Hubert Markl

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Hubert Simon Markl (born August 17, 1938 in Regensburg ; † January 8, 2015 in Konstanz ) was a German zoologist , behavioral scientist and science manager. From 1986 to 1991 he was President of the German Research Foundation and from 1996 to 2002 President of the Max Planck Society . A significant achievement of his work is the processing of the events within the Kaiser Wilhelm Society during the time of National Socialism .


After visiting the Old Grammar School in Regensburg and the study of biology , the chemistry and geography in Munich Hubert Markl was in 1962 at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Dr. rer. nat. PhD in zoology. This was followed by research stays at Harvard University and Rockefeller University and, in 1967, the habilitation in zoology at the University of Frankfurt am Main with the subject of the communication behavior of social insects .

From 1968 to 1973 Hubert Markl was Professor and Director of the Zoological Institute at the Technical University of Darmstadt . From 1974 he was professor of biology at the University of Konstanz . His successor was Axel Meyer in 1997 . In 1976 he founded the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology . From 1977 to 1983 Markl was Vice President of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and its President from 1986 to 1991. In 1993 he became president of the newly founded Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences . From 1993 to 1994 he was chairman of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors . From June 1996 to June 2002 he was President of the Max Planck Society . In this function he was the first president who did not come from the Max Planck Society itself.

In 1984 he received the Bavarian Literature Prize ( Karl Vossler Prize ) for scientific representations of literary rank. In 1978 he was elected a full member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences . Since 1985 he has been a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . Markl was a member of the Siemens AG Supervisory Board from 1998 to 2003 . Markl was also an honorary member of the Max Planck Society.

Markl lived in Constance ; his son, the geoscientist Gregor Markl, teaches at the University of Tübingen.

Work areas

His fields of work were sensory physiology and the social behavior of animals as well as topics from the field of nature and environmental protection and evolutionary biology . In 2000, he also initiated the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) in the Max Planck Society , an English-language doctoral program that mainly brings international doctoral students to Germany.

He was the first president of the Max Planck Society to investigate the work and crimes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG), the predecessor organization of the Max Planck Society, during the Nazi era . To this end, Markl set up a commission that worked from 1999 to 2005. In 2005 , Markl published a “personal review” in the Merkur magazine about the initiated research program on the history of the KWS during the Nazi regime . On June 7, 2001, Markl apologized at a symposium in Berlin on behalf of the Max Planck Society to surviving victims of Nazi human experiments by the physician Josef Mengele . Spokespersons for victims' associations who were present were Eva Mozes Kor from the USA and Jona Laks from Israel. As President of the Max Planck Society, Markl declared in March 2001 that he did not want to give in to the "increasing political pressure for greater control and participation in the Max Planck Society". Furthermore, he declared in May 2001 that in view of the interest in an increased foreign involvement of the MPG he did not "actively want to establish any institutes abroad [...]". In connection with the discussion about the Excellence Initiative , Markl published the article Germany in the case of the rhetoric of excellence in October 2008 , in which he emphasized that outstanding achievements in science and research are always based on an impeccable mediocrity and that rhetoric of excellence is "only drunk".

Awards and honors



  • as publisher: Evolution of social behavior: hypotheses and empirical tests: report of the Dahlem Workshop on Evolution of Social Behavior, Hypotheses and Empir. Testing. Berlin 1980. [Dahlem Conferences]. Verlag Chemie, Weinheim et al. 1980, ISBN 3-527-12020-3 .
  • Nature as a cultural task. About the relationship between humans and living nature. (= Knaur Sachbuch. 3896). Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-426-03896-X .
  • Science against fear of the future. Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-446-19493-2 .
  • Beautiful new person? Piper, Munich / Zurich 2002, ISBN 3-492-04460-3 .


  • Challenged by the unknown. The science between powerlessness and overestimation. In: FAZ. October 23, 1999, Pictures and Times III.
  • Is man a sheep? At least only if he chooses it himself. About clones, embryonic stem cells and monozygous multiples. In: FAZ. May 19, 2000, p. 48.
  • To learn from Caesar means to learn to research. Human dignity dictates that a new bed be constantly prepared for the Rubicon. In: FAZ. June 25, 2001, p. 52.
  • A caterpillar is by no means a butterfly. When a person becomes a real “person” is entirely our decision. In: FAZ. November 27, 2001, p. 49.


  • Wilhelm Krull : Hubert Markl (1938–2015): Biologist who steered German research organizations through reunification. Obituary. In: Nature . Volume 518, 2015, p. 168, doi: 10.1038 / 518168a .
  • Hans-Joachim Freund : Obituary for Hubert Markl at the meeting of the class for natural sciences and medicine on March 25, 2015. In: Yearbook North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences (2016), pp. 97-101.
  • Thomas Holstein: Hubert Markl (August 17, 1938 - January 8, 2015). In: Yearbook of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences for 2015. Heidelberg 2016, pp. 330–333 ( online ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Tireless admonisher and intellectual leading figure. Report of death to the MPG.
  2. ^ Theo CM Bakker, James FA Traniello: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology at 40. In: October 29, 2016, accessed January 13, 2019 .
  3. ^ Winner of the Karl Vossler Prize ( Memento from June 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture, Science and Art.
  4. ^ Members of the HAdW since it was founded in 1909. Hubert Markl. Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, accessed June 20, 2016 .
  5. ^ Document from Siemens AG on the members of the Supervisory Board (PDF file; 48 kB).
  6. See the MPG page at , data under the “Honorary Members” area. As of 2014, Markl was the only honorary member of the Max Planck Society.
  7. Hubert Markl: The professor with the open office door. In: Südkurier. on Markl's 75th birthday in 2013.
  8. The petrologist Gregor Markl was appointed to the University of Tübingen at the age of 28. In: Der Tagesspiegel. November 19, 1999.
  9. see homepage of the commission “Kaiser Wilhelm Society in National Socialism” at
  10. Hubert Markl: A very personal review - The Max Planck Society and the research program on the history of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society under National Socialism. In: Mercury . 675 (2005), pp. 586-596.
  11. ^ Robert Koenig: Max Planck Offers Historic Apology. In: Science Magazine. June 15, 2001, pp. 1979-1982.
  12. see President Markl apologizes to the victims (2001), on , accessed on March 24, 2015.
  13. ^ Biosciences and human experiments at Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes: The connection to Auschwitz, speeches at the opening event , PDF documentation of the Max Planck Society, 2001
  14. ^ See Eckart Henning , Marion Kazemi : Chronicle of the Kaiser Wilhelm, Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science: 1911–2011; Data and sources. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-428-13623-0 , p. 765 and p. 767.
  15. Germany in the trap of the rhetoric of excellence , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , October 30, 2008, p. 10.
  16. ^ GDCh: Honorary Membership
  17. entry on Markl; Hubert Simon (1938-2015) in the Archives of the Royal Society , London
  18. The zoologist and founding president of the BBAW Hubert Markl has been elected honorary member of the Science Information Service (; Retrieved June 17, 2013.