Free University of Berlin

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Free University of Berlin
motto Veritas, Iustitia, Libertas
( German : Truth , Justice , Freedom )
founding 1948
Sponsorship state
place Berlin
federal state BerlinBerlin Berlin
country GermanyGermany Germany
president Günter M. Ziegler
students 38,304 (WS 2019/2020)
Employee 4450 (2018)
including professors 358 (2018) , including 48 professors with non-university research institutions, plus 127 junior professors.
Annual budget € 561.8 million (2018) including € 138.2 million third-party funding
Networks DFH , German U15
Presidential Office of the Free University of Berlin at Kaiserswerther Strasse 16/18

The Free University of Berlin ( FU Berlin for short or - more rarely - FUB ) was founded in 1948 and has its headquarters and central campus in Berlin-Dahlem . In terms of the number of students , it is one of the 20 largest universities in Germany .

In the course of the excellence initiative in 2007 and 2012, Freie Universität was recognized as the first “University of Excellence” in Berlin. As an establishment of the network of the Berlin University Alliance (together with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin , the Technische Universität Berlin and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin ), the FU Berlin was included in the second funding line in 2019 as part of the Excellence Strategy.


Starting position and foundation

It was founded on December 4, 1948 and is closely related to the incipient East-West conflict , which arose as a result of the various political ideologies of the Allies and made joint post-war treatment for Germany fail.

The first main building of the Free University of Berlin: the former Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology

The Berlin University , Humboldt University from 1949 , was located in the Soviet sector of the four- sector city ​​of Berlin and received permission from the military administration ( SMAD ) to resume teaching from 1946. It was subordinate to the SED-dominated German Central Administration for National Education under Paul Wandel . The university thus became the scene of the political disputes over the increasing communist influence on the education system. This was controversial and aroused strong protests within the student body and from parts of the faculty .

One of the reactions to this was the arrest of several students by the Soviet secret police MWD in March 1947. The judgments of the Soviet military tribunal in Berlin-Lichtenberg were each twenty-five years of forced labor and were based on "formation of an underground movement at the University of Berlin" and "espionage". 18 other students and lecturers were arrested or abducted between 1945 and 1948, and many disappeared for weeks. Some were brought to the Soviet Union and executed there.

At the end of 1947 there was a call for a new university to be founded. The magistrate under Mayor Louise Schroeder (SPD), in which non-communist forces dominated, responded to the situation at the old university with a resolution on January 15, 1948 and, as a countermeasure, ordered the re-establishment of the German School of Politics outside the Berlin University. The protests against the political influence on the Berlin University continued and reached their climax on April 23, 1948 with a student demonstration after three students had been withdrawn from studying without due process a week earlier. At the end of April, the American military governor Lucius D. Clay had the establishment of a university in the American sector of Berlin examined.

At the beginning of June 1948 a student preparatory committee for the establishment of a free university was established, on June 19 the preparatory committee for the establishment of a free university was constituted , in which politicians, professors, lecturers, administrative employees and students were equally involved. In a manifesto called Call for the Founding of a Free University in Berlin , the committee addressed the public on June 23 with a request for support.

Against the background of the Berlin blockade , the magistrate of Greater Berlin approved the establishment of a free university and wished to start teaching in the winter semester of 1948/1949, the city ​​council approved the statutes of the new university on November 4, 1948. Against the establishment of the free university University, the student councils in the Soviet occupation zone protested , the GDR always referred to it in official documents as a so-called Free University until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 . The founding of the Free University contributed to the fact that another university political and university reform project was gradually deprived of its working basis: the German Research University , in which the institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society that remained in Berlin are based on a new model of research and training the US Schools of Advanced Studies should develop.

Seal of the Free University of Berlin with the terms "Veritas", "Iustitia" and "Libertas"

The statutes became known under the catchphrase Berliner Modell : On the one hand, the Free University was established as a corporation under public law and, with a strong self-administration, was not directly subordinate to the state , but to a board of trustees . Six representatives from the state of Berlin and three representatives from the university belonged to the supervisory body at that time. In addition, the students also had a seat on the board of trustees, as well as on all other bodies of academic self-government . The statutes reflected the experience of the state exerting influence on the old Berlin university: this was intended to ensure independence from the state and the independence of academic teaching and research. The students' ability to influence the decision-making bodies, which was extraordinarily strong for the time, reflected their significant commitment to founding a free university. - These innovations were unique up to then and were not practiced at any other university. However, student participation in the university committees was gradually almost completely withdrawn by 1951 and the decision-making patterns of the FU were adapted to the traditional procedures of the West German universities in order to ensure that the FU was recognized as an equivalent university. Only later, especially in the 1970s, was the Berlin model adopted elsewhere.

Teaching began on November 15, 1948 in buildings belonging to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Promotion of Science in Dahlem, and it was also necessary to rent villas in the immediate vicinity. It was not until December 4, 1948, that the actual founding event took place in the Titania-Palast , a movie theater that offered the largest available hall in the American sector in badly damaged post-war Berlin. The founding rector was the historian Friedrich Meinecke , who had moved from the old Berlin university to the FU on November 10th.

In addition to scientists, students and politicians, such as the elected mayor of Berlin and chairman of the founding committee Ernst Reuter , the incumbent mayor Louise Schroeder and the commander of the American sector Frank L. Howley , representatives of US universities were also present, such as the representatives of the Princeton University and Yale University , including the writer Thornton Wilder . Freie Universität Berlin also expressed its founding goals in its Latin motto : Veritas - Iustitia - Libertas , i.e. the values ​​of truth , justice and freedom . They can also be found in the seal of the Free University of Berlin, which is still in use today, designed by the art historian and later rector Edwin Redslob . These basic values ​​determine the academic ethos of the university to this day.

