The founding of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society

1911

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Photo: Inaugural meeting in the large conference room of the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, Archives of the Max Planck Society.
Photo: Inaugural meeting in the large conference room of the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, Archives of the Max Planck Society.

The foundation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society took place at the Berlin Academy of Arts on 11 January 1911. A total of 83 voting members of the new association attended the meeting. The list of founding members reads like an extract from the “Who’s Who” of German industry. The Kaiser had announced its foundation a few months prior, on Berlin University’s 100th anniversary. The new Society was to complement the work of the universities and academies with research into the natural sciences and thereby keep Germany competitive in the international arena. Influential science manager and scientist Adolf Harnack was appointed President. The Kaiser himself was the patron, thus granting the new institution a great deal of prestige and attracting numerous powerful donors, including many members of the Jewish middle classes. Minerva was chosen as the Society’s symbol, the Roman goddess of science being the embodiment of wisdom, valour and endurance.

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