Chemistry can look back upon a more than three hundred year development at Leipzig University, which was founded in 1409. It can be traced back to the start with MICHAEL HEINRICH HORN (1668-1681) and the beginning of mineralogy with KARL FRIEDRICH NAUMANN (1842-1870).

With OTTO LINNE ERDMANN (1872/31-1869), founding publisher of the Journal für Praktische Chemie in the year 1834, the first Chair for Chemistry (Professorship of Chemical Technology) was established at the Faculty of Philosophy.  The first chemical laboratory was housed in the basement of the Pleißenburg in 1804, where the Neues Rathaus stands today. Presiding over this laboratory was CHRISTIAN GOTTHOLD ESCHENBACH. In 1843 OTTO LINNE ERDMANN moved to a new, better equipped laboratory in the Fridericianum.

The greatest achievements in chemistry in Leipzig are connected to names such as HERMANN KOLBE (1865-1884), JOHANNES WISLICENUS (1885-1902), GUSTAV HEINRICH WIEDEMANN (1871-1887), WILHELM OSTWALD (1887-1906, Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1909), ERNST OTTO BECKMANN (1897-1912), ARTHUR HANTZSCH (1903-1930) and BURCKHARDT HELFERICH (1930-1945).

The chairs during the difficult times after World War II were LEOPOLD WOLF (1945/47-1961), WILHELM TRIEBS (1951-1961), HERBERT STAUDE (1947-1959) and EBERHARD LEIBNITZ (1951-1968).

In 1951 the Chair for General, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry was split into two, yielding the Chair for Inorganic Chemistry and the Chair for Organic Chemistry, while also establishing the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry as well as the Institute of Organic Chemistry. By this time, the Chemical Laboratories belonged to the Mathematical and Natural Sciences Faculty. Simultaneously, the rebuilding of the laboratory building on Liebigstraße and Linnestraße, which had been destroyed by an Anglo-American bombing on December 4th 1943, commenced. HEINZ HOLZAPFEL, MANFRED MÜHLSTÄDT and GERHARD GEISELER filled the direction of the institutes until 1968.

Back in May of 1938, the Pharmaceutical Chemistry under KARL HUGO FRIEDRICH BAUER had split from the group of Chemical Institutes and formed their own Institute of Pharmacy. Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, formally belonging to the Mathematical and Natural Sciences Faculty (Phil. II), later became part of the Life Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine.

Mineralogy, Crystallography and Petrography were developed under the chairs of KARL FRIEDRICH NAUMANN, FERDINAND, ZIRKEL (1870-1909), FRIEDRICH RINNE (1909-1928), KARL-HERRMANN SCHEUMANN (1928-1945), HERBERT PÜHRER (1946-1960) and HERMANN NEELS (1960-1978) in equal measure to chemistry at the Faculty of Philosophy and later in the Mathematical and Natural Sciences Faculty. During the chair of PETER PFAULER (1978-1992) more emphasis was placed on Crystallography. The scientific achievements and mineralogical collections were known and respected internationally.

In the course of academic reform, the institutes were combined into a Section of Chemistry (founding director: SIEGFRIED HAUPTMANN) on June 15th 1968. At first, it was structured into five research collectives, then in 1972 restructured into fourteen work groups including Crystallography. These were then condensed into eight scientific areas, including Crystallography on an equal footing, in 1982.

After the German Reunification in October 1990, CORNELIUS WEISS became the section director following a secret election. After taking up his first rectorate, his deputy HORST WILDE followed him already in March of 1991. Together with vice-directors ROLF BORSDORF and KONRAD QUITZSCH, he lead the department of chemistry at the Mathematical and Natural Sciences Faculty, during which time the Interdisciplinary Institute for Nature and Environmental Protection became affiliated, until January 19994.

On the basis of the Sächsisches Hochschulgesetz passed on August 4th 1993, the Institutes of Analytical Chemistry; Inorganic Chemistry; Organic Chemistry; Physical and Theoretical Chemistry; Chemical Technology and Mineralogy, Crystallography and Material Science were founded on December 2nd 1993. Combined with the Interdisciplinary Institute for Nature and Environmental Protection, Chemistry Didactics and the Technical-economical section, on January 14th 1994 under the first rectorate of the Professor for Theoretical Chemistry, CORNELIUS WEISS, the Faculty of Chemistry and Mineralogy of Leipzig University was established.

last modified: 27.02.2019