Construction and dismantling phases of the university

In the first semester after it was founded, there were 2,140 students at the FU Berlin; In 1949 this number had increased to 4,946. Up until the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, many students came from the eastern part of Berlin, many supported by a currency scholarship from the Berlin Senate. In 1956 the FU was the first German university to introduce Magister examination regulations .

Henry Ford Building - central lecture hall building with Auditorium maximum (north side)

In the late 1960s, the Free University was one of the centers of the 1968 movement and the Extra-Parliamentary Opposition (APO) in Germany, to which, for example, the FU students Rudi Dutschke and Benno Ohnesorg belonged. For the universities, for example, the protests in 1969 resulted in the abolition of the traditional system of ordinaries , which provided for the sole control of the university by the professors. Reform statutes have been introduced at various institutes, e. B. at the Institute for Sociology a statute with quarter parity.

The development towards a mass university began through the educational expansion in the 1970s . In 1973 the Rostlaube , built since 1967, was opened as an institute building for a large part of the humanities and social sciences. In 1978 the first sections of the Silberlaube were opened; further sections were obtained in 1982.

In the winter semester 1976/77 there was a professional ban strike at the FU , which immediately spread to all universities and technical colleges in the western part of the city and, in addition to university issues ( HRG ), primarily addressed the threat to some lecturers from the radical decree and their own perspectives. The strike was decided by 4,000 students in the FU Audimax on November 24, 1976 and implemented immediately. Internally, the New Student Movement succeeded in breaking the predominance of the Maoist K groups and the GDR-oriented student associations that came from the 1968 movement . The strike was organized across universities according to the council principle. Attempts were made to boycott regular teaching and to replace it with self-organized seminars (study collectives) and working groups (AGs) .

Students from the Institute for Journalism (IfP) published a university-wide strike newspaper. The parallel structures were maintained in the 1977 summer semester and the strike movement was renewed in the 1977/78 winter semester. Instead of the AStA, which was abolished in 1969, a USTA (Independent Student Committee) was established. In contrast to the 68s, a general willingness to talk to politics and university management was cultivated, but from 1978 onwards a large number of active students withdrew from the universities in order to set up projects in the city districts and to get involved in the new social movements .

Main entrance in Habelschwerdter Allee

The grounds of the University of Education (PH) in Berlin-Lankwitz were integrated into the Free University of Berlin in 1980. About half of the approximately 5,000 PH students and professors switched to the FU. Geology, geophysics and palaeontology as well as communication sciences and the central facility for audiovisual media (ZEAM) were housed on the site.

When, in the winter semester of 1988/89, plans for a structural commission to reorganize the FU, which were meeting to the exclusion of the university public and which provided for the abolition of entire courses and the amalgamation of institutes, became known, there were intense student protests that culminated in a semester-long strike, the UniMUT strike : lectures were prevented and various buildings, such as the rust and silver arbor, were occupied for the duration of the semester. Another topic was student participation and poor study conditions. A long-lasting success of what the students called B * Freiten University were the project tutorials organized by the students themselves, which were retained until 2002. At the Faculty of Law there is still a tutorial program that goes back to the student initiatives in 1988/89.

In the mid-1980s, the Free University of Berlin, as a “mass university”, had a student population of over 50,000 for the first time (1983: 50,298). After the fall of the Berlin Wall, this number exceeded 60,000 and reached its peak in the 1991/92 winter semester with 62,072 students. This made the FU (after the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich ) the second largest university in Germany.

A few months later, the Berlin Senate decided to reduce the number of places at the Free University of Berlin by 10,000 by 2003. In 1996 further cuts were made. The associated effects on the range of courses on offer led to massive student protests in the 1997/98 winter semester against the savings in education, which resulted in demonstrations, strikes and the occupation of the presidential office. However, enrollment and re-registration fees have been introduced. The number of students decreased in the course of the savings processes to 43,885 in the winter semester 2002/03.

Due to the tight budget situation in the state of Berlin, the state government decided to restructure university medicine. This led to the merger of the two medical institutions of FU and the Humboldt University in 2003 to form a unified department; since then they have jointly formed the Charité Medical Faculty - Universitätsmedizin Berlin .

From 2002 to 2005 the number of students decreased by a further 20%, the total number in the 2005/06 winter semester was 34,936. Around half of this decrease is due to the relocation of human medicine, the students have not been included in the statistics of the FU since then.

Excellence Initiative

In the first round of the Excellence Initiative , Freie Universität received a positive assessment: By approving a total of nine projects (three clusters of excellence and six graduate schools ), the university was the most successful university in the competition. The International Network University concept for the future, which was awarded in October 2007 , was confirmed in the evaluation in June 2012 as part of the second program phase of the Excellence Initiative, and the FU Berlin continues to be one of the German universities of excellence. For its approved projects between 2007 and 2012, the university received a total of 108 million euros from the funds of the Excellence Initiative.

History of veterinary medicine

The tradition of the veterinary department - which is now part of the Free University of Berlin - goes back to the 18th century . In 1787, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II ordered the establishment of the first “Thierarzney School” in Berlin. Because of the lack of horse and cattle doctors, medical knowledge in veterinary medicine should be expanded. The “Thierarzney School” then opened in 1790. Milestones of the facility were the acquisition of university degrees on June 20, 1887 and, from 1902, the requirement for university entrance qualification for studying at the newly established veterinary college. On September 5, 1910, she received the right to award doctorates.

On November 1, 1934, together with the Berlin Agricultural University, it was accepted as a faculty in the association of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, today's Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. From 1937 there was a separate veterinary faculty.

