Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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Auftaktveranstaltung des Humboldt-Jubiläumsjahres

Greeting at the 12th October 2009

Since 1948 this University is named after the two Humboldt-Brothers, Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt. Alexander was a member of the Prussian Academy and as such had the privilege to give lectures at university and so he delivered his well known public lecture-series, the so-called "Kosmos-Vorlesungen", which belong to the most successful lecture-series in German intellectual history in terms of people attending. Alexander von Humboldt was not sure whether he should consider himself a Frenchman or a German, an American or even a Prussian. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to address you with a few words in English, the lingua franca of our time.

This ceremonial act is - such as our German universities in general - quite German in its character. I promise to you today that the three hundredth anniversary of our university will be celebrated in a much more international manner. Apart from the German language we will then hopefully also engage with the other languages of Alexander von Humboldt, such as French, Spanish, and not to forget Russian. And maybe - as a scholar of the ancient world I may express this hope - also once again Latin and, I suppose, Chinese, additionally. For the time being, I am thoroughly convinced that all of you, regardless of your native languages, will understand the music by our former student Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, the music we will enjoy during this ceremony. We are deeply grateful for the honour which you have conferred upon us by your visit and by attending this ceremony. We very much hope that our ceremony may be both, a joyful and a thought-provoking occasion, and as such a successful prelude to our anniversary. A very warm and sincere welcome to all of you!

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christoph Markschies
Präsident der Humboldt-Universität