History of the KIS

The first years of the KIS - then called Fraunhofer-Institut

  • The old solar observatory on the Schauinsland mountain near Freiburg was during the 2nd world war the center of the "Fraunhofer-Institut". It delivered results of solar investigation to perform predictions of possible disturbances of radio communications by solar eruptions. Its name "Fraunhofer-Institut" was suggested by Karl-Otto Kiepenheuer in 1942 and was officially given to the institute in April 1943. Therefore this year can be taken as the year of foundation of the "Fraunhofer-Institut".

  • After the end of the 2nd world war the observatory on the Schauinsland was still the center of the "Fraunhofer-Institut". In 1955 the institute moved to an old building in the Schöneckstrasse 6 in Freiburg. The collection of solar activity images (taken in integral light, spectroheliograms etc.) were performed - with only short interruptions - from November 1939 until the end of 1977. More information about the collection and some examples of digitized images are given.
  • The "Fraunhofer-Institut" had never any organizational or financial relation to the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft which was founded in 1949 in Munich and some time later also founded institutes in Freiburg. Often the institutes of the "Fraunhofer Gesellschaft" were mixed up with the "Fraunhofer-Institut". Therefore after the dead of Karl-Otto Kiepenheuer (1910-1975) the latter was re-named to "Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik". With a scientific colloquium under the title "Small scale motions on the Sun" the change of the name was celebrated November 1st - 3rd, 1978. The contributions were published in the "Mitteilungen aus dem Kiepenheuer-Institut" as number 179 in 1979.

Literature about the History of the KIS:

  • The first years of the "Fraunhofer-Institut" during the 2nd world war and shortly afterwards were investigated by the science history researcher Gudrun Wolfschmidt (personal homepage, mainly in german) several decades later. She published two main papers, which exist only in german: Kiepenheuers Gründung von Sonnenobservatorien im Dritten Reich - Kontinuität der Entwicklung zur internationalen Kooperation, in: Wissenschaftlichen Jahrbuch 1992/93 des Deutschen Museums, S.283-318 (1993)  and Sonnenphysik im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Wissenschaft oder Kriegsforschung ?, in: Meinel, C., Voswinkel, P. (Hg.): Medizin, Naturwissenschaft, Technik und Nationalsozialismus - Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten, Verlag für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaft und der Technik, Stuttgart, S. 152-159 (1994)

  • Another publication also in german by Wolfgang Mattig entitled "50 Jahre Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysk" was published in Sterne und Weltraum 32, 854 - 861 (1993).

  • In 2005 M.P.Seiler finished his (german) thesis about solar-terrestrial physics in Germany 1939 until 1949 at the university of Halle-Wittenberg. This has been published in an updated version as a book entitled "Kommandosache >>Sonnengott<< - Geschichte der deutschen Sonnenforschung im dritten Reich und unter alliierter Besatzung". It is included as volume No. 31 of the series  Acta Historica Astronomiae (1st ed., Frankfurt/Main, 2007).