In 2017 the GDCh celebrated the 150th anniversary of the founding of its predecessor society, the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft. Learn more about the history of the founding of GDCh's predecessor society, the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft and about our anniversary meeting in Berlin in September 2017.
The Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) share a common history, especially marked by August Wilhelm von Hofmann, an outstanding chemist of the 19th century, who was President of the Chemical Society of London from 1861 to 1863 and after his return to Berlin founding President of the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft (DChG) in 1867. Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the GDCh in 2017 and the 175th Anniversary of the RSC in 2016, a one-day meeting was held on 25th October 2017 at the London offices of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The brochure of this event (pdf, 10 MB) is available.
The Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh - German Chemical Society) brings together people working in chemistry and the molecular sciences and supports their striving for positive, sustainable scientific advance – for the good of humankind and the environment, and a future worth living for.
With this goal in mind, the GDCh promotes chemistry in education, research and application. In addition, GDCh seeks to deepen the understanding and knowledge of the general public about chemistry and its relevance to the world they live in.
The many facets of the GDCh's promotion of chemistry find expression in the initiation and support of a number of projects and in the publication of highly-esteemed professional journals, particularly in applied chemistry. The organization also confers important awards, such as the Karl Ziegler Prize and the Otto Hahn Prize (jointly with the City of Frankfurt and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft), which are among the most highly endowed German prizes in the natural sciences.
Numbering some 30,000 members from academia, industry and the professions, the GDCh represents a large and socially important community of experts. The organization's 150-year history, global network and high scientific and social standards form the foundation for future-oriented activities in pursuit of a world that can sustain human life at a level worth the living.
If chemistry is to receive due recognition, it needs to be promoted. Its uses and significance for sustainable development and human life are not at all clear in the minds of the general public. It is our ambition to change this by seeing that chemistry comes to be better understood and appreciated and is given room to unfold its full potential in all of its variety.
With this aim in mind:
The Code of Conduct is part of GDCh's statutes. Its acceptance is obligatory for all members.
The GDCh pledges itself and its members to uphold freedom, tolerance and integrity in science, in particular, to protect and augment the reputation of chemistry as well as chemistry knowledge and know-how. All GDCh members are well aware that they, as scientists, are particularly responsible for the effects of their occupational work on human beings and nature.
The GDCh and its members promote a sustainable and long-lasting development in society, industry and the environment. They will act, conscious of their responsibility towards future generations. They respect the applicable laws and international conventions regarding their work and their results, and they oppose the misuse of chemistry; for example, they stand against the production of chemical weapons and addictive substances. With the development, application and dissemination of chemical knowledge, the GDCh and its members are obliged to the truth and do not exploit dishonest methods.
Members who violate these principles damage the reputation of science and the profession. They may be barred from the GDCh.
The Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft (DChG) was founded in Berlin in 1867 by Adolf von Baeyer and other distinguished scientists. The eminent chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann was its first president. The constitution of the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft was similar to the one of the Chemical Society, founded in London in 1841. Hofman had been living and working in London since 1845, chairing the Institute of the Royal College of Chemistry in London. In 1861 Hofman had become president of the Chemical Society of London.
In 1868 the new founded Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft published its first scientific journal, Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft (Reports from the German Chemical Society): its successor publications today are the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry and the European Journal of Organic Chemistry. The most recent predecessor to today's GDCh, the Verein Deutscher Chemiker (VDCh) (Association of German Chemists), was founded twenty years later, in 1887. The journal it produced for its members is still published today: Angewandte Chemie. The DChG membership was drawn primarily from the universities, while the VDCh addressed persons working in the chemical industry.
The first job placement service for chemists was launched under the aegis of the VDCh in 1900. At the same time, the VDCh's first specialist groups came into being. These subsidiary organizations largely shape the character of the GDCh to this day. The fiftieth anniversary of the DChG coincided with the 100th birthday of its founding president, August Wilhelm von Hofmann, on April 18, 1918. In the early years of the 20th century, the first internationally recognized scientific awards were established. These included the Liebig-Denkmünze (the Liebig Memorial Medallion) and the Emil Fischer Medaille, which are conferred on outstanding chemists to this day. In 1921, the DChG, the VDCh and the predecessors of today's VCI joined to found Verlag Chemie (Chemical Publishing).
