University of Wrocław

University of Wrocław

The University of Wrocław ( _pl. Uniwersytet Wrocławski; _de. Universität Breslau; _la. Universitas Wratislaviensis) is one of nine universities in Wrocław, Poland.


The town council first established a university in the 16th century; King Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary signed the foundation deed on July 20 1505. Due to fierce opposition from Cracow Academy officials, however, the new academic institution was soon closed. In 1702, Emperor Leopold I founded a small Jesuit academy on the same premises and named it, after himself, the Leopoldine Academy.

After most of Silesia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia during the Silesian Wars, the academy was merged with the Protestant Viadrina University, previously located in Frankfurt (Oder). From the two, the "Universitatis Literarum Vratislaviensis", which had been named "Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau" in 1809, was formed and established on August 3, 1811. At first it had five faculties: philosophy, medicine, law, Protestant theology, and Catholic theology.

The university developed very rapidly in the second half of the 19th century, when it was then called the University of Breslau. At that time, numerous internationally renowned and historically notable scholars lectured at the university, including Johann Dirichlet, Ferdinand Cohn and Gustav Kirchhoff. Poles who became minority due to Germanisation of Wrocław [Norman Davies Microcosm page 110-115, 207-210] established their own student organisations and the number of Polish students reached around 16% in 1817 and 10% in 1871. The percentage of Jewish students was around 16% in 1817. [Norman Davies Microcosm page 334, 336] This situation reflected reflected the multiethnic and international character of the University. [Norman Davies Microcosm page 110-115, 207-210] Polish student organisations included Concordia, Polonia and a branch of the Sokol association. Many of the students came from other areas of partitioned Poland. They were all eventually disbanded by the German professor Felix Dahn. [Norman Davies Microcosm page 334, 336] Jewish students established two organisations, Viadrina in 1886 and the Jewish Student Union in 1899. In 1913 Prussian authorities declared a numerous clausus law that limited the number of Jews from non-German Eastern Europe(so called "Ostjuden") that could study to 900; the university itself was allowed to take 100. [Norman Davies "Microcosm" page 337]

As Germany turned to Nazism, the university became influenced by Nazi ideology. Polish students were beaten by NSDAP members just for speaking Polish [Norman Davies "Microcosm" page 393] In 1939 all Polish students were thrown out of the university and a official university declaration stated "We are deeply convinced that Polish foot will never cross the threshold of this German university". [Norman Davies "Microcosm" page 394] In 1939 German scholars from the university worked on a scholarly thesis of historical justification for "plan of mass deportation in Eastern territories". Among the people involved were Walter Kuhn, a specialist of Ostforschung. Other projects during World War II involved creating evidence to justify German annexation of Polish territories, and presenting Kraków and Lublin as German cities. [Norman Davies Microcosm page 389, 390]

Six years after banning Poles from the University and declaring that Poles will never be allowed to return, the German professors left the city in January 1945 while Germany lost the Second World War, only to be replaced by Polish academics. Many of the buildings were partially destroyed during the defence of the city. After World War II, it was occupied by the Soviet Union and placed under the administration of the People's Republic of Poland, while the German population was largely expelled, deported or fled. Part of the collection of the university library was burned by soldiers of the Red Army on May 10 1945, four days after the German garrison surrendered the city.

The first Polish team of academics arrived in Wrocław in late May 1945 and took custody of the university buildings, seized all property from surviving German professors, and started to rearrange the university buildings, which were 70% destroyed. Very quickly some buildings were repaired, and a cadre of professors was built up, many coming from prewar Polish universities in Wilno and Lwów. The university was refounded under its current name as a Polish state university by a decree issued on August 24, 1945. Its first lecture was given on November 15, 1945 by Ludwik Hirszfeld. From 1952 to 1989 the University of Wrocław was known as Boleslaw Bierut University, after Bolesław Bierut, the former president and prime minister of Poland. In 2002 the university celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding.

Notable alumni

Nobel Prize winners:
* Friedrich Bergius
* Max Born
* Hans Georg Dehmelt
* Paul Ehrlich
* Theodor Mommsen
* Otto SternNotable students and tutors:
* Adam Asnyk
* Robert Bunsen
* Adalbertus Langiewicz, M.D.--died in the Warsaw Uprising of 1831
* Stephan Cohn-Vossen
* Jan Dzierżon
* Norbert Elias
* August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
* Gustav Freytag
* Otto von Gierke
* Fritz Haber
* Clara Immerwahr
* Barbara Piasecka Johnson
* Jan Kasprowicz
* Gustav Kirchhoff
* Wojciech Korfanty
* Emil Krebs
* Ferdinand Lassalle
* Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz PM 2005/2006
* Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy
* Joseph Schacht
* Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
* Otto Stern
* Mieczysław Wolfke

Presidents of the university (after World War II)

*Stanisław Kulczyński - 1945-1951
*Jan Mydlarski - 1951-1953
*Edward Marczewski - 1953-1957
*Kazimierz Szarski - 1957-1959
*Witold Świda - 1959-1962
*Alfred Jahn - 1962-1968
*Włodzimierz Berutowicz - 1968-1971
*Marian Orzechowski - 1971-1975
*Kazimierz Urbanik - 1975- 1981
*Józef Łukaszewicz - 1981-1982
*Henryk Ratajczak - 1982-1984
*Jan Mozrzymas - 1984-1987
*Mieczysław Klimowicz - 1987-1990
*Wojciech Wrzesiński - 1990-1995
*Roman Duda - 1995 - 1999
*Romuald Gelles - 1999-2002
*Zdzisław Latajka - 2002-2005
*Leszek Pacholski - 2005-


External links

* [ University of Wrocław website]

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