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Friedrich Schmidt-Ott

President of the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft from 1920 to 1934


Friedrich Schmidt-Ott, President of the Notgemeinschaft from 1920 to 1934

Friedrich Schmidt-Ott, President of the Notgemeinschaft from 1920 to 1934

© aus Schmidt-Ott, Erlebtes und Erstrebtes 1860-1950, 1952

Friedrich Schmidt-Ott was born on 4 June 1860 in Potsdam and studied law in Berlin, Heidelberg, Leipzig and Göttingen.

In 1888 he began working for the Prussian Ministry of Culture, and in 1907 he became Minister Director of the education department. At the same time he was appointed Privy Councillor of the higher civil service (Wirklicher Geheimer Oberregierungsrat), which entitled him to be addressed as Exzellenz. He served as culture minister of Prussia between 6 August 1917 and November 1918.

After his silver wedding anniversary in 1920 with his wife Luise Margarethe Ott, he used the name Friedrich Schmidt-Ott.

In 1920, Schmidt-Ott together with Fritz Haber initiated the establishment of the Notgemeinschaft, the predecessor of today's DFG, which elected him as its president on 30 October 1920. On 17 May 1933, Schmidt-Ott resigned as president along with the other members of the Executive Committee. He continued to oversee the affairs of the Notgemeinschaft on a temporary basis until finally being dismissed by Reich Minister Bernhard Rust on 23 June 1934.

Between 1935 and 1945 he chaired the Stifterverband der Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft (Donor Federation of the Emergency Association of German Science). In 1949, the newly established Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft (Emergency Association of German Science) in Bonn elected Friedrich Schmidt-Ott as its honorary president.

He died in 1956, at the age of nearly 96, in Berlin, where he is buried.

Offices, Memberships and Honours

  • 1914 Honorary member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences
  • 1919 Honorary member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • 1929 Harnack Medal of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society
  • 1919-1937 Vice-president and senator of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society
  • 1920-1932 Member of the board and president of the German Association for East European Studies
  • 1930 Honorary member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig
  • 1930 Honorary member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • 1930 Honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna
  • 1933 Honorary member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 1949 Honorary president of the Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft (from 1951: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation))
  • 1951 Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1960 The former Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße in Steglitz, Berlin is renamed Schmidt-Ott-Straße

Research Interests and Publications

  • Althoffs Pläne für Dahlem (Althoff's Plans for Dahlem), memorandum for Kaiser Wilhelm II (1908/1909)
  • Die Kulturaufgaben und das Reich (The Tasks of Culture and the Empire) (1919)
  • Die Not der deutschen Wissenschaft (The Emergency of German Science) (1920)
  • Erlebtes und Erstrebtes 1860-1950 (Things Experienced and Strived For), 1956