Rescue for the Last Residence of Wilhelm Wundt

The following comes to us from Dr. Andreas Jüttemann, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

It is well known that Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) developed his historically highly significant effect at the University of Leipzig and is therefore regarded as perhaps the greatest founder personality of psychology. A fact less well known is, that he not only established the world’s first laboratory for experimental psychology in Leipzig, but was also the initiator for the emergence of a developmental psychology oriented towards cultural history, for which he introduced the term “folk psychology”, which is no longer used today.

The houses in which Wundt lived in Leipzig (a town of half a million inhabitants in the German federal state of Saxony, 100 miles south of Berlin with half a million inhabitants) were destroyed in the Second World War. His last domicile, located in Großbothen near Leipzig was preserved. Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932), winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry and a close friend of Wundt, also lived there. Wundt’s home in Großbothen was erected around 1903/04 “well proportioned in Italian style”. Wundt died on 31 August 1920 in his Großbothen home.

Since the political change in the GDR in 1990 the privately owned house was uninhabited. In the last years the decay increased further and the owner considered its demolition. Several players from Berlin, Leipzig and Freiburg wanted to avert this by acquiring the house and have been trying to buy it back for many years. The main objective of the present project is to save this house from final decay and to rebuild it in a way that is appropriate for its preservation as a historical monument for subsequent use as a place of research and remembrance in the history of German science. A monument conservator from Freiburg (and wife of a Wundt-researcher) negotiated with the owner and was able to purchase the building in November 2017. It was a last-minute purchase. In November 2018, the federal government and the state of Saxony approved the funding. Now the restoration of the dilapidated house can begin.

Parallel to the real estate negotiations, the “Förderverein Wilhelm-Wundt-Haus Großbothen” was founded in the summer of 2016. This consists of scientists and monument conservationists, planners, local politicians and residents, who through their presence express the public interest in the preservation of the house for the place, the region and for the Wundt-Research. In the long term, the association is to be transformed into a foundation and take over ownership.

After the restoration, a utilization  closely associated with the name Wundt could be considered. Although the “Wilhelm-Wundt-Raum” at the Psychological Institute Leipzig and the Würth Museum for the History of Psychology in Würzburg already exist, it would be highly desirable to develop Großbothen into a Wundt-Research Institute or a Museum for the History of Psychology. For this use, however, there is a lack of ideas and, above all, of long-term financial support. In June 2019, a conference on the history of science is planned for the Wundthaus Project in Berlin. Wundt’s last preserved place of his life and work, which has now become a place of research and remembrance should be expanded.

If you are interested in a participation of the Wundthaus (above all also in a non-material, but also financial participation), please contact us:

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.