History

The institute, founded in 1946 by Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz, is located in Braunschweig, Germany. In 1970 the institute, which belongs to the top European wood research institutions, joined the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Learn more about the development of the institute and it's directors.

Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Klauditz and the foundation of the »Institut für Holzforschung« (Institute for Wood Research)

Name-giver and founder Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Klauditz

When Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz died in a car crash on a business trip to Munich on June 30th, 1963, this was the deepest cut in the history of the Institute for Wood Research since the end of the war. Wilhelm Klauditz was the propelling power behind the Institute and the point of crystallization for the activities of the Verein für Technische Holzfragen e.V. (International Association for Technical Issues Related to Wood). He had provided the impulse for the establishment of the Institute for Wood Research under the most unfavorable circumstances, directly after the war, and had initiated and conducted the essential research and co-operations himself. One year after his death, the Institute was renamed in his honor as »Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut für Holzforschung«, thereby drawing attention to the special character which Dr. Klauditz had given the Institute.

In 1903, the year in which Wilhelm Klauditz was born, wood research was still a young and barely-recognized scientific discipline. There were already established research facilities in the field of forest science: since 1816 the Forstwissenschaftliche Akademie (Forest Science Academy) in Tharandt near Dresden, since 1830 a Forstakademie (Forest Academy) in Eberswalde and since 1868 a further academy in Hannoversch Münden. However, material-related wood research as an independent field was disregarded and barely established institutionally until after the First World War.

After high school, Wilhelm Klauditz studied chemistry and in 1928, at the age of 25, he was conferred a doctor's degree in engineering science. He then received a grant from the Justus-Liebig Foundation, enabling him entry to the University in Halle where he worked for a year as scientific assistant. In 1929, he joined the central laboratory of Koholyt GmbH in Cologne where, during the subsequent takeover of the company by Feldmühle AG, he was promoted to the position of deputy leader of the research department in Odermünde near Stettin. In 1939 he left the company to become a scientific employee at the Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung (German National Institute for Wood Research) in Eberswalde near Berlin.


The foundation of the Prussian Institute for Wood Research in 1930, which would later become the Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung (German National Institute for Wood Research), is particularly owed to the commitment of Professor Dr. C. G. Schwalbe. The institute attended to the task of improving the wood usage of the German forestry sector through research and development work. In 1934, Professor Schwalbe left the institute, which was then divided into a mechanical-technological institute and a chemical-technological institute. Following the end of the Second World War, the Institute for Wood Research would be formed therefrom. From 1939 onwards, the two independent institutes operated together under the name »Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung«.

Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz quickly established himself at the Reichsanstalt. In 1944, he became the leader of the chemical-technological institute as successor of the deceased director Prof. G. A. Kienitz. The leader of the mechanical-technological institute was the renowned wood researcher Franz Kollmann. In those days, the work of the Reichsanstalt dealt with the development of more effective methods of the use of wood in order to diffuse the critical situation under the conditions of the war economy.

The surrender of the German Reich also meant the end for the Reichsinstitut. The location of Eberswalde near Berlin lay in the middle of the front lines of the Red Army, which lead to an evacuation of the institute to makeshift premises; in February to Tirol and then in May to Hohenschwangau and Hohenpeißberg in Bavaria. The entire technical equipment, the library and much of the research of the Reichsinstitut were thereby lost. Under the worst conditions imaginable, work was continued for a further two months until July 1945, when the work had to be terminated due to lack of money.

At first, Wilhelm Klauditz tried to safeguard the core of the staff for the re-establishment of an institute for wood research by suggesting its incorporation into the forestry department of the Technical University in Munich. The TU, however, had other priorities, forcing Dr. Klauditz to seek a partially privately-funded solution.

Dr. Klauditz therefore contacted his former academic teacher Prof. Dr. Gustav Gassner in Braunschweig, who was the Principal of the Technical University after the war. Prof. Gassner was very interested in bringing the institute to Braunschweig, but the situation at the TU – completely ruined buildings and a desolate financial situation - did not allow the incorporation of the institute at the university. Dr. Klauditz therefore pursued the idea of financing the institute partly through donations from the industry. He found support at the Homogenholzwerken GmbH which, in December 1945, offered to accept a part of the costs for the continuation of the chemical-technical institute. This was the impulse which was necessary in order to motivate further sponsors. In spring of 1946, the idea of financing the institute through a »Verein für technische Holzfragen« (Association for Technical Questions related to Wood) was born. This idea was probably encouraged by Dr.-Ing. Hermann Winter, professor for aircraft construction and lightweight construction in Braunschweig. The support of the town, the forestry commission, the chamber of commerce, the university and the enterprises MIAG and Homogenholzwerke encouraged Dr. Klauditz to extend an invitation to attend the founding meeting of the Association on July 7th, 1946.

