The first Rotary Club worldwide was founded in 1905 in Chicago. A summary of Rotarian ideas can be found here (in German language): What is Rotary.

The first Rotary Club in Germany was founded in 1927 in Hamburg; it was the first German city to bridge the divide to the United States since the First World War.


One year later, in 1928, the first Munich Rotary Club was founded as the fourth Rotary Club in Germany (after Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne), named Rotary Club München. The most famous member was Thomas Mann. It was only four years later, on April 4, 1933, that the celebrated author, at that time in exile in Switzerland, was removed from the list of members together with several Jewish and non-Jewish Rotarians who appeared politically unacceptable under Nazi rule.


In 1991 the first lady became a member of a German Rotary Club 90 years after Rotary had been founded in 1905 at Rotary Club München Harlaching in Bavaria, founded in 1984.