The Kaiser's Chemists: Science and Modernization in Imperial Germany

By Jeffrey Allan Johnson | Go to book overview

4 Must There Be a "President" for Every Science?: Sources of Opposition to the Plan

It would certainly very much enhance the position of the Dual Alliance if we could take the leadership in this matter away from Dulsberg. --Leo Gans to the directors of Hoechst, November 1906

Must there be a "president" for every science in the German Empire? --Adolf Martens, Director, Prussian Materials Testing Office, to Prussian Minister of Education, December 1906


The Sources of Opposition in Industry, Agriculture, and Science

To be approved by the Imperial German government, the project for an Imperial Chemical Institute had to obtain support not only from within the chemical industry, but also from heavy industry and agriculture, the most influential branches of the German economy. It also had to adapt to the priorities of the Prusso-German bureaucracy itself. Unfortunately the project quickly encountered opposition in the chemical industry and other branches, as well as hostility from some bureaucrats and even a few scientists. The sources of opposition to the plan can be understood better by looking at them within the context of German social, economic, and political institutions.

Opposition to the plan arose from two major sources, one related to perceived shortcomings in the existing Imperial Physical and Technical Institute on which the Imperial Chemical Institute was to be modeled, the other related to the new institute's expected role in the German political economy. The Imperial Physical Institute had in fact faced occasional public and political hostility in the past. Its scientists were repeatedly obliged to defend their institute against the ever-present threat of budgetary emasculation. Moreover, the gift of land in the value of half a million marks, with which Werner von Siemens had in 1884 ensured that the proposal for an Imperial Institute would be accepted by the Imperial

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