Chronology: A foundation of knowledge - for 60 years

60th anniversary

On October 1, 2022, the Foundation celebrates a grand 'Festival of Science' at Herrenhausen Palace. In addition to entertaining lectures, the festival has a strong emphasis on active participation. The public is invited to exchange ideas with the many well-known researchers present for the occasion, gain first-hand knowledge of some of the astonishing projects funded by the Foundation, go on a discovery trail with virtual reality, and support their chosen favorites at the Science Slam. As Georg Schütte, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation puts it: "We operate worldwide – and have been closely connected with Hanover and Lower Saxony for 60 years. We want to celebrate this partnership together!"

 

funding strategy cover
(Illustration: Martins Rudzitis – gettyimages)

New funding strategy

Working from home hasn’t affected the initiative and pace of innovation among the Foundation’s staff. Thanks to digital technology and virtual meetings, they manage to ensure the smooth functioning of all work processes, despite the pandemic. And 2021 sees the emergence of a new funding strategy accompanied by a realignment of the funding portfolio. A time of change, ushering in exciting new perspectives.

 

two men shake hands
Dr. Wilhelm Krull (li.) and Dr. Georg Schütte (photo: Jens Rehländer/VolkswagenStiftung)

New Secretary General

On January 1, 2020, Dr. Georg Schütte (on the right in our photo) takes over as Secretary General of the Foundation office in Hannover-Döhren with its nearly 100 members of staff. Schütte was previously State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for nine years. His predecessor, Dr. Wilhelm Krull, leaves the Foundation on reaching retirement age, following more than two decades of successful work.

 

Woman in museum archive
(photo: Gerhard Westrich for Volkswagen Foundation)

Research in museums

Over the past ten years, the Foundation's 'Research in Museums' program offered support for small and medium-sized museums, in particular in the area of conducting more research on their collections and communicating the findings to a broader public. One of the goals was to promote cooperation with research institutions, whereby the involvement of young researchers played a major role. The overall aim was to make museums more visible as places of cultural, ecological and historical memory.

 

lottery wheel
(Illustration: Giacomo Bagnara)

Drawing lots for grants in a partially randomized procedure

A new selection process being explored by the Foundation attracts international attention: The idea here is that grants are awarded not only by a review panel, but also by drawing lots. This is a controlled experimental attempt to open a window of opportunity for highly complex interdisciplinary projects, whose degree of innovation is not always apparent to even the most experienced reviewer.

 

2016
(photo: Takver via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Support for researchers forced to leave their country

The coup in Turkey, the war in Syria – time and again, history shows just how vulnerable freedom can be.  One of the consequences is that researchers are forced to flee their home country. To alleviate their hardship and that of their families, projects already supported by the Foundation in Germany can receive additional funding to employ suitably experienced forced migrants from Turkey and Syria. Since 2021, this max. 2-year funding opportunity is open to researchers from Afghanistan.

 

Trilateral partnerships

In the midst of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Foundation promotes cross-border cooperation projects between the two countries and partners in Germany. The call for proposals under the 'Trilateral Partnerships' program prompts some fierce criticism in political circles – and grateful enthusiasm on the part of the grantees, who stand to receive up to 300,000 euros so they can continue their collaboration in the spirit intended.

 

 

Man with technical devices
(photo: Christian Burkert for Volkswagen Foundation)

Peter Paul Ewald Fellowships 

Free electron lasers with X-rays open up completely new research possibilities in the natural sciences. High technology with enormous future potential. With this in mind, the Foundation initiates a fellowship program named after Peter Paul Ewald, a pioneer of X-ray methods. This capacity-building measure gives young researchers the chance to pursue their projects at the 'European XFEL' research campus, which opened near Hamburg in 2017.

 

Herrenhausen Symposium: Dual Use Research on Microbes

Several years before the Corona pandemic (emerging in 2020), the high-profile Herrenhausen Symposium with the title 'Dual Use Research on Microbes' addresses the risks of virus research. Participants from all over the world call for a strict set of rules and the exercise of public control to minimize the risk of lethal viruses escaping from laboratories and triggering a biological catastrophe. To this day, little has been done in this direction, although suspicions persist that the 2020 coronavirus originated in a laboratory in China.