The university, called "Humboldt University of Berlin" since 1949, was located in the Soviet part of the city ​​of Berlin, which was divided into four sectors . After the end of the Second World War, Marxism and Leninism lectures and Russian were introduced as compulsory subjects in the 1950s . The SED increased the political pressure on the university, which resulted in seven professors, 30 assistants and 200 students leaving the veterinary medicine faculty to go to West Germany.

After German reunification in 1990, a merger law was passed by the Berlin House of Representatives on June 4, 1992, which resulted in the two veterinary medicine faculties of the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Free University of Berlin merging from October 2, 1992 and today under the umbrella of Free University of Berlin.

The premises of the veterinary university are spread over several locations. Today's deanery and some institutes were used for other purposes before they were used by veterinary medicine.


Günter M. Ziegler 2007, President of the Free University of Berlin since 2018

At the head of the Freie Universität Berlin is the Presidium, which consists of the President, Günter M. Ziegler , the First Vice-President, Klaus Hoffmann-Holland , as well as currently the Vice-Presidents Klaus Mühlhahn and Verena Blechinger-Talcott and the Chancellor Andrea Bör.

The Free University of Berlin is divided into twelve departments (FB) as well as four central institutes (ZI) and eight central institutions (ZE).


Further information can be found in the list of rectors at Freie Universität Berlin .


The Latin America Institute

Central Institutes

Botanical Garden Berlin
(Great Tropical House)

Central facilities

In addition to the departments and central institutes, the central institutions (ZE) take on other important - mostly interdisciplinary - tasks: the university computer center ( central facility for data processing , ZEDAT for short ), ZE promotion of women's and gender research, ZE university sports, ZE language center, ZE student advice and psychological advice ZE University Library , ZE Center for Continuing Education and the ZE Botanical Garden & Botanical Museum .

Institute for School Quality

The Institute for School Quality of the States of Berlin and Brandenburg (ISQ) is an affiliated institute of the Free University of Berlin according to the State University Act.

Collegium Musicum

The Collegium Musicum is a joint institution of the TU and FU . It currently has around 500 members, students of all disciplines who devote their free time to music . The Collegium Musicum consists of five ensembles: large choir , chamber choir , symphony orchestra , small symphonic orchestra and big band . There are regular events such as B. Concerts at the end of the semester.


Aerial view of Berlin with the campus area outlined in yellow (easily recognizable: Botanical Garden and University Hospital)


The Free University of Berlin is located in the southwest of Berlin, in the district of Dahlem the district Steglitz-Zehlendorf . The central campus concentrates on the one hand on the area on Garystraße between Clayallee and Thielallee. The Henry Ford Building and the University Library are also located here . The second large area is northeast of it near the old village center of Dahlem, between Königin-Luise-Strasse and Habelschwerdter Allee, along Fabeckstrasse and Arnimallee . The best known is certainly the building complex of the rust and silver arbor. In September 2005, the new Philological Library of the Free University of Berlin (the "Berlin Brain"), built according to plans by Norman Foster , was opened here. The institute and library building of the "small subjects" opened in 2015 adjoins the Silberlaube. It was named "wooden arbor" after its wooden cladding and based on the rust and silver arbor.

About 3 km east of it, between Hindenburgdamm, Schlosspark Lichterfelde and Teltow Canal , is the Benjamin Franklin University Hospital , which is part of the Charité medical faculty . Two smaller secondary locations are in Lankwitz on Malteserstraße and in Düppel , south of Potsdamer Chaussee. The site in Lankwitz originally belonged to the Berlin University of Education (PH Berlin), but its departments were integrated into the FU, the TU and the HdK (now the UdK ) in 1980 . Today it houses the geosciences and until the 2007/2008 winter semester the Institute for Media and Communication Studies , which can now be found at the central location in Dahlem . The Düppel site consists of the area of ​​the former Düppel manor, where the veterinary medical facilities of the veterinary clinic are located.

The botanical garden is a specialty among the higher education institutions . It is located in the eastern part of Dahlem and covers an area of ​​more than 43 hectares between Königin-Luise-Straße , Unter den Eichen and Altensteinstraße. This makes it one of the largest botanical gardens in the world.

Science location before 1948

Hahn-Meitner-Bau: Institute for Biochemistry (formerly Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry)

The original Royal Domain Dahlem was dissolved in 1901 on the initiative of the Ministerial Director in the Prussian Ministry of Education, Friedrich Althoff . His goal on their area was "the establishment of an elegant colony defined by excellent scientific institutions - a German Oxford ". He feared that Germany could lose touch with more scientifically active countries such as Great Britain , France and the USA and planned to develop Dahlem into a leading international location for science. Living and academic work should be combined along the lines of the British university.

Max Planck

Initially, the establishment of scientifically oriented specialist authorities and then the construction of two new institutes at Berlin University contributed. However, ten years passed before the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science (KWG) was founded on January 11, 1911. She had a number of representative buildings erected, mainly to accommodate scientific institutes. Twelve Nobel Prize winners and renowned scientists conducted research there, including Adolf von Harnack , Max Planck , Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch . The chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Straßmann discovered the nuclear fission of the uranium atom here at the end of 1938, which was theoretically interpreted by the physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch in exile in Sweden. Richard Willstätter researched the structure of chlorophyll and the inventor of the theory of relativity Albert Einstein and his friend Max von Laue , who discovered the diffraction of X-rays , were also active here.

The National Socialist harmonization and the enforcement of the Aryan paragraph meant the loss of many employees for the KWG. In addition, some of the banks acquired after the seizure of power by the Nazis notoriety as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology , on the racialist was operated research.

