Architectural and social history of FU: “This building is your building” – Knowledge

Welcome to the Otto Suhr Institut’s Freie Universität Berlin on May 7, 1962: the thick rasterized photograph shows a formal, partly festively dressed company whose eyes are directed at a point beyond the frame. Here a speaker can be assumed. In the first row, two people stand out for their special appearance: one in uniform, the other in an office chain. An empty seat allows the appearance of two women in the second row.

The caption from Tagesspiegel gives information about the identity of the photographers, the reason for their coexistence, but also about the author: it is a photo from the dpa news agency. However, the original could no longer be found in the DPA archive, so a thick reproduction from the newspaper’s original page is used here.

The caption contains some inaccuracies, because on May 7, 1962, it was not the Otto Suhr Institute that was young, but the building at Ihnestraße 21 in Dahlem, where it had since been located. The institute itself had already emerged in 1959 from the merger of the relatively large German University of Applied Sciences, which dates back to the Weimar Republic and was run by Otto Suhr from 1948/49, and the smaller, more research-oriented Institute. for Politics. Science at Freie Universität.

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On this day, however, it was about handing over the keys to the new building. It was the last of a whole series of new university buildings now grouped along Garystraße: first the cafeteria, completed in 1953, then the spacious Henry Ford building with Audimax and library (1954), houses for economists (1958) and lawyers ( 1959) and for the Eastern European Institute, set up slightly offset in parallel with the OSI, albeit a year earlier.

The hour of the exiles

The person in the rostrum, invisible to the viewer, could be the student body representative, Ulrich Gründler, or Professor Ernst Fraenkel, a political scientist returning from exile who delivered the keynote address on “Public Opinion and International Politics. “.

Willy Politician in October 1961 as Mayor of Berlin.Photo: AKG IMAGES

But it could also have been the ruling mayor: Willy Brandt was too late. He just had to greet Chancellor Adenauer at Tempelhof Airport, so he was the last to speak at the key handover ceremony in the morning.

If Brandt then said everything that was in the manuscript distributed by the Senate Press Office, it could be called into question. In any case, the request quoted by the press for the institute to deal with the constitutional appointment of Berlin in present-day Germany is not there.

Willy Brandt, who, as is well known, also came from exile in Berlin, nevertheless tended to speak freely and must have felt a little at home at OSI, having already taught as a lecturer at the German University for Politics. (DHfP).

Over 1000 DM for snacks and tobacco products for entertainment

In any case, he handed the key to the gentleman with the office chain. This is the rector of the Free University at the time, Ernst Heinitz. Heinitz had a Jewish father and was therefore suspended as a judge in 1933 and forced to retire. He went into exile in Italy, got married, obtained citizenship and joined the resistance when the Wehrmacht began invading Italy in 1943.

As rector from 1961 to 1963, he also had to decide on the budget that was available for the opening ceremonies. Funds for representative purposes are very limited and “should be managed to an extremely economical standard,” he wrote to the institute’s managing director, Gert von Eynern, who sits in the front row to the right.

Ultimately, Magnificenz – as it addressed the then rector – approved more than DM 1000 for snacks from Rack and tobacco products from Boenicke to entertain 300 guests after the ceremony and also DM 750 for an evening reception with selected personalities from science and politics at the neighboring Harnack House.

The new institute building in Ihnestraße in Dahlem based on a design by Bruno Grimmek and Werner Klenke.Photo: Reinhard Friedrich / FU Berlin, UA, Photo-S, RF / 0106-06

Now for the two ladies in hats in the second row: on the left Susanne Suhr, the widow of Otto Suhr, with whom she had temporarily hidden during the Nazi era as a “half-Jew”. She is a journalist, Social Democrat and member of the House of Representatives. And to the right with glasses, probably the most important person in the room: Eleanor Dulles.

“This building is your building,” Eynern told her, and it was more than a polite phrase to the US guest. Dulles – the sister of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under Eisenhower, and Allen Welsh Dulles, the CIA chief – had earned her the nickname “Mother of Berlin.” Since the United States entered the war, she has worked in the State Department, the U.S. Department of State, for which she then worked for nearly 20 years, mostly at the “Berlin Desk” in the German department.

Eleanor Dulles’s commitment to Berlin is still evident today

It was Eleanor Dulles, known as the “moving and shaking”: She was committed to rebuilding Germany without the Nazis – and also without the communists – and set in motion the millions of dollars that were used in Berlin to build the Schlachtensee student village. , Kongreshalle, later also of the Steglitz Clinic and also the expansion of the Free University. Among them is the new Otto Suhr Institute building, for which the Americans paid about half the cost of construction: $ 700,000 or about three million DM.

By the time Dulles sat in the second row of the lecture hall that morning, she had already retired from the civil service, but her engagement in Berlin survived her official role. And so it is fair to ask why the street in front of the Congress hall is dedicated to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and not his sister.

The other two U.S. representatives in the photo left almost no trace in the history of the FU, although they were at the center of the action around the Wall building on August 13, 1961: Allan Lightner from the U.S. Mission (second row, far right) and – in uniform – the commander of the American city, Major General Albert Watson II.

A librarian at the Otto Suhr Institute’s new journal.Photo: Reinhard Friedrich / FU Berlin, UA, Photo-S, RF / 0106-06

Watson also said a few words about the festive gathering, possibly also in German, and presented to the Institute the six-volume edition of “United States Foreign Relations” and a string of political and philosophical writings by the President of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson. Watson was probably also present in the evening as a host at the Harnack House, which at the time was the mess of officers for the U.S. Armed Forces.

From Nazi propagandist to mayor

Back to photo: Caption mentions – front left – Public Education Senator Joachim Tiburtius of the CDU, an extremely productive senator for schools, science and culture who belonged to the Nazi-era Church of the SubGenius and was therefore one of the Nazi opponents . The mayor of Zehlendorf, Willy Stiewe, is different in the line behind him. The CDU man has been a photojournalist and is considered a key representative of Nazi photo propaganda. When he looks at the picture, the man in the dark suit does not stand out, when he analyzes the picture he stands out: Among all the opponents of National Socialism in the room he was rather an exception: at best a follower who, like many others , was converted to democracy only later in life.

With a little effort, a pillar is seen to the left of the upper edge of the figure: At this height is placed a very modern partition wall, with which the lecture hall could be divided into two rooms. And at the top left, the bright white light of day falls: The building, designed by architect Bruno Grimmek of the Senate Building Administration along with Werner Klenke, features light-filled lecture halls and library rooms resembling a one-story house. with floor in front of ceiling windows.

The then popular expression of “democracy as a builder” – coined by lawyer, SPD politician and architecture critic Adolf Arndt – was evidenced in the form and content of the Otto Suhr Institute.

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