Federation of German Scientists

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The Federation of German Scientists - VDW (Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler e. V.) is a German non-governmental organization in the field of sciences.

Since its founding 1959 by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and further prominent nuclear scientists, known as Göttinger 18, who had previously publicly declared their position against the nuclear armament of the German Bundeswehr, the Federation has been committed to the ideal of responsible science.

The Federation of German Scientists comprises around 400 natural scientists, humanists and social scientists, enabling competent coverage of a broad spectrum of topics. The Federation of German Scientists addresses both interested members of the public and decision-makers on all levels of politics and society with its work.

In 2005/2006, the VDW was the patron and main contributor to the Potsdam Manifesto‚ 'We have to learn to think in a new way’ and the Potsdam Denkschrift.

History and aims[edit]

The VDW was founded in 1959 in Berlin by a group of well-known nuclear scientists including Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and the Nobel-prizewinners Max Born, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Max von Laue. This group of scientists was almost identical to the "Göttinger 18", who, two years previously, had publicly declared their position against the nuclear armament of the German Bundeswehr. Both the “Göttinger Erklärung“ and the formation of the VDW were an expression of the new sense of responsibility felt by scientists after the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The members of VDW stand in this tradition. They feel committed to taking into consideration the possible military, political and economical implications and possibilities of atomic misuse when carrying out their scientific research and teaching.

It is this sense of responsibility which instigates VDW to state its opinion in its annual meetings and interdisciplinary study groups, in its scientific publications and public statements on questions of scientific orientation and technological developments and peace and security politics. VDW's membership lists also include representatives of the humanities and social sciences, so that a large range of topics can be approached at a high level of competence. With the results of its interdisciplinary work the Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler not only addresses the general public, but also the decision-makers at all levels of politics and society.


According to its statutes laid down in 1959, VDW aims to

  • keep up and deepen the awareness of those working in science for their responsibility for the effects which their work has on society;
  • study the problems which result from the continuous development of science and technology;
  • assist science and its representatives in making public the questions related to the application of scientific and technical developments;
  • provide advice and thus exercise influence on decisions as long as they are accessible and can be dealt with by means of scientific knowledge and methods, and to point out all forms of misuse of scientific and technical results;
  • to defend the freedom of scientific research and the free exchange of its results and to expand and strengthen the traditional international cooperation of scientists.

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