Hauptgebäude or "Villa Linde"

This building was erected in 1910 and is the Wissenschaftskolleg’s Hauptgebäude (Main Building), containing a large reception hall, two seminar rooms and a clubroom as well as the restaurant, rector’s office, and the Kolleg’s administrative apparatus. After the Dahlem Conferences found a new home in 1982, the Villa Linde became the main building of the Wissenschaftskolleg, encompassing the aforementioned rector’s office, administrative apparatus, restaurant and clubroom and additionally a large conference/lecture hall as well as one-room apartments for Fellows and guests on the top floor.

In 1893 the governmental master builder (Regierungsbaumeister) Karl Franke acquired the plot of land from the Royal Forest Treasury in Potsdam (Forstfiskus der Königlichen Regierung zu Potsdam). In 1901 the still vacant property came into the possession of Erna Linde, née Tietz, wife of the District Attorney Dr. Franz Linde, and in that same year the governmental master builder Ludwig Otte was commissioned with constructing a villa. The Linde family resided in this villa until 1921. In the stucco above the villa’s main entrance one can still see today the initials of Erna and Franz Linde—“ELF.” Living at various times with the Linde family were a gardner, a librarian and a retired captain of the cavalry.

After 1921, ownership of the villa and its gardens changed hands several times. From 1921 to 1925 the Dresden businessman Carl Richter was the proprietor, and afterward the businessman Karl Büchting. In 1935 this latter planned to tear down the villa and in its place erect three apartment buildings, but his building application was turned down. Subsequently, in March 1936, Büchting sold the estate to the Reich Air Raid Defense Association of the Regional Faction Greater Berlin (Reichsluftschutzbund Landesgruppe Gross-Berlin (RLB)), which fundamentally renovated the villa and used it as its Berlin office. According to the historical documents, in front of the house was a black board upon which was written, "For official communiques of the NSDAP and the RLB."

After the Second World War the villa was requisitioned by the British Military Government and turned into an officer’s club with mess and living quarters. With permission of the occupying forces, in 1955 ownership of the villa and its surrounding grounds was transferred  to the Federal Air Raid Defense Association of Cologne (successor organization to the RLB), which then, for its part, rented the building to the British Military Government, which utilized it as an officer’s mess into the mid-1970s. In 1959 a six-car garage was built in the garden.

In 1978, on the condition that the villa would be renovated and not used for commercial purposes, it came into the possession of the Berlin Senate. In 1980-81 the Senator for Science, Research and Culture granted free use of the villa to the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin as well as the Dahlem Conferences, both founded in that same year, the villa being thoroughly renovated and partially rebuilt by the Berlin architect Dorothea Haupt.

Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus

Excursus: Villa Linde's Grounds