 

 

Freigeist Fellowships

To become a Freigeist Fellow, young research personalities must not only bring outstanding technical expertise to the table, but also the capability to look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline and combine critical analytical skills with new perspectives and approaches to solutions. The Foundation rewards particularly innovative applications with up to 2.2 million euros.

 

Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover
(photo: Eberhard Franke for Volkswagen Foundation)

Inauguration of the Herrenhausen Palace Conference Center

Based on designs created by the eighteenth-century court architect Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves, Herrenhausen Palace is rebuilt on the site where the former residence of the Guelph royal family was bombed in 1943. Developed as a property investment of the Foundation, it is now a modern conference venue.

 

 Illustration with tightrope walker
(illustration: Nicolás Aznárez for Volkswagen Foundation)

Experiment! - In search of risk-prone research ideas

Whether adaptive plants, nanodrones or Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC): With its funding initiative 'Experiment!', the Foundation shows it is also open to particularly experimental ideas from the natural, engineering and life sciences. The response is tremendous, with 704 applications received in the first call for proposals.

 

 Lecture at Bellevue Palace
Symposium at Bellevue Palace, Berlin (Foto: David Ausserhofer)

50th anniversary

The Volkswagen Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary at two very special locations in Berlin: On March 15, 2012, the festive ceremony took place in the Schlüterhof of the German Historical Museum. On March 16, 2012, the Foundation hosted a symposium at Bellevue Palace to discuss the future challenges facing science funding organisations.

 

People in the inner courtyard of the German Historical Museum
Ceremony in the German Historical Museum in Berlin (photo: David Ausserhofer)

Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities

The Volkswagen Foundation expands its transatlantic academic relations with the funding initiative 'Postdoctoral Fellowships in the Humanities at Universities and Research Institutes in the USA'. As of 2012, postdoctoral fellows from the USA are given the opportunity to pursue their academic work during a one-year stay in Germany. The Foundation's partner here is the Mellon Foundation.

 

 several scientists with research objects
(photo: Gulliver Theis for Volkswagen Foundation)

'sciencemovies' video blog 

Under the heading 'sciencemovies', eight research teams produce short videos on projects being implemented all over the world. After receiving suitable training, the funded scientists film the reports themselves – science "straight from the horse’s mouth", so to speak. Over the course of the projects, they produce three-minute films on individual aspects of their research, which – after professional editing – are posted on the Internet in March 2011.

 

2010
Der Kongress in Hannover im Convention Center CC, Messegelände.
 View of the congress hall
The congress took place in the Convention Center CC at the exhibition center Hannover.

Congress 'Our Common Future'

Ten years after the EXPO in Hanover – and as a highlight of the scientific program of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 – the Volkswagen Foundation, Deutsche Messe and the Mercator Foundation organize the international congress titled 'Our Common Future', held from November 2 to 6, 2010 in cooperation with the City of Hanover and RUHR.2010. The occasion brings together representatives from the fields of science, business, the judiciary and culture, as well as young researchers from all over the world, who meet in Hanover and Essen to discuss central issues surrounding the future of society.

 

Listeners at the first Herrenhausen Talks
Herrenhausen talks on contemporary music on May 17, 2011 in the "Schlossküche" in Herrenhausen. On the podium from left to right: Dr. Ulrich Kuehn, Prof. Dr. Reinhard copyz, Prof. Peter Ruzicka, Wolfgang Schreiber, Prof. Carin Levine.

Kick-off event for 'Herrenhausen Talks'

In the new event series 'Herrenhäuser Gespräche' (Herrenhausen Talks), the Volkswagen Foundation and NDR Kultur present current topics from science and culture that impact on society in general. In the spirit of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Herrenhausen is to be experienced beyond the borders of the city of Hanover as a place of intellectual discourse. The Herrenhausen Talks are the prelude to various, predominantly scientifically oriented series that the Volkswagen Foundation would like to establish over the long term at the rebuilt Herrenhausen Palace.

 

People at closing event
Closing event of the ideas competition "Evolution today" on December 10 and 11, 2009 in Hanover.