Under the name of »Versuchs- und Beratungsstelle für technische Holznutzung des Vereins für technische Holzfragen e.V.«, the institute moved into its rented rooms on Steinriedendamm in July 1946. The »building« was a hut of 260m², partly war-damaged and partly structurally-incomplete. However, the space was sufficient and after three months of overhaul, the first research work could begin. In August 1946, Dr. Klauditz went to Bavaria to collect the remaining equipment which had been saved there from the Reichsinstitut. The transfer was not simple, as Bavaria belonged not to the British but to the American occupation zone.

In 1949, when the institute was given the name »Institut für Holzforschung«, Dr. Klauditz had achieved his first goal: the number of members had increased steadily and now totaled 102. The financial background was now as good as protected. Whilst during the early years the research work had dealt with purely raw material-related issues, the main emphasis was now moving more and more towards the development of manufacturing methods for artificial wood-based materials.

In 1952 the Institute, in recognition of its outstanding scientific performances, was integrated into the Technical University of Braunschweig; the funding remained thereby unaffected. The recognition of the particle board as the most important material for furniture is owed to the research work carried out by Dr. Klauditz during this time.

Dr. Klauditz experienced the laying of the foundation stone for the new Institute building - a matter that was close to his heart - and also the completion of the building in 1961; he did not, however, live to see the incorporation of the Institute into the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in 1972. The gap left by his unexpected death through accident in the year 1963 was so huge that it took five years to find a suitable successor for the management of the Institute.

Sources

"40 Jahre Holzforschung in Braunschweig: Vom Stamm zur Platte" (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, 1986)

and

"50 Jahre Verein für Technische Holzfragen" (anniversary publication, 1996)

Since 2010

© Photo Fraunhofer WKI

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal Director of the Fraunhofer WKI

Since 1st October 2010, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal has been the Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg. He is also Chair of Organic Materials at the Institute of Building Materials, Concrete Construction and Fire Protection (IBMB) at the Technical University of Braunschweig.

His main research at the TU focuses on the use of organic materials in constructive and non-constructive applications. The co-operation with the Fraunhofer WKI has been strengthened through the mutual Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures, which interdisciplinarily examines the ecologically and economically-meaningful use of renewable raw materials in the construction industry.

Prof. Kasal previously studied, taught and researched for many years in the USA. Before moving to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, he held the Hankin Chair at the Pennsylvania State University from 2005 to 2010 as well as professorships for architectural technology, civil engineering and environmental protection technology. His work there focused upon residential construction, wood science, heritage preservation, the impact of natural hazards on buildings and the use of composite materials in structures. At the Penn State University, he also headed the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.

From 1992 to 2005, Prof. Kasal taught at the chair for wood and paper research as well as the chair for civil engineering at the North Carolina State University.

Professor Kasal was Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, Professor at the Czech Technical University in Prague and Honorary Research Associate at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

From 2001 to 2002, Prof. Kasal was Senior Fulbright Fellow and visiting professor at the Technical University in Dresden.

 

 

2010 (Acting Director)

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Prof. Dr. Tunga Salthammer

Prof. Dr. Tunga Salthammer assumed the position of Acting Director from 1st January until 30th September, 2010. Since 1st March, 2011 he has been the Deputy Director of the WKI.

Professor Salthammer studied chemistry at the TU Braunschweig.  After completing his studies and receiving his degree, he joined the Fraunhofer WKI in 1990 as a scientist. Since 1995 he has been the Head of Department for the Department of Material Analysis and Indoor Chemistry. In 2008 he habilitated at the Faculty of Life Sciences at the Technical University of Braunschweig. He works for diverse international commissions and authorized bodies and is recognized worldwide as an expert in the field of indoor air hygiene. He holds numerous guest professorships, for example in Denmark, China and Australia. 

1989 – 2009

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Prof. Dr. Rainer Marutzky

Prof. Dr. Rainer Marutzky was born in 1947 in Halle an der Saale. From 1968 until 1973 he studied chemistry at the Technical University of Braunschweig. Following this, he worked until 1975 as scientific assistant in the Gesellschaft für Biotechnologische Forschung (Society for Biotechnological Research, GBF) in Braunschweig. In 1975 he was conferred a doctor's degree on the subject of enzyme chemistry and biophysics, following which he took his post-doctorate at the GBF. From 1976, Prof. Marutzky was employed at the WKI, initially as scientific assistant and later as Head of the specialist department for Environmental Research. From 1989, he was the Acting Director of the WKI. In 1992, Prof. Marutzky was officially appointed Director of the WKI.

