Members Perspectives

GDCh renames renowned prize 

The GDCh Board has decided to no longer name the Prize for Inorganic Chemistry after the chemist Alfred Stock (1876-1946). The Board is thus following a recommendation of the “Prizes 2.0” Commission, which has dealt in detail with the person of Alfred Stock. With this decision, the Board and the Commission emphasize the GDCh’s clear position against anti-Semitism and discrimination as well as its clear commitment to diversity and equal opportunities. A decision on a new name will be made in the near future.

The Commission is convinced that Alfred Stock displayed a clearly anti-Semitic attitude. His commitment to National Socialism was greater than necessary to avoid personal disadvantages. This is shown by various activities, such as the fact that he actively promoted the dismissal of Jewish employees in the office of the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft, one of the predecessor organizations of the GDCh. Alfred Stock’s intensive correspondence with his Nazi-critical American colleague Louis Monroe Dennis, the head of the Department of Chemistry at Cornell University, New York, also testifies to his basic anti-Semitic attitude and conviction of Hitler’s policies.

The members of the GDCh Board of Directors and the Commission emphasize that the decision to no longer name the previous Alfred Stock Memorial Prize after Alfred Stock does not entail any withdrawal of the prize from previous awardees. The recognition of the award recipients for their scientific achievements in the field of inorganic chemistry remains unchanged. The youngest award winner is Professor Stefanie Dehnen, University of Marburg. She was awarded the prize in 2020. “Of course it is a strange feeling to have been the last laureate of a prestigious prize – but I think it is essential to face up to the responsibility we all bear for coming to terms with history,” she says. As a board member of the GDCh, she supported the decision.

Karin J. Schmitz
German Chemical Society (GDCh)