Posts Tagged ‘Max Planck’

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 During the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, many Jewish professors were fired, numerous doctorates were withdrawn and political opponents of Nazis were expelled from the university.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,

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,


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