Publication Date

May 1, 1997

Pressure from the international community of historians (including support from the AHA: see Perspectives, January 1997, 19-22 and March 1997, 3) appears to have forestalled plans to close the Max Planck Institute for Historical Studies at Gottingen (MPIG). The positions that were to be “given back” to the federal and state governments will be allocated by joint efforts of several institutes of the Geisteswissenschaftliche Sektion, including the MPIG. During a press conference on March 10, the president of the MPIG assured the supreme decisionmaking body of the Max Planck Society (the Senat) that the “responsibility of the MPIG for both the employed and for science” will guide further decisions about the number of positions to be cut and the timing of such reductions. One of the factors that will influence these decisions (although it is not discussed in public) is a parallel drive to reconsider the “profile” of the MPIG.

At the same time, the Senat confirmed other plans that had been part of the whole package of last October: Two institutes will be shut down completely (one of the institutes for biology at Tübingen and the Verhaltensphysiologie at Seewiesen); one institute (Aeronomie) will be cut in half. However, some of these decisions won’t go into effect immediately.

Reacting to the new developments, Alf Ludtke, the well-known historian of everyday life and MPIG fellow, said, "We are, of course, very, very relieved! At the same time we know that colleagues at other institutes did not manage so well—although they definitely deserve better. So, we are not sure whether there is time for rejoicing. But there is time for thanking all of those who helped one way or the other!"

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