In 1991 he had habilitated at the Institute of Natural Sciences at the Technical University in Braunschweig and in May 1996 he was appointed Professor.  His field of scientific work focused mainly on environmental protection within the wood industry and questions concerning wood bonding. He was also actively involved in European standardization. Professor Marutzky was Director of the WKI until 31st December, 2009. 

1974 – 1989

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Gert Kossatz

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Gert Kossatz was born on April 14th, 1929 in Dresden. After finishing high school, he began an apprenticeship as cabinetmaker which he successfully completed in 1949. He then went on to study industrial architecture at the University of Dresden where, in 1955, he graduated as an engineer. At the same time, he worked as assistant manager in the company where he completed his apprenticeship. From 1955 to 1960, he was a scientific assistant and later senior scientific assistant and lecturer at the Institute for Wood and Fiber Material Technology at the Technical University in Dresden.

In 1957 he was conferred a doctor's degree at the Faculty for Civil Engineering at the TU Dresden.  Following this, he worked as head of department at the Institute for Building Materials at the German Academy of Construction in Berlin, as consultant engineer for light construction and construction physics, and as project engineer for the wood and building material industry.

In 1969 he habilitated at the Faculty for Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University in Dresden. From 1974 onwards he was Director of the Wilhelm Klauditz Institute and simultaneously professor (apl.) in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, and honorary professor at the Technical University in Braunschweig. In 1986 he was elected as member of the International Academy of Wood Science. He left the WKI on 31st March, 1989.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Gert Kossatz died on April 26th, 2013 aged 84 after a short illness.

1968 – 1973

Prof. Dr. forest. Horst Schulz

Prof. Dr. forest. Horst Schulz was born on November 6th, 1924 in Berlin. After finishing high school, he studied at the Humbolt University in Berlin/Eberswalde where he completed his studies with a diploma in forestry. Following this, he worked until 1953 as ranger’s assistant in the forestry office in Joachimstal, as administrator for the provincial government for forest utilization in Brandenburg and as assistant and then senior assistant at the Humbolt University in Berlin. In 1954 he was conferred a doctor's degree in forestry which was followed by his habilitation in 1960 at the Georg August University in Göttingen. In 1963 he completed a one-year research fellowship at the Harvard University, Mass./USA.

 From 1965 to 1968 he acted as FAO expert within the framework of the UNDP program (university lecturer and consultant to the wood industry in Chapingo/Mexico). From 1968 to 1973 he was successor to Dr. Klauditz as Director of the Wilhelm Klauditz Institute.
Prof. Schulz died on February 6th, 2002.

1963 – 1968 (Acting Director)

Dr. rer. nat. Günther Stegmann

Dr. rer. nat. Günther Stegmann was born on January 20th, 1914 in Berlin. After finishing high school he studied natural science at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. In 1939 he was conferred a doctor's degree in natural science. From 1940 to 1941, he worked as scientific employee at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin in the department for fiber research, and from 1942 onwards as research officer and head of department at the chemical-technological institute of the Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung (German National Institute for Wood Research) in Eberswalde.

From 1946 onwards, he worked at the »Testing and consulting body for technical wood utilization of the Association for Technical Issues Related to Wood«, which later became the Wilhelm Klauditz Institute. After the death of Dr. Klauditz in 1963, Dr. Stegmann took over the temporary leadership of the Institute. He also continued publication of the renowned journal »Holzforschung« (Wood Research). He retired in 1977. Dr. Stegmann died on December 28th, 1999.

1946 – 1963

Name-giver and founder Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Klauditz

Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Klauditz was born on February 24th, 1903 in Vechelde near Braunschweig. He studied chemistry at the Technical University in Braunschweig and in 1928 he was conferred a doctor's degree in engineering science. In 1929 he joined the central laboratory of the Koholyt GmbH in Cologne. After the takeover of the company by the Feldmühle AG in 1934, Dr. Klauditz was in 1936 promoted to the position of the deputy head of Feldmühle's research laboratory in Stettin. In 1939 he moved to the Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung (German National Institute for Wood Research), where he worked as scientific employee. In 1941 he became the deputy director and in 1944 the director of the chemical-technological institute of the Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung.

In 1946, Dr. Klauditz contributed substantially to the foundation of the »Testing and consulting body for technical wood utilization of the Association for Technical Issues Related to Wood« and became its director. In 1950 he received the lectureship for »Wood research and wood technology« at the Technical University in Braunschweig. From 1951 onwards he published the trade journal »Holzforschung« (Wood Research). In 1953, Dr. Klauditz was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany). From 1954 onwards he worked in international organizations (OEEC, FAO, ECE). Dr. Klauditz died in a car crash on June 30th, 1963 during a business trip to Munich.