In the footsteps of our history

The Berlin district of Dahlem plays a special role in the history of the Max Planck Society. Many institutes, such as the MPI for Physics or Biochemistry, have their roots there. A new app now enables users to explore this history on their own.

Lise Meitner, Fritz Haber and Albert Einstein - their influence on Berlin-Dahlem as a science location continues to be felt today.

The Dahlem research campus in southwest Berlin wrote scientific history at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the location where the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG), founded in 1911, established its first institutes. The Max Planck Society, predecessor of the KWG was established in 1948. For the biochemist Adolf Butenandt, Dahlem was even ‘the heaven of science’. He was not the only one whose work was awarded the Nobel Prize.

In an audio guide illustrated with historical pictures, the new app tells the story of people whose discoveries changed the world. A GPS-located map leads to ten stations, which can be completely explored in a two-hour walk. If you have less time, you can shorten the tour or just visit certain stations. Looking at the palatial architecture of the historical scientific buildings, one would not expect that they housed high-tech laboratories at the time of their construction according to the standards of the time. They were used for highly specialized research in pioneering fields such as genetics, physical chemistry or atomic physics.

Today, Freie Universität Berlin uses many of the buildings, including the former KWI for chemistry. Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner carried out research there and their work led to the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938. Albert Einstein also left his mark. When he came to Berlin in 1914, he first lived in the service villa of his friend Fritz Haber on the Dahlem campus. Also legendary is the German uranium project at the KWI für Physik under Werner Heisenberg, which led to the construction of the first uranium reactor, but also brought a German atomic bomb within reach during the Nazi era.

The App DahlemTour Berlin reveals why this thankfully never happened and much more about the history of the MPG.

Downloads

Further reading

Portrait of Lise Meitner
When the Kaiser Wilhelm Society convenes for its annual general meeting at Harnack House in the summer of 1931, guests can expect an innovation: one of the three lectures - academic highlights at the opening of the meeting  - will be held, by the for the first time in the history of the KWG, a woman. more
Otto Hahn (1946-1960)
Otto Hahn was born the son of master glazier and merchant Heinrich Hahn in Frankfurt am Main on 8 March 1879. The youngest of four brothers, whose father actually wanted him to be an architect, Hahn went on to study chemistry at the universities of Marburg and Munich after completing his schooling in his home town. more
Meeting point of the international science community
Harnack House was built in 1929 to provide guest accommodation and a conference venue for the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the Max Planck Society’s predecessor organization. It established itself in the 1930s as a club for international science and as a social venue in the German capital. Scientists from all over the world, artists, politicians and captains of industry stayed here or came to attend events. more
Our history
The Max Planck Society was founded February 26, 1948 in Göttingen as successor organisation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society more

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