Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences


November 30, 2021

The Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences (German: Königlich-Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften), originally Kurfürstlich-Brandenburgische Societät der Wissenschaften (German: Science Society of the Electorate of Brandenburg), was founded in Berlin March 18, 1700, four years after the Berlin Academy of the Arts (German: Akademie der Künste, Berlin) to which the term “Berlin Academy” may also refer.


The first life president of the Berlin Academy is Leibniz. This body, the main members of which were either people from the Refuge or the French, will be a "provincial" Academy compared to the Paris Academy of Sciences for the very European intellectual world of the 18th century. Frederick II of Prussia will make it the center of the Aufklärung, the German version of the French Enlightenment. Several French people in temporary difficulties because of their writings or their thoughts will find themselves there, including Alphonse Des Vignoles, Voltaire and Maupertuis (who will chair it) from 1745. The death of Sophie-Charlotte of Hanover and the War of the Spanish Succession delayed the start of work on the Academy until 1710, but in 1744 the Academy was "renewed". It was divided into four classes: physics or experimental philosophy, mathematics, speculative philosophy, belles-lettres or philology. Each class met once a week; academics could take part in the work of all sections. In 1746 Maupertuis and Formey were entrusted, one with the presidency, the other with the perpetual secretariat of the learned company. Frederick II accepted the title and fulfilled the duties of a "protector of the Academy"; he prescribed the use of the French language. substituted for Latin, and the regulations, in agreement with the opinions of most academics, provided in particular that the most perfect independence of doctrines would be tolerated in religious matters. After the death of Maupertuis, the king directed the Academy with the assistance of d'Alembert, who submitted to him, from Paris, the advice of a judicious and disinterested spirit.


At the height of the French occupation (1806-1812), the Academy underwent a profound reform, culminating in the statutes of January 24, 1812: it abandoned its prerogatives in matters of teaching at the brand new University of Berlin. From 1815, the resumption of scientific work took the form of joint projects (more than fifty), directed by different commissions, each chaired by a titular academician. These commissions: Greco-Roman Antiquity, Germany, East, Prussia, etc. supervised the research of scientists who were, in a way, employed by academics. Since 1945, these commissions have become institutes dependent on the Academy. With the advent of the Third Reich, the coming to heel of the academy first resulted in the expulsion of Jewish scholars. By the decree of June 8, 1939, the Academy henceforth reported to the Führerprinzip, with the setting aside of the president, vice-president and two general secretaries, replaced by a “director” appointed at discretion by the chancellery.

Contemporary period

On July 1, 1946, the Academy was reopened by the Soviet military administration in Germany under the name Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. In 1972, it was renamed to the Academy of Sciences of the GDR. The Academy is both a learned society, whose membership, obtained by co-optation, represents official recognition, but also, unlike many other academies of sciences, a research organization overseeing a whole community of science. extra-university research institutes. With the entry into force

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