The Institute emerged from a week-long symposium held in Ilmenau, Germany in 1922. The First Marxist Workweek
was organized and funded by German-Argentinean agricultural magnate Felix Weil
with the purpose of combining the different trends of Marxism. The symposium was attended by Georg Lukács
, Karl Korsch
, Karl August Wittfogel, and Friedrich Pollock, among others. The event was reportedly so successful that Weil set about erecting a building and funding salaries for a permanent "Institute for Marxism" modeled upon the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow.
In 1923, with the help of the German Communist Party, the Institute for Social Research
was opened at Frankfurt University with Carl Grünberg as its first Director.
The initial work at the Institute was oriented towards exploring Marxism as a scientific and economic methodology, but after the death of Grünberg and the temporary directorship of Pollock, Jewish Marxist Max Horkheimer
was appointed the to the chair and changed the direction of the Institute from promoting an orthodox Marxist
philosophy to what would later be called "cultural Marxism
," better known as "political correctness