writer Eliezer Berkovits, rabbi, philosopher and
theologian Otto von Bismarck, first German chancellor
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian and resistance fighter
Max Born, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics in 1954
Gottlieb Burckhardt, psychiatrist, first physician to perform modern psychosurgery
Michael C. Burda, macroeconomist George C. Butte, American jurist
Stepan Shahumyan, communist politician and head of the Baku Commune
Ezriel Carlebach, Israeli journalist and editorial writer
Ernst Cassirer, philosopher Adelbert von Chamisso, natural scientist and
writer Angela Davis, political activist, educator,
author, philosopher Zakir Hussain, third president of India
Harilal Dhruv, Indian lawyer, poet, indologist Wilhelm Dilthey, philosopher
W. E. B. Du Bois, African-American activist and scholar
Paul Ehrlich, physician, Nobel Prize for medicine in 1908
Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics in 1921
Friedrich Engels, journalist and philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, philosopher
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, philosopher, rector of the university
Hermann Emil Fischer, founder of modern biochemistry, Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1902
Werner Forßmann, physician, Nobel Prize for medicine in 1956
James Franck, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics in 1925
Ernst Gehrcke, experimental physicist Jacob Grimm, linguist and literary critic
Wilhelm Grimm, linguist and literary critic Gregor Gysi, German politician and lawyer
Fritz Haber, chemist, Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1918
Otto Hahn, chemist, Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1944
Sir William Reginald Halliday, principal of King’s College London
Robert Havemann, chemist, co-founder of European Union, and leading GDR dissident
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher Heinrich Heine, writer and poet
Werner Heisenberg, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics in 1932
Hermann von Helmholtz, physician and physicist Gustav Hertz, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics
in 1925 Heinrich Hertz, physicist
Abraham Joshua Heschel rabbi, philosopher, and theologian
Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff, chemist, Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1901
Max Huber, international lawyer and diplomat Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, founder of macrobiotics
Wilhelm von Humboldt, politician, linguist, and founder of the university
Alexander von Humboldt, natural scientist Sadi Irmak, Prime minister of Turkey
Hermann Kasack, writer George F. Kennan, American diplomat, political
scientist and historian Gustav Kirchhoff, physicist
Robert Koch, physician, Nobel Prize for medicine in 1905
Komitas, Armenian musician Albrecht Kossel, physician, Nobel Prize for
medicine in 1910 Arnold Kutzinski, psychiatrist
Arnold von Lasaulx mineralogist and petrographer Max von Laue, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics
in 1914 Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Israeli public intellectual
and polymath Wassily Leontief, economist, Nobel Prize for
economics in 1973 Karl Liebknecht, socialist politician and
revolutionary Friedrich Loeffler, bacteriologist
Ram Manohar Lohia, Indian activist and politician Karl Adolf Lorenz, composer
Herbert Marcuse, philosopher Karl Marx, philosopher
Ernst Mayr, biologist Lise Meitner, physicist, Enrico Fermi Award
in 1966 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, composer
Theodor Mommsen, historian, Nobel Prize for literature in 1902
Edmund Montgomery, philosopher, scientist, physician
John von Neumann, mathematician and physicist Max Planck, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics
in 1918 Leopold von Ranke, historian
Erich Regener, physicist Robert Remak, cell biologist
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, philosopher Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, philosopher
Bernhard Schlink, writer, Der Vorleser Carl Schmitt, German jurist, political theorist,
and professor of law. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, rabbi, philosopher,
and theologian Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher
Erwin Schrödinger, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics in 1933
Peter Schubert, diplomat and albanologist Georg Simmel, philosopher and sociologist
Joseph B. Soloveitchik, rabbi, philosopher, and theologian
Herman Smith-Johannsen, sportsman who introduced cross-country skiing to North America
Werner Sombart, philosopher, sociologist and economist
Hans Spemann, biologist, Nobel Prize for biology in 1935
Hermann Stieve, anatomist who did research on bodies of Nazi execution victims
Max Stirner, philosopher Yemima Tchernovitz-Avidar, Israeli author
Gustav Tornier, paleontologist and zoologist Kurt Tucholsky, writer and journalist
Komitas Vardapet, Armenian priest, composer, choir leader, singer, music ethnologist, music
pedagogue and musicologist Rudolf Virchow, physician and politician
Alfred Wegener, scientist, geologist, and meteorologist, early theorist of continental
drift Karl Weierstraß, mathematician
Max Westenhöfer, pathologist, proposed the Aquatic ape hypothesis, reformer of field
of pathology in Chile Wilhelm Heinrich Westphal, physicist
Wilhelm Wien, physicist, Nobel Prize for physics in 1911
Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, philologist Richard Willstätter, chemist, Nobel Prize
for chemistry in 1915 There are 40 Nobel Prize winners affiliated
to the Humboldt University, namely: 1901 Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff
1901 Emil Adolf von Behring 1902 Hermann Emil Fischer
1902 Theodor Mommsen 1905 Adolf von Baeyer
1905 Robert Koch 1907 Albert Abraham Michelson
1907 Eduard Buchner 1908 Paul Ehrlich
1909 Karl Ferdinand Braun 1910 Otto Wallach
1910 Albrecht Kossel 1910 Paul Heyse
1911 Wilhelm Wien 1914 Max von Laue
1915 Richard Willstätter 1918 Fritz Haber
1918 Max Planck 1920 Walther Nernst
1921 Albert Einstein 1925 Gustav Ludwig Hertz
1925 James Franck 1925 Richard Adolf Zsigmondy
1928 Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus 1929 Hans von Euler-Chelpin
1931 Otto Heinrich Warburg 1932 Werner Heisenberg
1933 Erwin Schrödinger 1935 Hans Spemann
1936 Peter Debye 1939 Adolf Butenandt
1944 Otto Hahn 1950 Kurt Alder
1950 Otto Diels 1953 Fritz Albert Lipmann
1953 Hans Adolf Krebs 1954 Max Born
1956 Walther Bothe 1991 Bert Sakmann
2007 Gerhard Ertl Rankings
In 2013 QS World University Rankings ranked Humboldt University 126th overall in the world,
and 7th in Germany. Its subject rankings were: 22nd in Arts & Humanities, 184th in Engineering
& IT, 123rd in Life Sciences & Biomedicine, 87th in Natural Sciences, and 90th in Social
Sciences. The Times Higher Education World University
Ranking 2014–15 listed Humboldt-University as the 80th best university in the world and
4th best in Germany. Organization
These are the 11 faculties into which the university is divided:
Faculty of Law Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences I
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences II
Charité – Berlin University Medicine Faculty of Philosophy I
Faculty of Philosophy II Faculty of Philosophy III, Gender Studies)
Faculty of Philosophy IV Faculty of Theology
Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Furthermore, there are two independent institutes
that are part of the university: Centre for British Studies
Humboldt-Innovation Museum für Naturkunde
Points of interest Späth-Arboretum
See also List of modern universities in Europe
List of Universities in Berlin Charité
Free University of Berlin Technical University of Berlin
Hertie School of Governance Berlin University of the Arts
Humboldt Museum Humboldt Box
Notes and references External links
Humboldt University of Berlin website