Celebrating 150 years of cooperation with the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker – the German Chemical Society.
Our president, Professor Sir John Holman, opened proceedings at a celebratory symposium by welcoming friends and colleagues from around the world to Burlington House, home to the Royal Society of Chemistry (then the Chemical Society) since 1857.
Sir John talked about our rich, intertwined histories, present from the earliest years of our two societies, including paying tribute to a key figure in the establishment of both organisations.
In 1867, having already completed a term as an influential and well-loved president of the Chemical Society in London, German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann returned to Berlin to forge the future of German chemistry.
Sir John said: "It is that future that we are celebrating today. Having been so warmly received in the beautiful Berlin Konzerthaus last month, and having enjoyed such a wonderful celebration event, it is a huge pleasure to host you today in London, to continue the celebrations".
Standing next to the bust of Hofmann that greets visitors to Burlington House, Sir John added: "This is a celebration of our two societies’ long-lasting friendship and shared history; of the fantastic contributions our community makes today; and, in the spirit of Hofmann 150 years ago, building a collaborative, international future for chemistry."
Our celebration symposium
Bringing us through from the creation of our two societies to the present day, speakers from the UK and Germany discussed our shared history and the contribution of chemistry to tackling modern-day global challenges of food, energy, water and sustainability.
Reflecting on the spirit of co-operation espoused in the welcome speeches from both presidents, Professor Carrell said: "International contacts are extremely important in science. Chemistry is a universal language we speak, with our molecular structures – it’s global and certainly there are no boundaries. That’s why such an event as today is so important.
"Chemists don’t need to speak a common language – they can just draw molecules and then they can understand each other. Even after the Second World War it was the chemists who started to make contact between Germany and Israel again.
"So the fact that today we have – from the German perspective – excellent international relations to Israel and beyond, is because of science and because of the chemists who simply ignored all political burdens and said 'listen, let’s talk'."
Wrapping up the symposium programme, some leading members of our international community took part in a panel discussion on the future of the chemical sciences, discussing and debating the nature of the vital role that chemistry will play in a rapidly changing world.
Extending a memorandum of understanding
To commemorate our ongoing commitment to collaboration and our long-standing friendship, the presidents and senior officers of both societies signed a renewed memorandum of understanding.
The German Ambassador to the UK, Peter Ammon spoke to celebrate the longstanding and intertwined relationship between our two chemistry societies.
He said: "Celebrating this event together highlights the strong bond between both institutions that has existed over such a long period of time.
"However, science by its nature looks forward rather than back. In a fast changing world, chemistry is vital for human prosperity, and the work of scientists is becoming more important than ever. Our joint celebration tonight perfectly underlines that science knows no borders.
"Think of Professor von Hofmann, who was called to London because of his excellent reputation and later brought his experience back to Germany, becoming one of the founding fathers of the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft.
"Science was and is truly transnational. I think it is important that politics, and we diplomats, don't get in your way when you scientists are building bridges between our two countries."