The beginnings of a research giant

The Max Planck Society has republished a DAMALS article on the history of the Max Planck Society on the occasion of its 70th anniversary.

A new type of science organization called the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG) was established in the German empire in 1911. Its institutes would primarily focus on new, highly promising interdisciplinary research fields which did not exist amongst the university disciplines at the time. Pursuing an elitist approach, the KWG aimed to attract the “best minds” for its research activities. The researchers were provided with ideal research conditions deliberately without time-consuming lecturing duties.

The turbulent beginnings of the MPG, which today is Germany’s largest non-university science organization, were attributable to differences of opinion between the occupying powers and the long shadow cast by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society as a predecessor organization.