The National Socialist era in Germany did not leave the GDCh's predecessor organizations unscarred. Application of the so-called Führerprinzip, which called for the firing of Jewish colleagues, was made obligatory, as was incorporation of the chemical organizations into the NS-Bund Deutscher Technik (the National Socialist Federation of German Technology). After the war, the DChG and the VDCh were both dissolved, and both organizations were merged to form the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, first founded in the British zone in 1946 and then in West Germany as a whole in 1949. The first chairman and president of the GDCh was Karl Ziegler, later a winner of the Nobel Prize.
In the 1950s, membership in the GDCh passed the 5,000 mark. In 1953, the Chemische Gesellschaft was founded in the German Democratic Republic. By 1958, the GDCh had more than 10,000 members, and in 1962 the organization moved into its present home in Frankfurt. In the 1960s, the focus was on probing more deeply into the chemical sciences. In the 1970s and 1980s internationalization became a priority, and ecology came to be written large with, for example, the establishment of the Beratergremium für umweltrelevante Altstoffe (BUA), an advisory committee on chemical substances that impact the environment. By its 125-year anniversary celebrations in 1992, the GDCh could boast a brisk business in publications and one successful conference after another. Integration of the former members of the GDR's Chemische Gesellschaft raised GDCh membership to over 25,000.
In the second half of the 1990s, the GDCh brought about a reformation in the landscape of the continental European chemical journals. Under GDCh leadership, the national journals of the European chemical societies were melded into new, pan-European journals. Prominent among the large number of very successful journals, Chemistry - A European Journal merits special mention.
Together with other chemical organizations and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), GDCh orchestrated the national Year of Chemistry in 2003 on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Justus von Liebig. With the new millennium the GDCh seeked to foster both greater merging of the European chemical societies into a common European research area and close cooperation with non-European partners, like the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, IUPAC. In 2004 GDCh was one of the leading forces in converting the former Federation of European Chemical Societies (FECS) into the European Association of Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS). In 2010 the GDCh was organizer of the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress in Nürnberg with some 2,500 participants. In 2011 GDCh played a key role in the organization of the International Year of Chemistry launched by the United Nations and IUPAC.
The GDCh is a member of ChemPubSoc Europe, an organization of 16 European chemical societies, founded in the late 1990s as a consequence of the amalgamation of many chemical journals owned by national chemical societies into a number of high-quality European journals with ChemistryOpen as the first Open-Access-Society journal in 2011. ChemPubSoc Europe's journals are all published with Wiley-VCH.
Since 2003 eleven bilateral cooperation alliances were signed with Chemical Societies around the world, focusing on cooperation in organizing scientific events and enabling the members to access conferences of the partner society with reduced conference fees. The latest Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Israel Chemical Society on the occasion of a Symposium in Tel Aviv/Israel in 2017.
Apart from these activities, GDCh’s attention focused on the ethical commitment and responsibility as chemist scientists. In 1998 the GDCh code of honor was drawn up. All members pledge to act in responsible and sustainable way and to oppose strictly any misuse of chemical weapons and illegal drugs. In 2015 a more than 700 page survey about Chemists in the so-called Third Reich was published, set off by the GDCh. With this extensive and detailed study, the GDCh commited the responsibility of its predecessor organizations. And it was 2015 also, when 100 years after the first use of chemical weapons in warfare, then GDCh president Thomas Geelhaar and other representatives of chemistry organizations gathered in Ypres to commemorate those who have died as a result of chlorine gas and other chemical weapons.
In 2013 the number of GDCh’s members exceed 30,000 and in 2017 the GDCh celebrated the 150th anniversary of the founding of its predecessor society, the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft. With members from academia, industry and the professions, the GDCh represents a large and socially important community of experts. Although the huge majority of members are chemists or chemistry students, everyone, who acceps GDCh’s code of honor is invited to join the GDCh. The organization's 150-year history, global network and high scientific and social standards form the foundation for future-oriented activities in pursuit of a world that can sustain human life at a level worth the living.
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