Free University of Berlin

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Group.png Free University of Berlin  
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Seal of Free University of Berlin.png
MottoVeritas, Iustitia, Libertas
HeadquartersBerlin, Germany
Created as a Cold War showcase of Western freedom.

Cold War Origins

The Free University of Berlin was founded in West Berlin in 1948 with American support during the early Cold War period; its name refers to West Berlin's status as part of the Western Free World, in contrast to the communist-controlled university in East Berlin, where the old Frederick William University was situated.

By 1949, the Free University had registered 4,946 students. Until the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, many students came from the Soviet sector, often supported through the a cash stipend from the West Berlin government.

1968 Student Protests

In the late 1960s, the Free University of Berlin was one of the main scenes of the German student movement of 68, as a reaction to the global student protests during that time.

The APO students criticised society's repression of the crimes of National Socialism committed by their parents' generation, only interested in economic recovery. It also joined the worldwide protests against the Vietnam War and showed solidarity with the guerrilla fighters campaigning against the United States and its local allies.

The university was a center for the Außerparlamentarische Opposition (APO) (German for extra-parliamentary opposition), to which the student leaders Benno Ohnesorg and Rudi Dutschke belonged.

The outrage after the police's assassination of Benno Ohnesorg and the attempt on student leader Rudi Dutschke's life, led to the protests quickly escalating in all of Germany.


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