Ideas competition 'Evolution today'

To celebrate "Darwin Year", a call is announced for an ideas competition titled "Evolution Today". The aim is to support ideas that explicitly communicate the topicality and relevance of the subject of evolution to a broader public and in an appealing and easily understandable way. A total of twelve projects are selected for presentation to the general public for the first time during "Darwin Year" 2009. An overview of the projects is provided in the brochure "Evolution" (in German, pdf download).

 

Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration

The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration is established as a joint initiative of the Mercator Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation. Eight foundations are members. In addition to Stiftung Mercator and the Volkswagen Foundation, the eight members include Bertelsmann Stiftung, Freudenberg Stiftung, Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung, Körber-Stiftung, Vodafone Stiftung and ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. The Council of Experts is an independent and not-for-profit monitoring, evaluation and advisory body that takes a position on integration and migration policy issues and offers action-oriented policy advice. The results of its work are published in an annual report.

 

Fellowships at Harvard

The Foundation announces its first call for 'Fellowships at Harvard', in the context of which it funds one-year research and teaching stays for young German humanities scholars at the Harvard Humanities Center .

 

old painting of Herrenhausen Palace
Herrenhausen Castle around 1895 (photo: Photoglob AG, Zürich, Switzerland or Detroit Publishing Company, Detroit, Michigan; Library of Congress, Washington, D,C., Prints & Photographs Division, Photochrom Collection, [reproduction number ppmsca-00449])

Herrenhausen Palace Conference Center

The Foundation's Board of Trustees decides to rebuild Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, which is to be used as a museum and a center for scientific conferences.

 

'Niedersächsisches Vorab': a total of 1,000,000,000 euros approved

Since it was founded, the Volkswagen Foundation reaches the first billion euros in approved funding for projects in the program 'Niedersächsisches Vorab'. 

 

 People stand around a computer
As a Dilthey Fellow, Dr. Dietmar Süss (on the PC) studies modern air warfare, its background and effects.

Focus on the Humanities: Dilthey Fellowships and Opus Magnum

Together with the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, the Volkswagen Foundation gives a strong boost to research in the humanities in Germany with its 'Focus on the Humanities' program. The funding initiative comprises two components: 'Dilthey Fellowships' for highly qualified young post-docs in the early stages of their academic careers, and 'Opus Magnum' for outstanding established scholars who wish to write a major scholarly work.

 

people on a staircase
"Autum Seminar: European Foreign and Security Policy after Enlargement" from September 27 to October 2, 2005 in Budapest. Farewell photo of the participants.

Research and training program on CFSP and ESDP funded by European foundations

Together with its partner foundations Compagnia di San Paolo in Turin and the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in Stockholm, the Volkswagen Foundation launches the first coordinated research and training program funded by European foundations on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). With this offering, the foundations aim to support young European leaders in developing new approaches to Europe's foreign and security policy free from political constraints and beyond the confines of their respective national perspectives.

 

3,000,000,000 euros

After another eleven years, the Foundation reaches its third billion euros in funding.

 

Collection of images on migration
The study group of Prof. Dr. Ludger Pries, University of Bochum, researches the topic "Distribution and contextual conditions of transnational migrant organizations in Europe".

Future issues of our society

On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, the Volkswagen Foundation launches the funding initiative 'Future Issues of Our Society'. For more than a decade, the program attracts a great deal of attention far beyond the scientific community with calls on topics such as research on aging, migration and integration, as well as problems surrounding transformation of the welfare state.

 

View of the exhibition
Exhibition "sciene + fiction"

science + fiction

From December 2002 to March 2003, the exhibition 'science + fiction. Zwischen Nanowelt und globaler Kultur' can be seen at the Sprengel Museum Hannover. The Volkswagen Foundation and Sprengel Museum Hannover invite artists and scientists to work together on focal points of contemporary research.

 

music group in India
The preservation and presentation of non-material cultural assets - especially music - in Indian museums is the focus of Dr. Lidia Guzy. She works with Dr. Susan Kamel and Dr. Rainer Hatoum in a tandem of three on museum practice in different cultures.

Tandemprogramm

Launch of the 'Tandem Program to Promote Interdisciplinary Collaboration Among Postdocs'. The aim is to give young postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to team up with a peer and to gain experience in independent interdisciplinary research at an early stage in their careers and thus build complementary capacity in tandem.