In 1948 the FU took over several buildings belonging to the Max Planck Society (MPG), which had emerged from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes after the Second World War . MPG and FU therefore see themselves together in the scientific tradition of the Dahlem location.

University campus after 1948

View over the southern Dahlem campus to the HFB

Originally, the design of the core area of ​​the FU was based on the Anglo-Saxon type of university campus. This was a novelty in Germany, as the concentration on monumental main buildings in the city center has so far dominated. The campus received its spatial center in the 1950s with newly constructed groups of buildings, embedded in several green spaces. The university library and the Henry Ford building (supposedly named after Henry Ford II ) were built according to plans by Gustav Müller and Franz-Heinrich Sobotka . The latter houses the Auditorium maximum , other large lecture halls, seminar rooms and the boardroom of the Academic Senate. In addition, the neighboring Wilhelminian style villas, research buildings and institutes of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Society were also included. In southern Dahlem, among other things, the economic , social and legal sciences are located, but also the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science, the Eastern Europe Institute, pharmacology , biochemistry , central university administration and the presidential office. The latter two use the building of the former Allied headquarters as an office.

Rost- und Silberlaube building complex

With the expansion of the college into a mass university with 63,000 students in the 1970s, the need for space also increased. The campus, which was once clearly demarcated from the outside, was expanded considerably and frayed. Especially in the northern part of Dahlem, new buildings were erected on fruit-growing plantations, among them the so-called rust and silver arbor complex. There are in addition to the scientific institutions such as chemistry , physics , biology , pharmacy , mathematics and computer science , the history and cultural studies , the Philological facilities that philosophy and humanities , and educational sciences and psychology .

Although the facilities of the Free University of Berlin are spread over around 230 buildings - often former private villas - they are still mostly within a relatively narrow radius of around 1.5 km. Since the beginning of the 1990s there has been an increasing concentration of scientific institutions on FU-owned buildings. In the meantime, this has also taken into account the reduction in the number of study places to around 25,000 financed and 32,000 matriculated. In addition, the university hopes that the sale of its own villas and by not renting smaller villas will make great savings through optimized building management. In total, the FU site in Dahlem now covers around 1.85 million m².

Institute for Computer Science (south side)

In line with the concept of a university campus, there are other infrastructural facilities in Dahlem: in addition to sports facilities, there are also living space for students, such as the student village Schlachtensee , located close to the university . The FU Berlin is considered a university in a green location: Above all, villas and gardens, several parks, green areas, as well as the remaining fields and fruit-growing areas of the Dahlem domain characterize the image of the district that borders the Grunewald in the west. The university is well connected to local public transport : In addition to several bus lines , the western city center of Berlin can be reached with the U3 subway line and the eastern center with the S1 S-Bahn line in about 15 minutes.


Institute for Plant Physiology and Microbiology

Many of the representative buildings of the KWG were designed by Ernst von Ihne , the architect of the Bode Museum and the Unter den Linden State Library . His Munich colleague Carl Sattler created a lecture and meeting center in 1929 and at the same time a guest house for scientists from all over the world, known today as the Harnack House . New building meant what was then the Reichsknappschaftshaus , located on Breitenbachplatz and built in the Bauhaus style in 1930 . Max Taut and Franz Hoffmann opted for a steel frame construction and a facade clad with ceramic tiles, a style that was new at the time. Today the Latin American Institute (LAI) and parts of the administration are housed in the listed building.

The building of the Allied Commandant's office, now used as the Presidential Office, was the supreme inter-allied government authority for Berlin for 45 years after the Second World War and administered the four sectors of the city under the supervision of the Allied Control Council . Initially, the house served as an administration building for the Association of Public Fire Insurance Companies and was built in 1929 by Heinrich Straumer , the architect of the Berlin radio tower.

Important architects worked for the FU: Georges Candilis , Alexis Josic, Shadrach Woods and Manfred Schiedhelm from the team of architects Team 10 , but also Hinrich Baller , Inken Baller and Norman Foster .

Scientific and cultural environment

Although the university is not located in the city ​​center , with its headquarters in Dahlem it is embedded in an outstanding academic and cultural environment. In addition to the Free University of Berlin, there are several Max Planck Institutes in the immediate vicinity (including MPI for Educational Research , MPI for the History of Science , MPI for Molecular Genetics , Fritz Haber Institute with inorganic chemistry, chemical physics, molecular physics, physical chemistry; also the archive of the MPG ), the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing , the Federal Biological Institute for Agriculture and Forestry , the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment , the Konrad-Zuse-Center for Information Technology and the German University for Further Education (DUW).

The second oldest geographic society in Europe, the Gesellschaft für Gekunde zu Berlin, founded in 1828, has been based in Steglitz since 1965 , in its own Alexander von Humboldt House; The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has been located on Podbielskiallee since 1832 . Dahlem is also an important location for the Berlin State Museums . In addition to the Museum of European Cultures, the important collections of non-European art and culture of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (including the Ethnological Museum , the Museum of Asian Art ), the Secret Prussian State Archive and the Institute for Museum Research , the Brücke Museum , the Allied Museum and the Domain Dahlem open-air museum .


