The end of the war and transition. Max Planck is Interim President of the KWS

1945

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Photo: Max Planck, namesake of the new "Max Planck Society", Archives of Max Planck Society.
Photo: Max Planck, namesake of the new "Max Planck Society", Archives of Max Planck Society.

Faced with the imminent collapse of the Third Reich, KWS President Albert Vögler committed suicide in April 1945. The Allies were already drawing up early plans for the restructuring of Germany, which also touched upon the science system and the KWS as the country’s leading research institution. However, there were a number of different ideas circulating among the Allied forces concerning the future of the KWS. One key figure who facilitated the transition to a new set-up was Max Planck. Planck had witnessed the end of the war in the small town of Rogätz It became apparent that the Americans were going to hand the region over to the Soviet forces. Given the situation, British chemist Berty Blount, who had been put in charge of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society by the occupation authorities, decided to have the renowned Nobel Prize winner brought to the West. On 16 May, in a gruelling two-hour drive, Belgian astronomer Kuiper took the 87-year-old Planck to Göttingen in an American military jeep. Two months later, Max Planck agreed to take up the office of Interim President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society to enable it to be restructured.

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