 

'Future Controversy'

In the run-up to the EXPO in Hanover, the Volkswagen Foundation organizes eight public symposia in which eminent international research scholars discuss human rights, the world of work, sustainable development, climate change, biotechnology, the information society, enlightenment, science and technology. The results of this discourse are published in an anthology entitled 'Zukunftsstreit' ('future controversy').

 

'Niedersächsisches Vorab': almost 1.5 billion deutschmarks approved

Funding in the 'Niedersächsisches Vorab' program approaches 1.5 billion deutschmarks (approx. 760 million euros), nearly 28 percent of all funding approved since the Foundation came into existence.

 

Wissenschaftsforum Berlin
The WFB is situated at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

ScienceForum Berlin

The Foundation also invests in real estate. In May 1999, the office building WissenschaftsForum Berlin was inaugurated at Gendarmenmarkt, where several major German scientific organizations have their headquarters. The Foundation realized the building project through its subsidiary IVA KG, one of three real estate investment companies founded in 1974.

 

Men in white coats in an office with a computer
Prof. Dr. Christian Büchel, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, researches in the field of neuroscience.

Neuroscience in focus

As a contribution to 'Decade of the Brain', the Foundation launches the funding initiative 'Dynamics and Adaptivity of Neuronal Systems'. Following its commitment in the field of 'Neuroimmunology' (1988 to 1998), the new program points the way ahead for neuroscience and the use of imaging techniques in cognition research in Germany. 

 

Porträt Wilhelm Krull
Dr. Wilhelm Krull

New Secretary General

Dr. phil. Wilhelm Krull is appointed Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation.

 

 man with seal
Prof. Dr. Guido Dehnhardt, funded via a Lichtenberg professorship, during a training session with a seal.

Person-related funding

The 'Junior Research Groups at Universities' program is considered to be the germ cell of the Foundation's extremely successful 'person-related funding'. In the new millennium, it is followed by such successful funding initiatives as the Dilthey and Schumpeter Fellowships and the Lichtenberg Professorships.

 

Performance through self-reliance

This program strengthens the Foundation's commitment to reform in the area of higher education – ten universities nationwide are to benefit from it. The Foundation continues its engagement in this field of action up to the present.

 

two men in an archive
Dr. Stollwerk and Dipl.-Phys. Lehmann in autumn 1986 while researching in the city and university library in Frankfurt am Main.

Handbook of historical literature

Research on this major project began as early as 1984, and the first of 47 volumes is presented in 1993 – the last work appearing around ten years later. The compendium indexes German-language literature in a large number of countries and regions from the beginning of book printing to the end of the 19th century. For the period before 1912, this historical compendium of German literature, the Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände, represents the most comprehensive access to German-language literature. 

Men with fur hats and technical devices
Lake Baikal as a neutrino trap: a German-Russian team sinking the detectors used to detect high-energy cosmic rays.

Central Asia and the Caucasus in the focus of science

With two funding programs targeting the natural and engineering sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences, the Foundation opens the field for cooperation with research scholars in Central and Eastern Europe.

 

technical drawing
Coils for correcting the electron beam of the microscope.

Viewing aid for electron microscope

A special electron microscope resulting from a Foundation grant attracts a lot of attention. It has a kind of 'goggle' that corrects the spherical errors of the microscope lens. This achieves a much higher resolution.

 

Investment Advisory Committee

An Investment Advisory Committee is established to advise the Secretary General of the Foundation on asset investment.

 

New name for the Foundation

The German Volkswagenwerk Stiftung is renamed VolkswagenStiftung.

 

Men at the negotiating table signing a document
Signing of the agreement on the "Sammlung deutscher Drucke" (collection of German prints). From left to right: Dr. Kaltwasser, Prof. Raabe, Mr. Vogt, Mr. Dugall, Dr. Landwehrmeyer. Standing: Mr. Dege, Mrs. Dr. Zarnitz, Herr Möller

Collection of German prints

In a study on academic librarianship, written in the course of an academy fellowship of the Foundation and published in 1983, Professor Bernhard Fabian advocated the idea of a decentralized, 'distributed national library'. In 1989, this study led to the joint declaration by five major German libraries to collaborate on creating a complete 'Collection of German Prints', culminating in a segmental Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (National German Library).