Media inventory and library system

With a media inventory of around 8.5 million volumes and 20,000 current journals , the library system at Freie Universität Berlin is the largest of all German universities. The inventory of this system, classified as a scientific library , includes all the disciplines represented at the university and is distributed across the University Library (UB) on Garystraße, with the textbook collection and reading room located there , as well as a total of 49 connected specialist libraries .

library (entrance Garystraße)

The institutes and facilities of some departments each have a common, large department library that organizes and stores the inventory centrally (economics; law; mathematics and computer science; chemistry, pharmacy, biology; education and psychology; geosciences; veterinary medicine) . In other areas, the libraries are decentralized at the institutes there (political and social sciences; history and cultural studies; philosophy and humanities; human medicine) . In autumn 2005, the media holdings for linguistics and literature as well as philosophy were brought together in the new Philological Library . The building by architect Lord Norman Foster was nicknamed "Brain" even before its opening because of the characteristic, round-arched shape of its outer shell, as well as the folded building levels inside, which are arranged in two hemispheres Architecture of the anatomy of a human brain . Since 2008, a new building has been aimed for to merge the scientific department libraries and the libraries of the "small subjects". It expanded the previous complex of the rust and silver arbor with an additional 12,250 m² of usable space. Construction began in March 2012 with completion planned for the end of 2014. The costs for the entire construction project were estimated at around 51 million euros. This facility named campus library opened in April 2015.

Under the title Refubium , the FUB has set up a virtual repository (place for storing documents), which grants access to the free use of electronically published documents, dissertations, habilitation theses and research data and enables free research of the metadata published there .

Usage situation

Library of the Department of Education and Psychology

While the university library is a utility library and usually lends its holdings, in some smaller institute libraries there are only reference holdings that can only be used on site in the reading room (except on weekends, overnight and during holidays). The same applies to special collections, particularly rare or valuable specimens (e.g. incunabula ), which are also not borrowed. The holdings are fully documented in the online catalog ( OPAC ) from the year of publication 1990 onwards, and depending on the library location, usually beyond - older holdings that are still missing are continuously recorded electronically and gradually supplemented. Catalog slips from the old keyword catalog before 1989 exist as an image catalog ; they are digitized by scanning and indexing the keywords and can be found on an OPAC-like website. Magazines and newspapers are entered completely electronically in the OPAC.

Documentation center and special library

The University Library has the status of a United Nations Depository Library : It serves as a special library and documentation facility of the United Nations (UN) and is connected to the global library system of the UN under the leadership of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York . In this function, she provides, for example, all publications of the UN General Assembly , the UN Security Council , the International Court of Justice and other UN organs.

The UB is also the European Documentation Center for the European Union (EU), i.e. the European documentation center for EU publications. Publications by the Council of Europe , the WEU and the OSCE complete the range of subjects. The EU / UN inventory is integrated into the general inventory of the University Library and its content and form are made accessible through their catalogs.

From 1965 to 1994, the UB of the FU, as the deposit copy library of the State of Berlin, was entrusted with archiving the regional book production. After reunification, this task was transferred to the newly built Central and State Library in Berlin . As early as 1952, the Berlin Publishers and Booksellers Association had been handing over one copy of every book published in the western part of Berlin to the Free University on a voluntary basis .



The Free University of Berlin is one of the most important research institutions in Germany and plays an important role in many scientific areas . Due to its successful performance in the Excellence Initiative, it is considered a top university .

Its status as one of the leading German universities with broad national and international recognition is further proven by the annual university rankings, high third-party funding , the large number of special research areas and other important research institutions, as well as the large number of scientific award winners.

Research building of the physics department

In the natural sciences , basic research is primarily carried out; the individual areas show a high degree of interconnectedness. In the social sciences , humanities and political sciences , a focus is on the scientific support of current social, political and cultural developments, as well as in the investigation of transformation processes , internationalization and globalization , as well as environmental policy .

There are currently nine interdisciplinary centers that conduct interdisciplinary research on topics such as teaching and learning research , language , historical anthropology , the Middle Ages , art studies and aesthetics . The same applies to the three regional scientific institutes that are dedicated to Eastern Europe , Latin America and North America ( John F. Kennedy Institute ). A special feature of the German research landscape are the many so-called small subjects that have a high degree of specialization (see: Subjects ) .

In the field of political science, the Otto Suhr Institute is one of the most important international research institutions, and it is also the largest institute of its kind in Europe. The Charité medical faculty is in a similar position , as are the geoscientists at the FU. The latter are particularly noticeable through their participation in space missions , for example on Mars ( Mars Express ) and Saturn ( Cassini-Huygens ).

Excellence Initiative

In the excellence initiative of the federal and state governments to promote science and research at German universities, the university performed successfully in all three funding lines ( graduate school , excellence cluster and future concept).

In total, the university was granted three graduate schools, two clusters of excellence and the long-term development concept of an international network university. In addition, the university is involved in two further graduate schools and two clusters of excellence together with other Berlin academic institutions. This means that the FU Berlin received the most applications compared with all other German universities.

Collaborative Research Centers and DFG Research Center

Supercomputer in the Konrad Zuse Institute of the Free University of Berlin

Freie Universität is currently the spokesperson for six Collaborative Research Centers (SFB) and is involved in eight others. She is also involved in the SFB of the Charité University Medicine Berlin. The SFB are long-term research institutions (for a period of up to 12 years) in which scientists work together as part of an interdisciplinary research program. Since the funding is provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG), it first uses a special procedure to check the eligibility of the project applied for by the university; strict criteria apply here. The Collaborative Research Centers are mainly divided between the fields of medicine and the natural sciences. With three Collaborative Research Centers, the Physics Department has the largest number of Collaborative Research Centers. But the FU is also active in the humanities, cultural and economic sciences.

There are currently five DFG research centers in Germany, one of which is located in Dahlem : DFG Research Center 8086 - Mathematics for Key Technology. Scientists from the FU, HU , TU and ZIB have been working together on this topic since 2002 and are researching the mathematical modeling, simulation and optimization of real processes. The DFG research centers are a strategic funding instrument of the German Research Foundation. They should enable the bundling of scientific competence in particularly innovative research areas and form temporary research focal points with international visibility in the universities.

