The Free University of Berlin (German: Freie Universität Berlin, often abbreviated as FU Berlin or simply FU) is a public research university in Berlin, Germany. The Free University of Berlin is one of eleven elite German research universities in the German Universities Excellence Initiative. Free University of Berlin is consistently ranked among Germany's top ten universities overall, with particular strengths in the arts and humanities followed by the social sciences internationally. It is recognised as a leading university in the international university tables.
The Free University was founded in West Berlin in 1948 with American support during the early Cold War period as a de facto western continuation of the Frederick William University, which was in East Berlin and faced strong communist repression; its name refers to West Berlin's status as part of the Western Free World, in contrast to the communist-controlled university in East Berlin.
In 2008, in a joint effort, The Free University of Berlin, along with the Hertie School of Governance, and WZB Social Science Research Center Berlin, created the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies.
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Free University of Berlin was established by students and scholars on 4 December 1948. The foundation is strongly connected to the beginning of the Cold War period.
The University of Berlin was located in the former Soviet sector of Berlin and was granted permission to continue teaching by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) in January 1946. The universities were increasingly influenced by Communism as they were ground for the political disputes of the postwar period. This led to protests by students critical of the prevailing system. Between 1945 and 1948, more than 18 students were arrested or persecuted, some even executed by the Soviet secret police (NKVD).