The history of the Hahn Meitner Institute
The HMI was set up in 1959 in Wannsee, then under the name “Hahn-Meitner-Institut für Kernforschung” (Hahn Meitner Institute for Nuclear Research). From the very outset there was close collaboration with the universities of West Berlin that contributed decisively to the direction the HMI took over its evolution. The managerial posts at the departments were always linked to the professorships at these universities.
The heart of the research centre was the Berlin Experimental Reactor BER I. On 24 July 1958, one year before the HMI was set up, it went into operation, delivering 50 kilowatts. BER I still served classical nuclear chemistry, in other words, the intention was to investigate the chemical and physical structure and behaviour of atomic nuclei. One initial research focus, for instance, was the analysis of reaction products from fissile substances. A further research focus investigated radiation effects.
In the sixties the reactor at the HMI was joined by a particle accelerator. This was the central facility for nuclear physics. Two large facilities though cost a lot of money, with the consequence that the institute owned originally by the federal state was turned into a society financed jointly by the federal government (90%) and the State of Berlin (10%). This particular legal form with the federal government and the state as partners has been retained by the HMI since 1971 and continues to this day, extending now to the new HZB.
The names behind the former HMI and the new HZB
Extracts from the following have been published on the internet by courtesy of Harri Deutsch Verlag:
Fachlexikon abc Forscher und Erfinder / [Hrsg.: Hans-Ludwig Wussing ...]. - Thun; Frankfurt am Main: Deutsch, 1992