It would not do to make a leap in the dark, to have the Kaiser call upon the German willingness to sacrifice and then to face results that would fully preclude the completion of the great plan. --Official memorandum on the founding of research institutes, February 1910
I am persuaded that our expectations will everywhere be exceeded, and a golden rain will pour down as soon as the Kaiser's call resounds. --Civil Cabinet ChiefValentini to Friedrich Schmidt, June 1910
It may seem paradoxical that after initially dismissing the idea of building a research institute with support from the Prussian government, Fischer hoped in 1909 to do so after all. If the Kaiser expressed an interest in the plans, support for new research institutes could potentially become an official priority, except that all the other official priorities with their financial constraints remained unchanged. This raised once again the characteristic problem of conservative modernization: how to create a new institution without infringing on the rights of any existing ones. The Kaiser's interest could not magically create the funds--or could it?
When Friedrich Althoff died in the fall of 1908, the Prussian Ministry of Education was still far from realizing his old dream of a "German Oxford," a complex of academic research institutes in Dahlem. The Kaiser then revived hope for the plans; at the request of Rudolf von Valentini, the chief of Wilhelm's Civil Cabinet, Friedrich Schmidt, Althoff's successor in charge of academic affairs, dutifully sorted through Althoff's papers and summarized all the requests that Althoff had received over the years from Fischer, Nernst, and other scholars desiring land and facilities in Dahlem. In the summer of 1907 Fischer had worked out a brief memorandum for