Research Training Groups and Research Groups

Seven graduate colleges are located at the FU Berlin in various scientific disciplines , four more are carried out jointly with the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Potsdam , and the FU is also involved in eleven others - including international ones . The DFG's graduate colleges serve to promote the next generation of academics: PhD students are given the opportunity to carry out their work as part of a coordinated research program supported by several university lecturers.

In addition to the Collaborative Research Centers, Graduate Schools and Research Centers, there are also DFG research groups, at the FU mainly from the field of medicine. Several scientists who have been identified as outstanding devote themselves to a special research task in medium-term programs (usually up to six years). They work closely together and have the common goal of achieving results that go beyond the individual funding by the DFG, but still remain below the organizational level of a Collaborative Research Center.

Template for the logo of the Dahlem conferences : Flammarions wood engraving The atmosphere

Dahlem Conferences

The FU Berlin holds the Dahlem Conferences twice a year. These are one-week interdisciplinary gatherings that are recognized by the scientific community as internationally renowned institutions. Its participants are globally recognized scientists from different countries, usually leading representatives of the respective subject, often also Nobel Prize winners .

The topics must be of current international scientific interest, problem-oriented and of sufficient relevance for all disciplines involved. So far, they have mostly come from the fields of medicine and ecology . As a result of each event, an English-language Dahlem Workshop Report is published , a comprehensive report in which the conference results are published. In science , this series of publications is a summary of the current state of scientific knowledge on the relevant topic, it shows research gaps and the direction of future research. The working method is less like a classic conference or meeting , but is more organized according to the principle of a workshop : In interdisciplinary working groups , the selected focus is viewed from different perspectives and discussed intensively.

In 1974 the Dahlem Conferences were founded jointly by the DFG and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft . They have been part of the Free University of Berlin since 1990. A mirror-inverted excerpt from the woodcut The Atmosphere serves as a template for the logo of the Dahlem Conference . The picture comes from the work L'atmosphère météorologie populaire by the French astronomer Camille Flammarion , published in 1888 .

Cluster of Excellence

In 2003 Freie Universität began developing a dual structure, since research at an international level can only be carried out on an interdisciplinary basis. On the one hand, there is a department structure that is essential for academic matters, especially teaching. On the other hand, a cluster structure bundles the main research areas, some of which are funded as part of the Excellence Initiative:

  • Topoi - The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations (joint application by Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität, approved in the second round of the Excellence Initiative, expired in 2018, initiator of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg )
  • Languages ​​of Emotion (approved application in the second round of the Excellence Initiative),
  • Neurocure - Towards a Better Outcome of Neurological Disorder (joint application by Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität as sponsors of Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, approved in the second round of the Excellence Initiative).

Freie Universität is developing further clusters in the following research fields:

  • Applied mathematics (MATHEON, joint DFG research center of the Free University, the Humboldt University and the Technical University)
  • Educational research
  • Culture and media
  • Diversity
  • Regenerative therapies (BMBF center of the Charité - University Medicine Medicine, a joint institution of the Free University and the Humboldt University)
  • a focus area in biology is the new Dahlem Center of Plant Sciences

Leibniz Prize Winner

The DFG gives annually the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize to outstanding German scientists, acknowledging their work. The prize is the most valuable scientific award from the DFG and is associated with 1.55 million euros in prize money, which can be used on a project basis. So far there have been 16 award winners at Freie Universität Berlin (as of 2017).

Rupert Klein

University sponsorship awards

The university itself also awards sponsorship prizes: On the one hand, the Margherita von Brentano Prize has been awarded for outstanding achievements in the advancement of women since 1995 . The award is named after the philosopher Margherita von Brentano , who was First Vice President of the Free University of Berlin in the early 1970s. At 11,000 euros, the award is the highest endowed recognition for the advancement of women in Germany. The award is made by the Presidium on the recommendation of the university's central women's council. In addition, on December 4th, the day the FU Berlin was founded, the University awards the Ernst Reuter Prize to FU members for four outstanding dissertations from the previous year. This award is endowed with 5,000 euros each and has been donated by the Ernst Reuter Society, an association of sponsors, friends and alumni, since 1985. Up to 2004 it had been awarded 93 times.

Freedom price

Since 2007 the FU has been awarding the international freedom prize to “personalities of global importance who have made a contribution to freedom in a political, social or scientific context”. For example, the 2007 winners include the former President of the Republic of Korea: Kim Dae-Jung , the former Polish Foreign Minister Władysław Bartoszewski in 2008 and Carla del Ponte, an investigator against money laundering and corruption in 2014 . The award to Edward Snowden had also been discussed. In the end, however, he was only granted honorary membership of the university.

Cooperations and memberships

Guest favors from partner universities

At the international level, Freie Universität Berlin currently operates direct collaborations and partnerships with 114 universities on all continents . In addition, there are numerous cooperation agreements at the level of the departments and institutes, a total of 367 official international cooperations are recorded. Compared to other German universities, the FU Berlin has by far the most international contacts. The ties to scientific institutions in the USA are traditionally strong : The 32 official partners include renowned universities such as Columbia University , Cornell University , Duke University , Johns Hopkins University , Princeton University , Stanford University , the University of Chicago and Yale University . Stanford University even has its own campus within Freie Universität. The center in Berlin is integrated into the Overseas Studies Program and at the same time one of eight international overseas campuses , i.e. locations outside the USA.

