Posts Tagged ‘Humboldt University’

Frederick the Great shaped modern Europe

Monday, February 20th, 2017

King Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Grosse) was born in 1712 in Berlin, Germany. In 1740, he inherited the Prussian throne from his father, Frederick William I (Friedrich Wilhelm I) http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/frederick-william-i-a-troubled-ruler/ and ruled until 1786. He was bestowed the epitaph of “the Great” during his lifetime and was affectionately nicknamed “Der Alte Fritz” (Old Fritz) by the Prussian people.

It is doubtful that Otto von Bismarck http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/otto-von-bismarck-visionary-or-villain/ could have united Germany without Frederick the Great’s achievements. In addition to being an excellent military strategist and one of the most enlightened monarchs of the area, Frederick the Great was also an insightful historian, a probing philosopher, an accomplished musician and an insatiable reader. During his time in power, Prussia became one of the preeminent powers in Europe.

Frederick the Great’s childhood

Frederick the Great’s father was a violent authoritarian with a quick temper who expected his son to embrace the military to the exclusion of all other pursuits. But the young price preferred the arts and culture to the art of war. Frederick William responded by beating and humiliating his son. At age 18, young Frederick attempted to escape to England together with his friend, Hans Hermann von Katte. The two were caught and arrested for treason. In a cruel spectacle, Frederick William made his son watch the decapitation of his friend. Thereafter, Frederick the Great bowed to his father’s wishes.

Frederick the Great’s Domestic Achievements

Frederick the Great achieved a high reputation as a military commander and is often remembered as the father of Prussian militarism, but his impact was even more evident domestically. He not only reformed the military and the bureaucracy, he also established religious tolerance and granted a basic form of freedom of speech and press. He reformed the judicial system, abolishing most uses of torture and established the first German code of law. He also encouraged immigrants of various nationalities and faiths to come to Prussia.

 

Frederick II, King of Prussia (known as Frederick the Great), 1712-1786. www.walled-in-berlin.com. Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia

Frederick II, King of Prussia (known as Frederick the Great), 1712-1786. www.walled-in-berlin.com. Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia

 

Frederick the Great’s reign saw a revolutionary change in the importance and prestige of Prussia. Despite preferring the French language to his native German, Frederick distrusted France’s intentions. “Distrust is the mother of security” became his motto.

Frederick the Great’s Architectural Achievements

Frederick had many famous buildings constructed in Berlin. Most of them still exist today, such as the Berlin State Opera (Berliner Staatsoper), the Royal Library (Staatsbioliothek Berlin), St. Hedwig’s Cathedral (Sankt-Hedwig-Kathedrale) and Prince Henry’s Palace (now the site of the Humboldt University (Humboldt Universitaet.) http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-prestigious-humboldt-university/ However, the king’s most favorite place was his summer residence, Sanssouci, in Potsdam. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/sanssouci-modest-kings-retreat/

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin’s Prestigious Humboldt University

Monday, August 1st, 2016

 

Humboldt University on Unter den Linden boulevard is one of Berlin’s oldest universities. Twenty-nine Nobel Prize winners studied here. Founded in 1810, Humboldt University is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe and has produced many of Germany’s greatest scholars, including the physicists Albert Einstein and Max Planck and the Grimm brothers who are known as the fairy tale brothers.

History of Humboldt University

Initially, the university was simply known as Universitaet zu Berlin (University of Berlin). After 1828, it was called Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universitaet (Frederick William University) in honor of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. During the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, many Jewish professors were fired, numerous doctorates were withdrawn and political opponents of Nazis were expelled from the university. Following the division of Berlin in 1945, the university ended up in the Soviet sector of the city and came under the ideological control of the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany. A year later, in 1949, the university was renamed Humboldt-Universitaet in honor of its founder Wilhelm von Humboldt and his brother Alexander von Humboldt.

After the collapse of the East German regime in 1989 and the reunification of Germany, the university was radically reorganized. It now consists of three campuses: Campus Mitte, Campus Nord and Campus Adlershof. The university’s main building (Campus Mitte) houses the humanities, law, business and economics departments. It is located in the center of Berlin on the boulevard of Unter den Linden. Campus Nord is located close to the main train station and houses the life sciences and the university medical center, the Charité,. Natural sciences, computer sciences and mathematics are located at Campus Adlershof in the southeastern part of Berlin.

Wilhelm von Humboldt 1767-1835

Wilhelm von Humboldt was a Prussian philosopher, diplomat and linguist. He became one of the most influential men in German education. He set up a standardized system of instruction from basic through secondary education. The structure of German research-intensive universities, such as Humboldt, served as model for institutions like Johns Hopkins University. Wilhelm von Humboldt also standardized state examinations and inspections and founded the Humboldt University of Berlin in 1810.

Alexander von Humboldt 1769-1859

Wilhelm von Humboldt’s younger brother, Alexander, was a famous geographer, naturalist, and explorer. He formed important theories on magnetism, volcanicity, seismology and tectonics. Expeditions to collect comparative data for his scientific publications took Alexander von Humboldt all over the world, including Spain, Spanish America, Chile, Peru, Granada, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, the Andes, the United States and Russia.

1883 Statue of Alexander von Humboldt in front of Humboldt University's Campus Mitte. The Spanish inscription calls him "the second discoverer of Cuba". Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016, www.walled-in-berlin.com

1883 Statue of Alexander von Humboldt in front of Humboldt University’s Campus Mitte. The Spanish inscription calls him “the second discoverer of Cuba”. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016, www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com