History and Goals
The Federation of German Scientists (FGS;
German acronym VDW) was founded in 1959
in West-Berlin by a group of renowned nuclear scientists including Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and the Nobel-prize laureates Max Born, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg and Max von Laue. Two years earlier this group of experts had become well-known to the public as the 'Göttinger 18': Nuclear scientists who had publicly argued against a nuclear armament of the German Bundeswehr. Both the 'Göttinger Erklärung' and the formation of the FGS were an expression of the new sense of responsibility felt by scientists after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The members of FGS 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.
Since then the FGS feels bound to the tradition of responsible science. In Annual Conferences and in interdisciplinary Expert Groups as well as public comments it addresses issues of science and technology on the one hand, and peace and security policy on the other. At the same time, the role of science itself in genesis and in solution of socio-technological problems is subject of examination and expertise. FGS' membership lists also include representatives of the humanities and social sciences, so that a large range of topics is approached at a high level of competence. With the results of its interdisciplinary work the Federation of German Scientists 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, FGS 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 assessible 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.