 

Informational journey to the GDR

Visits to scientific institutions in Berlin, Dresden, Halle, Jena and Leipzig, resulting in possible leads for later funding (from March 1989).

 

China Program

The China Program is still considered a representative example of highly sustainable region-based research funding (runs until 1997).

 

 Experimental apparatus in a beehive
"Spying in the Animal Kingdom" was the title of a project in the Life Sciences competition that explored the complicated ways in which bees communicate.

Life Sciences Competition

With this competition, the Foundation renews its commitment to the biosciences following a good ten-year 'abstinence'.

 

Dealing with appreciation of capital stock

The Foundation may 'thesaurize' (from the Greek thesauros meaning 'treasury'), i.e., decide within the framework of its capital maintenance to what extent the increase in value takes place.

 

New Secretary General

Rolf Möller, former State Secretary, is appointed Secretary General of the Volkswagenwerk Foundation.

 

Cultural studies and the humanities in view

The Foundation sends out a signal for the cultural sciences and humanities by launching three new initiatives: 'Antiquity in the Modern World' (until 1988), 'German Resistance 1933 to 1945' (until 1991) and 'Examples of Cultural Studies Documentation' (until 1999). The latter follows on from the successful commitment to 'Capturing, Preserving and Making Cultural Property Accessible (1976-1982).

 

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

With substantial start-up funding, the Foundation made possible the founding of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; to this day, the Foundation continues to support nationally and internationally important Institutes of Advanced Study, for example in Budapest and Bucharest.

 

Man speaks in front of auditorium
Caribbean-German cooperation project on the problem of diabetes. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Eckel from Düsseldorf giving a presentation to colleagues in Trinidad.

Partnership program: Africa, Asia and Latin America

The 'Partnership Program for Research Projects with Institutes in the Natural Sciences, Engineering and Economics in Africa, Asia and Latin America' becomes the longest-running commitment in foreign-related funding to date (until 2002). In the end, the Foundation will have supported nearly a thousand projects with around 42 million euros.

 

Tailored research funding

The initiatives 'Physics and Chemistry of Unconventional Materials' (until 1984) and 'Microcharacterization of Materials and Devices' (1985-1997) are still considered exemplary for tailored early research funding.

 

Black and white photo of the Messel pit fossil site
Archaeological site of the "Grube Messel" (Messel pit) near Darmstadt, Hessen

Rescue mission for the Messel Pit

The Messel Pit fossil site in Hessen, which is threatened with conversion into a landfill site, is rescued as a world-class cultural asset with Foundation funding equivalent to around one million euros: extensive research begins. In 1995, the fossil deposit is recognized by UNESCO as one of the most important of its kind in the world and the first German 'World Natural Heritage Site'.

 

Porträt
Dr. Walter Borst

New Secretary General

Dr. Walter Borst is appointed Secretary General of the Volkswagenwerk Foundation.

 

black and white photo of the Bible room
The Bible room of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel

Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel

A beacon of institutional support: Repeatedly and in many different ways, the Foundation has supported the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel since the mid-1970s.

 

ZI - The Central Institute of Mental Health

The Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim is established with funding from the Foundation, the federal government and the state of Baden-Württemberg. It links patient care, research and teaching in the field of mental disorders in a novel way.

 

Real estate investment companies

The Foundation establishes the first of three real estate investment companies, the subsidiary IVA Immobilien-Verwaltungs- und Anlagegesellschaft Dr. A. Steiger KG. In 1989, the real estate investment companies IVI Immobilien-Verwaltungs- und Investitionsgesellschaft Dr. Brigitte Sträter KG, Hanover, and IVB Corporation, Washington D.C., USA, are added.

 black and white photo of a building
The guest house of the University of Göttingen, newly built in 1975

Meeting centers

The Foundation establishes a program for 'International Meeting-Centers of Science' (runs until 1987). A 'forerunner model' was the guesthouse program (1962-1975).

 

The Limits to Growth

The book 'The Limits to Growth. Report of the Club of Rome on the State of Humanity' by Dennis Meadows et. al. is published. The study was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

 

old company stamps
The archaeometry working group, Dr. G. Schneider, FU Berlin, examines Roman company lamps. Here is a selection of company stamps from company lamps.

