History of the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)
Since its foundation a long time ago, the "German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics", though bearing different names during the decades, has been the pivotal and constantly evolving organization for age researchers in Germany. Inaugurated in 1938 by the internist Max Bürger in Leipzig as "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Altersforschung" ("German Society for Age Research"), it was renamed the following year to emphasize the ambition of researching not only age itself but the process of aging (resulting in "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Alternsforschung": "German Society for Aging Research"). This first gerontological society in Germany was predominantly an assembly of geriatrics, thus being a mere medical society and reflecting the affinity of age research to medicine in these times. After World War II gerontological research in the divided Germany inevitably resulted in two different branches of development.
Society for Aging Research and Society for Gerontology of the GDR, respectively
As Leipzig, birth place of the "German Society for Aging Research", was located in the GDR after 1949, the work of the organization was continued there at first, until 1964. In 1966 it was replaced by the "Gesellschaft für Alternsforschung der DDR" ("Society for Aging Research of the GDR"). Werner Ries, a scholar of Max Bürger, was made the first chairman of the organization. In 1969 Ries took the chair of Internal Medicine and Gerontology at the university of Leipzig. Though hampered by difficult circumstances, he, as well as his collegue Friedrich-Horst Schulz in Berlin, succeeded in promoting gerontological research. It was particularly the idea of interdisciplinary research which defined the work of this new gerontological society in the GDR. Following the international trend it was renamed into "Gesellschaft für Gerontologie der DDR" ("Society for Gerontology of the GDR"), in 1977.
German Society for Gerontology (DGG)
The tradition established by Max Bürger was continued in Western Germany (FRG), too. It was a characteristic of the progress in the FRG to cross the boundaries of a confined medical and biological approach to the aging process, and to re-orientate towards interdisciplinary research. When the "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gerontologie" ("German Society for Gerontology") came into being in Nuremberg in 1966, it was consequently opened to sociology, psychology and other scientific fields. Collegues of Max Bürger, namely Erich Letterer, a pathologist from Tübingen, Adolf Störmer from Munich and René Schubert from Nuremberg, both internists, were accredited originators of this new society. René Schubert was the first chairman of the DGG, which he remained until his death in 1977, and (in 1970) the first to take a chair in gerontology in the FRG. According to the DGG`s understanding of gerontology non-medical scientists were energeticly and successfully involved in the society`s work, e.g. Karl Specht, a sociologist from Nuremberg and Hans Thomae, a psychologist from Bonn. As result of this development in the DGG a section "sociology" as well as a section "psychology" were founded as early as 1967.
In both parts of Germany the view on gerontology has been profoundly altered, not at last by the influence of the two mentioned societies. Due to the conclusion that aging is a biological, psychological and social fate, research of the aging process displayed a challenge to medicine as well as natural- and social sciences as a whole.
In the aftermath of these considerations the two German gerontological societies held regular congresses. It may be highlighted that in 1981 the DGG hosted the twelvth world congress of the International Association of Gerontology (IAG) in Hamburg. The chairman of this congress, Hans Thomae, was head of the DGG (1977-1980) and head of the IAG (1981-1993). Respective congress reports prove the magnitude of discoursed topics and the high quality of the evolving interdisciplinary gerontology in Germany. Additionally the DGG soon created an own, regular forum, the "Zeitschrift für Gerontologie", published since 1968, as well as a journal for publication of selected congress papers named "actuelle gerontologie". Furthermore, Wolf D. Oswald and Siegfried Kanowski established the interdisciplinary journal "Zeitschrift für Gerontopsychologie & -psychiatrie". Undoubtedly, these journals represent a serious improvement in the opportunity to publish gerontological work and therefore have contributed and will keep on contributing to the advancement of gerontology in Germany.
Honorary members of the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)
- Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Meier-Baumgartner, Hamburg
- Prof. Dr. Siegfried Eitner, Berlin †
- Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Falck, Berlin †
- Prof. Dr. Hanns Kaiser, Augsburg †
- Prof. Dr. Erich Lang, Erlangen
- Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehr, Heidelberg
- Prof. Dr. Gerald Leutert, Leipzig †
- Prof. Dr. Wolf D. Oswald, Erlangen
- Prof. Dr. Werner Ries, Leipzig †
- Dr. Willi Rückert, Brühl
- Prof. Dr. Georg Rudinger, Bonn
- Prof. Dr. Klaus H. Sames, Hamburg
- Prof. Dr. Dietrich Schachtschabel, Marburg
- Pfarrer Rudolf Schmidt, Hofgeismar
- Rainer Schröter, Marburg
- Prof. Dr. Rudolf M. Schütz, Lübeck †
- Prof. Dr. Hans Thomae, Bonn †
- Dr. med. Jean-Auguste Huet, Paris †
- Prof. Dr. Simon Bergman, Tel Aviv †
- Prof. Dr. Francesco Mario Antonini, Florenz †
- Dr. med. Robert Jacques van Zonneveld, Haren †
- Prof. Dr. med. A. Ruiz-Torres, Madrid
- Prof. Dr. Vladimir V. Frolkis, Kiew †
- Prof. Dr. D.F. Tschebotarew, Kiew †
- Prof. Dr. James E. Birren, Los Angeles
- Prof. Dr. Hanna Hermanova, Chicago
- Dr. med. Nathan Shock, Baltimore †