Memories on the history of the Division of the Chemistry of Construction Materials

Memories of the history of the GDCh Division of the Chemistry of Construction Materials

Dear construction chemists,

On the occasion of the 3rd International Conference on the Chemistry of Construction Materials - 3 rd ICCCM for short - I saw an advantage of the corona pandemic for the first time: I was able to participate in the Division Online members' meeting. I would certainly not have gone to XY. Even if this medium does not allow a lot, this contact is better than no contact at all.

For me it was also a look back at the beginning of the Division of the Chemistry of Construction Materials. I like to remember that time. It all started with the initiative of the GDCh Managing Directors, represented by Dr. Behret. They invited to the GDCh Office in Frankfurt for exploratory talks


  • the industry / "Deutsche the chemistry of construction materials", Mr. Schröter and
  • the science / represented by me.

At first, Mr. Schröter and I took up the initiative of the GDCh somewhat hesitantly. But it rolled on. Through meetings, assemblies of GDCh members interested in building chemistry in Frankfurt and elections, a ?GDCh Working Group? was initially formed according to the rules of the GDCh. I was elected chairman, probably in 1994. The "Deutsche the chemistry of construction materials" initially took a very skeptical view of this. For example, Dr. Behret and I were invited to Altötting by the then chairman of "Deutsche the chemistry of construction materials", Mr. Poech, for discussion. The discussions could not prevent our founding, and we did not allow ourselves to be deprived of the term "the chemistry of construction materials" in our name, which was undesirable by the inviting party.

In November 1996 the Working Group its first event, a workshop in Hünfeld near Fulda. Even then, it was important to me that the lectures were printed in a citable manner. The first conference volume was published (GDCh-Monograph Vol. 7). It stayed that way in my time and beyond. We did not yet know an impact factor. We rated the scientists on more general criteria. The points evaluation came later, maybe from football?

In 1997 we were "promoted" by the GDCh from the Working Group to the Division . We must have done a satisfactory job. The new board members were: Prof. Dr. Knöfel (University of Siegen; Chairman), Prof. Dr. Hummel (Knauf Gips; Deputy Chairman), Dr. Akstinat (Holderchem, CH), Prof. Dr. Cammenga (TU Braunschweig) and Prof. Dr. Hiller (TU Munich). The level of awareness of the Division increased. The number of members increased, as the current section chairman Dr. Frank Winnefeld at the general assembly in 2021 reported (sometime) on more than 300. We organized three Conferences (1997 in Munich, 1999 in Siegen and 2001 in Würzburg, correspondingly three conference volumes / GDCh monographs Vol. 11, Vol. 15 and Vol. 24 appeared under the title ?the chemistry of construction materials - From Research to Practice.? I retired in the summer of 2001 and my time as chairman ended in the fall of the same year a fulfilling time that I fondly think back to.

The train was on the track, it was rolling. The engine driver was changed, Prof. Dr. Cammenga came and others followed and led the Division successfully to this day. First of all, I would like to thank everyone who, with their work, has maintained and expanded the success of the Division over the past few years. First of all, of course, this refers to the board members of the last five terms - with their chairmen at the top. Five terms of office - 20 years - this is how long ago I left active participation.

Of course, the Board is not able to work without active members, so my full appreciation and thanks go to the many members who first fill in the professional group life with their contributions. I wish the Division a continued successful future.

Children have one father, sometimes several fathers, sometimes nobody wants it to be. In our Division of the Chemistry of Construction Materials , none of the fathers involved will want to deny their involvement. There were many fathers and everyone will look grateful and a little proud of the children and grandchildren and their work.

Dietbert Knöfel
Berlin, March 16, 2021

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last modified: 14.07.2021 13:59 H from C.Kniep