In addition to direct academic cooperation between the universities on an international level, the exchange of researchers and students also takes place via the German Academic Exchange Service . In Europe, the university cooperates on student exchanges with the Socrates program and the Erasmus program , in which over 300 partner universities participate. These include universities such as the University of Cambridge , University of Edinburgh , University College London , University of Oxford , University of Bologna , Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa , École normal supérieure de Lyon , École normal supérieure in Paris , École polytechnique and Sciences Po . Currently, 15% of students at the university are foreigners. (2007)

The partner university Stanford University

In October 2008, the Law Department and numerous other international universities founded the London- based Center for Transnational Legal Studies , in which universities such as Georgetown University , King's College London , the University of Toronto , the National University of Singapore and the University of Melbourne are also involved are.

In February 2004, the Free University of Berlin and the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich founded a strategic partnership in Germany. Both universities have signed an agreement for intensive cooperation in numerous areas of university management and academic work in research and teaching . With this connection, which is so far unique in Germany, the science locations Munich and Berlin are to be taken into account and the science location Germany itself should be strengthened in international competition.

Freie Universität Berlin is a member of a large number of organizations and associations. The most important are the European University Association ( EUA ), the University Rectors ' Conference , the German Academic Exchange Service , the German Research Foundation and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . In addition, the university has been a member of the Studentische Kreditskasse e. V.


The Department of Economics

In the 1980s the university became a "mass university". After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the number of students in the winter semester 1991/92 peaked at 62,072, and the FU became the second largest German university after the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich . In the meantime there has been a massive reduction in the number of study places , the number of students in the 2015/16 winter semester is around 36,500 (excluding Charité ). About 59% of the students are female, 41% male, the proportion of foreign students is almost 21%.

The reduction in university places resulted from the changes in the university policy of the Berlin state government . The FU had to accept major cuts in its financial budget in favor of the Humboldt University in Berlin in order to be able to rebuild it after German reunification . The deficit budget situation in Berlin , which was partly caused by the Berlin banking scandal , led to further cuts. Furthermore, a reduction in the number of students should also reduce the negative side effects of a mass university.

Subjects of study

The FU Berlin sees itself as a traditional full university and covers a wide range of subjects with around 150 courses in 15 departments: Analogous to its departments, it offers courses in the humanities , social sciences , natural sciences , economics and law , and others in the Human and veterinary medicine . Although the FU has a differentiated range of subjects, engineering can only be studied in Berlin at the Technical University and the universities of applied sciences.

Institute for Theater Studies

In addition to the classic disciplines, a special feature of the FU is a large number of “small subjects” with a high degree of specialization. These include, for example, theater and film studies , Egyptology , Arabic studies , Byzantine studies , Jewish studies , social and cultural anthropology , Iranian studies , general and comparative literary studies and, in the natural sciences, bioinformatics . Certain subjects such as veterinary medicine , religious studies , Catholic theology , Turkish studies , journalism and communication studies , as well as in the natural sciences meteorology and biochemistry exist in the Berlin-Brandenburg region only at the Free University.

The FU also focuses on regional sciences. The three central institutes deal in an interdisciplinary manner with Eastern Europe , Latin America and North America ( John F. Kennedy Institute ). In addition, there are the areas of South and East Asia (East Asian seminar with a focus on Sinology , Japanese Studies and Korean Studies ), as well as the Orient . There are also centers for French and Italian studies . In the field of linguistics , the western and southern European languages ​​dominate. The Otto Suhr Institute (OSI) for Political Science is the largest institution of its kind in Europe with the largest number of chairs and students. More than a third of politics graduates in Germany have completed their studies at OSI.

Institute of Pharmacy

As a result of restructuring measures in the Berlin university landscape, some institutes and courses had to be closed since the end of the 1990s, including information science and musicology at the FU . The dismantling of regional parallel offers led to the relocation of library science and sports science from the FU to the HU, in return the latter had to close its veterinary medicine and pharmacy . Medical courses are offered at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin . The merger of the medical departments of FU and HU resulted in the joint faculty of both universities under the name Charité with several large locations.


With a few exceptions, the FU has only offered these degrees since the introduction of master's and bachelor's degree programs. The last application for old courses such as the Magister was possible in the 2006 summer semester. Medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry can also be studied at the Charité as state examination courses; in law, the first legal exam is the standard qualification. In addition, the FU has the right to award doctorates and habilitation .

With the exception of medical courses, first-year students must apply directly to the FU for their desired subject. In some subjects, enrollment is only possible for the winter or summer semester. All subjects at the FU have a limited number of study places ( NC ), which means that a certain number of new admissions per degree program, i.e. study places for students in the first semester, is set every year. This means that enrollment at Freie Universität in any desired subject requires at least the timely application.

In addition, every student can learn languages ​​in the language laboratory with an internationally accredited language certificate ( UNIcert ).

Exam advice

In 1994, compulsory examination advice was introduced; Since then, students have had to undergo examination advice if they exceed the standard period of study in the undergraduate and graduate courses. The level of performance is discussed with a university professor. Since 2001, examination counseling has also been linked to a performance review, which should lead to the fastest possible graduation. If students cannot provide evidence of sufficient academic achievements, written requirements are issued that must be fulfilled within two semesters . Otherwise, the examination advice will be repeated with a two-semester grace period. If students do not complete their studies, they are automatically de-registered ; the same applies if the consultations are missed. This measure is intended to reduce the quota of long-term students. The AStA of the FU therefore also speaks of “compulsory counseling”.

Semester fee and semester ticket

At the Free University of Berlin, a semester fee of 311.59 euros was levied for the winter semester 2019/20. This consisted of the enrollment / re-registration fee, the social contribution for the Studierendenwerk Berlin and the contribution to the student body . The contribution also contained the semester ticket , with which the public transport in the Berlin-Brandenburg transport association (Berlin ABC tariff area) could be used for six months. The ticket also entitles you to take a bicycle and children up to the age of six with you. As at other public universities in the State of Berlin, there are no tuition fees.


