Posts Tagged ‘Wilhelm von Humboldt’

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 During the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, many Jewish professors were fired, numerous doctorates were withdrawn and political opponents of Nazis were expelled from the university.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

Berliner Stadtschloss to Humboldt Forum

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) dates back to 1443. It was the residence of the Margraves of Brandenburg, Prussian Kings and German Emperors. More than 60 years after its demolition, the exterior of the Berliner Stadtschloss is now being reconstructed in all its former grandeur. Called not Stadtschloss but “Humboldt Forum,” the building is scheduled to open in 2019 and will serve as Berlin’s new cultural center.

Berliner Stadtschloss - now Humboldt Forum - under construction in April 2016, photo © J. Elke Ertle, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berliner Stadtschloss – now Humboldt Forum – under construction in April 2016, photo © J. Elke Ertle, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Location of the Berliner Stadtschloss

The Berliner Stadtschloss, Germany’s equivalent of Buckingham Palace, was located at the Schlossplatz in the historical core of Berlin, opposite the Lustgarten and the Berlin cathedral. Following the division of Berlin http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlin-blockade-and-the-Cold-War/ the City Palace ended up in the Soviet sector of the city.

History of the Berliner Stadtschloss

At the turn of the 18th century, Frederick III – Elector of Brandenburg and later Prussia’s first King – chose architect and sculptor Andreas Schlueter to turn the existing 15th century medieval castle into a majestic City Palace. Toward the end of World War II, the grand structure was seriously damaged. Although repair was possible, the socialist regime of East Germany preferred to divest itself of this symbol of Prussian imperialism. In 1950, therefore, the Berliner Stadtschloss was demolished. In 1976 a new and contemporary edifice rose in its place, the Palace of the Republic (Palast der Republik). http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-palast-der-republik-lives-on/

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was discovered that the Palace of the Republic contained 5,000 tons of asbestos. In 2008, it shared the fate of the royal residence, and the Palace of the Republic – palace for the people – was also demolished. Following countless fierce debates over what should happen to the now empty site, the parliament of reunited Germany decided to reconstruct the City Palace. However, only the original three baroque façades of the old Berliner Stadtschloss facing north, west, and south will be reconstructed. The Renaissance front facing east will be more contemporary because there is insufficient documentation relative to its original appearance.

Humboldt Forum

Since Germany hasn’t had a monarchy for almost 100 years, the newly reconstructed Berliner Stadtschloss will not serve as a royal residence. Instead, it will be a museum and a venue for public events and exhibitions. Its name is a reference to the legacy of the brothers Alexander von Humboldt (the explorer) and Wilhelm (the diplomat). At the start of the 19th century, the Humboldt brothers did groundbreaking work in researching foreign cultures. The Humboldt Forum will house non-European exhibits and arts to complement nearby Museum Island http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-museum-island/, which houses European history. The various collections will be presented and interpreted together as part of a shared cultural heritage.

 

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