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Humboldt University

A colorized photo of Humboldt University from Bebelplatz in Berlin
By Unknown author - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID ppmsca.00342.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain,

A Journey Through its Rich History

Humboldt University, located in the heart of Berlin, is one of the oldest universities in Germany and has a fascinating history that dates back to the early 19th century. Founded in 1810 by brothers Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, the university has played a significant role in shaping Germany's academic landscape. In this blog post, we will take a journey through the rich history of Humboldt University, from its founding to the present day.

The Founding of Humboldt University

Humboldt University was founded in 1810 by brothers Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, who were leading figures in German academia. Wilhelm von Humboldt was a philosopher and linguist, while his brother Alexander was a naturalist and explorer. They shared a vision for a university that would be dedicated to research, academic freedom, and the pursuit of knowledge.

Their vision was groundbreaking for its time, as it challenged the traditional model of higher education that focused primarily on religious and vocational training. Instead, they envisioned a university that would provide students with a holistic education, one that combined theoretical and practical learning. This idea of a university as a place for research and innovation would shape the modern university system in Germany and beyond.

The Early Years of Humboldt University

In its early years, Humboldt University was a small institution with just a few hundred students and a handful of professors. However, it quickly gained a reputation for academic excellence, attracting some of the brightest minds in Germany and beyond. In the years that followed, the university would play a key role in shaping German culture, politics, and science.

During the 19th century, Humboldt University became a center for intellectual and cultural exchange, with many leading figures in literature, philosophy, and the arts teaching and studying at the university. Notable alumni include the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the writer Franz Kafka, and the composer Robert Schumann.

Humboldt University during World War II

The Second World War had a significant impact on Humboldt University, as it did on many universities across Europe. The university was heavily damaged during the war, with many of its buildings destroyed or severely damaged.

Following the war, Humboldt University became a pawn in the Cold War struggle between East and West Germany. The university was located in the Soviet sector of Berlin, and in 1948, the Soviet authorities seized control of the university and reorganized it along Marxist-Leninist lines. Many professors and students were purged from the university during this time, and academic freedom was severely restricted.

Humboldt University Today

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Humboldt University underwent a period of renewal and revitalization. Today, the university is once again a leading center for research and education, with a strong commitment to academic freedom and interdisciplinary research.

Humboldt University offers a wide range of academic programs in various fields, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and law. The university also has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, which allows students and faculty to explore complex issues from different perspectives.


Humboldt University has a rich and fascinating history that has played a significant role in shaping German academia and culture. From its founding by the Humboldt brothers to its current position as a leading institution for research and education, the university has remained committed to academic freedom, interdisciplinary research, and the pursuit of knowledge.


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