Archaeometry and archaeometallurgy

One of the Foundation's early resounding successes was the Archaeometry Program (until 1985); it was followed by the no less successful commitment to archaeometallurgy (1986-1995).

 

Programs and focus

The Foundation draws up a first 'positive list' of defined funding initiatives (as it is called today); this is the birth of its programs and focus areas.

 

HIS University Information System

The Foundation establishes HIS Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH as a non-profit company based in Hanover. In 1976, HIS is taken over by the federal and state governments as shareholders.

 

Model of the foundation building in Hanover from above
Architectural model of the new office of the foundation

New office at Kastanienallee 35

The Foundation moves into the office buildings at Kastanienallee 35 in Hanover designed by the architect Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dieter Oesterlen.

Men stand around a model of a radio telescope
Presentation of a model of the Effelsberg radio telescope

Radio telescope Effelsberg

Decision to build the Effelsberg radio telescope, still one of the largest fully mobile radio telescopes on Earth and, at the equivalent of around 15 million euros, one of the largest individual grants in the Foundation's history. It is used to observe pulsars, cold gas and dust clouds, star-forming regions, black holes and the nuclei of distant galaxies. It is completed in 1971.

EMBO and GBF

Start-up funding for EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organisation, based in Heidelberg – and in the same year for the Gesellschaft für Biotechnologische Forschung (GBF) in Braunschweig, as it was later to be called. In 2006, the GBF becomes the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research.

 

Buildings in a hilly landscape
The Mathematical Research Institute Oberwolfach

Mathematical Research Institute Oberwolfach

For the first time, the Foundation supports the Mathematical Research Institute Oberwolfach in the Black Forest – and it continues to do so today, awarding funds for the library and conference building in 1975, later for extensions, and for the expansion of the research library in 2005.

 

View into a laboratory
The laboratory of the Cologne Institute for Genetics in the early 1960s

Funding for 'New Biology'

The first decade and a half focuses in particular on 'new biology'. The Foundation's support for molecular and physical biology is groundbreaking.

 

The first grants are allocated

52.8 million deutschmarks (approx. 37 million euros) in funding was approved in the launch year.

 

Porträt
Dipl.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Gotthard Gambke

First Secretary General

Dipl.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Gotthard Gambke is appointed by the Board of Trustees as the first Secretary General of Stiftung Volkswagenwerk, as the Foundation was then known.

 

Support for Israel

The first meeting of the Board of Trustees also marks the beginning of the Foundation's support for Israel – in the early years initially concentrated primarily on the Weizmann Institute, soon also within the framework of the 'Niedersächsisches Vorab'.

 

Men at the negotiating table with many documents
Board of Trustees meeting in the early 1960s

Constituent meeting

The constituent meeting of the Board of Trustees of Stiftung Volkswagenwerk is held in Hanover on February 27, 1962. The Foundation's management is subsequently formed by a 14-member Board of Trustees appointed on an honorary basis.

 

Men signing a document
Mai 19, 1961: Contract signing at the Ahrensburg near Bad Eilsen

Contract signing

On May 19, 1961, the Federal Government and the State of Lower Saxony jointly sign the Deed of Foundation and the Charter of 'Stiftung Volkswagenwerk based in Hanover' at Ahrensburg near Bad Eilsen.

The Foundation's establishment, name and purpose are to be seen against the background of the special conditions of the time in post-war Germany. In a state treaty concluded between the state of Lower Saxony and the Federal Republic of Germany in November 1959, the disputes over the ownership of the Volkswagen factory, which had remained unresolved after 1945, were brought to an end: It was decided to establish a science-promoting foundation.

Under this agreement, the then Volkswagenwerk GmbH was converted into a stock corporation. 60 percent of the share capital was transferred to private ownership through the issue of so-called Volksaktien (people's shares), with the Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Lower Saxony each receiving 20 percent. The proceeds from the privatization and the profit claims on the shares of the share capital remaining to the Federal Republic and the State were transferred as assets to the newly established 'Volkswagenwerk Foundation'.
The idea behind this was to establish a strong independent institution for the promotion of science and technology in the areas of research and education in the still young Federal Republic of Germany.