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Center for the History of Psychology

Jena 1939 & 2000

The Psychological Institute in Jena

February 1945

Concerning the last year of war, the town chronicles of Jena say: "Due to the severity of the last bombing raid on Jena, we mourn the death of  approximately100 lives as well as 50 seriously and 200 slightly injured persons. Twenty-six buildings are totally destroyed, 21 suffer severe damages and 259 are moderately or slightly damaged. More than one hundred people were buried alive and 34 are still missing. The historic district of Jena and its northern quarter are most badly affected. Among the destroyed buildings are, apart from many homes, the university library, the Kollegien Church, the Griesbachhaus, the Nordschule, the Botanical Institute and the building at Unterm Markt 1 - the birth place of Goethe's and Schiller's friendship in 1794."  

Once the setting of Schiller's inaugural lecture, the history-charged Griesbachhaus later hosted the Departmentent of Psychology of the University of Jena. Twelve of its employees who were in the Institute during the bombing raid, did not survive.

The following film features the Department of Psychology, its facilities and working methods, and also a view of Jena from the Institute. The film was originally made on the occasion of the 50th birthday of the head of the institute, Professor Friedrich Sander in 1939. In 1942, the film was copied and probably equipped with titles.

About the Chronicles of the Department in Jena

The roots of the history of psychology in Jena reach far back in time.
However, one successful initiative leading to the establishment of the Department of Psychology took place only during the the twenties. It originated from the Thuringian Teacher League, from the company Carl Zeiss and from the department of experimental psychology. As a result a "Psychological Insititution" was founded in 1923 with Wilhelm Peters (1880-1963) as its head. Within ten years, Peters facility earned a lot of respect and recognition, but only until 1933, when he was discharged by the National Socialists. For one semester, Annelies Argelander assumed the responsibility for the "Psychological Institution". For the winter session 1933, Friedrich Sander (1889-1971) accepted the call from the University of Jena and returned from Gießen to his Thuringian home. In 1940, the "Psychological Insitution" was renamed "Department of Psychology" and was headed by Sander until 1945.

(Armin Stock)


Geuter, U. (1986). Daten zur Geschichte der deutschen Psychologie. Band 1. Göttingen: Hogrefe.

The Institute of Psychology in Jena 1939

Jena in the year 2000

55 years after the demise of the Psychological Institute, the newly founded institute after the war was able to host the 42nd Congress of the German Psychological Society. To this occasion, a film was made documenting the congress and also giving insights into the new cityscape of Jena.

We would like to thank Prof. Dr. Michaela Riediger, Prof. Dr. Rainer Silbereisen, Thomas Ritter and Dr. Christian Morgner for their kind permission to archive and publish the film.