Teaching at Freie Universität Berlin is supported in a variety of ways by modern technologies and media, and e-learning has become an integral part of teaching. Berlin's largest university pursues a blended learning approach, i. H. a supplement to face-to-face teaching with online teaching offers and applications such as blackboard, blogs, wikis and electronic exams.

The Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) supports the dissemination and introduction of digital teaching and learning methods at the Free University. It advises the teachers on the implementation of e-learning offers and provides the digital technologies. In addition, CeDiS is involved in the development of new teaching and learning scenarios for university teaching. Numerous e-learning projects can be further developed or redesigned through the Support - Quality Pact for Teaching Initiative at Freie Universität Berlin, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research . Particular attention is paid to blended learning concepts in master’s or advanced training courses, to the dissemination of media-based, collaborative teaching and learning formats (e-learning 2.0) and to the expansion of audio and video applications in teaching.


In the Times Higher Education Ranking of 2009 of the 200 best universities in the world, the FU Berlin took 94th place worldwide and was thus able to improve by 78 places compared to 2005. This put it in third place overall in Germany. In the Times ranking in 2013 in the Top Universities by Reputation category , the FU Berlin was ranked 91-100 and was thus in 4th place in Germany. In the Times ranking in 2019, the FU Berlin was 104th worldwide and was no longer among the 100 best universities in the world.

In the category of the world's 100 best universities for arts and humanities (Top 100 Universities for Arts and Humanities) , the FU Berlin achieved 24th place worldwide in the 2008 ranking of the Times, making it Germany's best university for the humanities. With the result, the FU was in third place in Europe, behind Oxford and Cambridge, the best universities for the humanities.

In the QS World University Ranking , the Free University of Berlin came in 41st place worldwide in the field of law and is therefore twelfth in Europe and second in Germany.

In the World University Ranking 2013/14 of the Times Higher Education , Freie Universität reached 86th place and is fourth in Germany.

In the 2013 QS ranking, the FU Berlin is listed as the best German university in the subjects of history, linguistics and communication studies, making it 14th (history), 41st (linguistics) and 48th (communication studies) worldwide. The ranking also ranks the FU Berlin among the best universities in Germany in the subjects of psychology, English language, literature, educational science, geosciences and oceanography, chemistry, computer science and philosophy.


Weather station of the Meteorological Institute

Assignment of names to meteorological printed matter

The names for the low and high pressure areas that influence the weather in Europe have been given by the Meteorological Institute of the Free University of Berlin since 1954 . Since 1998, names have been given there in an annually changing cycle: In even years, the low pressure areas receive female and the high pressure areas male first names, in odd years the reverse is true. Many other European countries are adopting these names. For other regions of the world, other weather services assign names to meteorological pressure structures .

The Meteorological Institute launched the Wetterpate campaign at the end of 2002 . You can take over a sponsorship for meteorological printed matter via the Internet . The godfather can then determine the name that the university should christen the low or high and receives detailed material such as weather maps , certificates and the history of the printed image. The money goes to student weather monitoring at the institute in the former water tower on the Fichtenberg .

Robot soccer

FU-Fighters: World Champion 2004, 2005

The FU-Fighters , soccer-playing robots developed by scientists and students from the Institute for Computer Science , became world champions in the small-size league of the RoboCup in 2004 and 2005 . The team was able to achieve the title of Vice World Champion in the competitions of 1999, 2000 and 2003 and the team also won the RoboCup German Open 2005. Robot soccer is the implementation of the well-known team game soccer for mobile robots on the basis of artificial intelligence .

The FUmanoids, humanoid soccer robots that compete in the humanoid kidsize league, have been developed since 2006. They won the title of Vice World Champion at the RoboCup in 2009 and 2010. They also won the Technical Challenge in 2010.

Children's University

The FU organizes a children's university every summer . Second to sixth grade pupils can take part in events specially designed for them (hands-on courses) . There bring university teachers to children in workshops and lectures primarily scientific issues understandable closer and answer their questions. The university works together with schools and businesses .


The national and international importance of Freie Universität Berlin is illustrated by numerous well-known professors, scientists, well-known alumni and other famous people associated with the university.


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    • Vol. 1: The Free University of Berlin 1948–2007 - From the foundation to the excellence competition . Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-89971-474-6 .
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    • Vol. 4: The cultural and ethno-sciences at the Free University of Berlin . Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89971-856-0 .
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    • Vol. 6: Social sciences at the Free University of Berlin - educational science, psychology, university didactics, political science, research association SED state, communication studies, sociology and tourism . Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8471-0141-3 .
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    • Part I 1945–1949 Counterfoundation for what? Berlin 1973.
    • Part II 1949–1957 Consolidation at any price . Berlin 1974.
    • Part III 1958–1964 On the way to dissent . Berlin 1974.
    • Part IV 1964–1967 The crisis . Berlin 1975.
    • Part V 1967–1969 Violence and counter-violence . Berlin 1983. (with Jochen Staadt )
    • Part VI 1969–1973 The imposed reform . Berlin 1990. (Authors: Peter Jahn , Annemarie Kleinert, Jochen Staadt )
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  • Presidium of the Free University of Berlin (Ed.): Wissenschaft in Dahlem. A walk through the research landscape. Free University of Berlin in the Einstein year 2005. dahlem university press, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-934504-17-5 .
  • James F. Tent : Free University of Berlin 1948–1988. A German university in current affairs. Colloquium Verlag. Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-7678-0744-0 .

Web links

Commons : Freie Universität Berlin  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 3, 2005 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 27 ′ 11 ″  N , 13 ° 17 ′ 26 ″  E