Head office for polar research

Why Bremerhaven?

Nowadays the Alfred Wegener Institute is an integral part of Bremerhaven – a fact that the maritime city owes not no one less than Germany’s former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. In the mid-1970s Bremerhaven’s Member of Parliament, Horst Grunenberg (SPD), gave a thought to the Antarctic Treaty, as well as the possibilities of fishing and extracting resources at the South Pole – and therewith attracted the interest of the German government.

As a result a commission of the Science Council dealt with the question, which site would be appropriate to host the German head office for polar research. The first choice though was not Bremerhaven. Instead the council considered Kiel. The idea was, however, met with opposition within the Federal Ministry of Research. Some preferred Bremen and Bremerhaven. Finally the former chancellor Schmidt argued pro Bremerhaven.