Harnack House is a reflection of contemporary German history in the 20th century. The exhibition in the foyer areas provides an overview of the fraught and eventful years from the House’s construction in the 1920s to the end of the Cold War. It focuses on people who shaped the House and were guests here.
Harnack House was erected in 1929 as a guest house for the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the precursor to the Max Planck Society, and became a meeting place for people working on the surrounding campus. Beyond that, however, it also became one of Berlin’s key venues for social gatherings. From 1933, Harnack House – and the Kaiser Wilhelm Society that managed it – collaborated with the Nazi regime. Nevertheless, people of different political persuasions continued to gather here even during this time. At the end of the Second World War, American forces confiscated the building, which emerged from the conflict undamaged, and converted it into an officers’ club. When the Allies withdrew from Berlin in 1994, the House was handed over to the Max Planck Society. Today, the House has been returned to its original purpose. Just as it was in 1929, Harnack House is a meeting place for the global scientific community.
The permanent historical exhibition is divided into four stations that are free for all visitors to view in the foyer and lounge areas.