1. Foundation of the Institute
Institutes for Chemistry (left) and for Physical Chemistry and
Electrochemistry (right) --(1913).
What is now called the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the
Max-Planck-Society was founded in 1911 as the Kaiser-Wilhelm
Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, together with
the the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry. These were in fact the
first two institutes of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Society
(Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft, KWG). Setting up the Institute of Chemistry
was partially financed by the KWG, but the main contribution came from the
"Verein Chemische Reichsanstalt". And installing the Institute
for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry was made possible by a
generous endowment by Leopold Koppel, a wealthy industrialist and banker.
The endowment act was signed on October 28, 1911 in Berlin by the
"Koppel Foundation for the Promotion of Scientific Relations
Abroad" and by a representative of the Prussian Minister for
Scientific and Educational Affairs. According to the endowment act the
governing body of the institute was to consist of: (a) the Endowment
Council, formed by representatives of the Koppel-Foundation and of the
Prussian Ministry, (b) the Scientific Board, to which the Academies of
Sciences in Berlin, Göttingen, Leipzig and Munich, together with the
Friedrich-Wilhelm University of Berlin would send a total of six
representatives, and to which the Kaiser-Wilhelm Society and the
Koppel-Foundation would nominate two representatives each, and (c) the
director of the institute.
Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf von
Harnack, followed by Emil Fischer and Fritz Haber walking to the opening
ceremony of the first two KWG institutes (October 1912).
initial building and equipment the endowment allowed for 700,000 marks. In
addition, an annual grant of 35,000 marks for a period of ten years was
included to cover operation and maintenance costs. When it became obvious
that the initial funds for equipment were not sufficient Koppel made
another 300,000 marks available which was announced on the occasion of the
opening ceremony. The State of Prussia provided the site for the institute
on the Prussian Royal Estate of Dahlem and covered part of the operating
expenses of the institute by 50,000 Mark annually, including 15,000 Mark
for the salary of the institute director.
The planning of the institute buildings was in the hands of His Majesty's
Chief Architect, the State Counselor on Buildings, Ernst von Ihne, who
also designed the other Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Dahlem, the Institute
of Chemistry. His ambition to combine aesthetic appeal with the
requirements of scientific research are illustrated by the fact that he
covered the roofs with Thuringian slate and gave the facade a gray color,
"so that no colored light should penetrate the work space, to exert a
disturbing influence on the investigations". On October 23, 1912,
only 11 months after the beginning of the construction, a first research
building of about 2,500 m2 space and 18,000 m3
capacity was finished for the opening ceremony. The administration of the
institute was handled without bureaucracy by the secretariat of the
Fritz Haber (left) and Albert Einstein
(right) at the "Fritz-Haber-Institut" (1915).
Fritz Haber was appointed director of the institute following the
recommendationof the famous Swedish physical chemist Svante Arrhenius. Haber's
personality and his previous scientific achievements were considered
particularly appropriate for a leader of this new institute, focusing on
basic research in the field of physical chemistry, which was expected to
give new momentum to the development of the German chemical industry, at
that time regarded as a world leader.
In 1913/14 the staff amounted to 5 scientists, 10 assistants, and 13
volunteers and students, with a personnel and operating budget of
70,000 Mark excluding the salary of the director.