Berlin is a city-state and the capital of Germany, with about 3.7 million residents of high diversity and an area of about 900 square kilometers, one third of which comprises forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals and lakes. After World War II, the city was famously divided, mirroring the entire country, into East and West, and West Berlin was surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989). Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany.
Berlin is a modern, global, architecturally diverse city of culture, politics, media and science, and a popular tourist destination; it also serves as a transportation hub and has a highly efficient public transportation network. The city-state boasts many high-tech firms and a strong service sector, encompassing numerous creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention locations, and is home to not only Freie Universität but also TU Berlin and Humboldt University. The many museums, performing arts and entertainment venues, opportunities to view sporting events and engage in night life and culinary offerings enhance the quality of life.
Freie Universität Berlin was founded on December 4, 1948, by students, scholars, and scientists with the support of the American allied forces and politicians in Berlin. Generous donations from the United States enabled Freie Universität to build some of its central facilities, including the Benjamin Franklin University Hospital and the Henry Ford Building. In a nod to the history surrounding the university’s founding, the seal of Freie Universität still features the words truth, justice, and freedom.
Freie Universität is internationally networked, currently maintaining roughly 105 partnerships at the university level, and about 330 university partnerships within the Erasmus academic exchange network and 45 institute partnerships. Of the 31,500 students enrolled in bachelor's and master's degree programs, 20 percent are from abroad; this is true for 33% of the 4,400 doctoral candidates.
Freie Universität is both a broad-based university, with 15 departments and central institutes offering over 150 degree programs across a wide range of subjects, and a leading research institution. It is one of the German universities successful in all three funding lines in the federal and state Excellence Initiative, thereby receiving additional funding for its institutional future development strategy. Freie Universität is located in the southwest of Berlin, in the garden district of Dahlem, which had already become a top-ranked location for research and study in the early 20th century.
The Max Planck Society was established in 1948 and is Germany's most prestigious non-profit successful research organization. The Max Planck Society enables basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences, and humanities, its members come from major sectors of academic and public life. It comprises a total of 83 institutes and research facilities (as of January 1, 2016), 5 institutes and one research facility are situated abroad. Equally funded by the German federal and state governments, the Max Planck Society had an annual budget of 1.6 billion Euros in 2016.
The Harnack House of the Max Planck Society was founded by the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (KWG) on the initiative of its first president, the theologian Adolf von Harnack, and of its then chairman, Friedrich Glum in 1929 in Dahlem. It serves as a conference center to support German scientific and intellectual life.