Imperial University of Strasbourg

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Stamp of the German Department of the University of Strasbourg, "Department of German Studies and Scandinavian Studies"

The Reich University of Strasbourg , unofficially known as the "Nazi Combat University of Strasbourg ", was founded in 1941 by the National Socialists in Alsace . On the one hand, a continuity with the German Kaiser Wilhelm University , which was supported by the German Empire, was to be established, which had existed between 1872 and the Treaty of Versailles . On the other hand, Strasbourg was to become the center of Western research . This should help to bind the western neighbors to the new European order and to win them over to the international community emerging under German leadership . The University of Strasbourg was relocated to Tübingen in autumn 1944 when Alsace was re-conquered by the French and replaced by the old French university.


In Strasbourg, the Université de Strasbourg had existed as a French university since 1919 - after the Kaiser Wilhelm University was closed. After the outbreak of war , it was evacuated to Clermont-Ferrand at the beginning of September 1939 and continued with teaching and research under the same name.

After the armistice between France and Germany in June 1940 and the German occupation of France , a civil administration was set up for Alsace. As early as July 1940 , the head of civil administration in Alsace, Robert Wagner , who also acted as Reich governor for Baden , had drafts and plans drawn up for the establishment of a university in Strasbourg, for which he considered civil administration in Alsace to be an independent authority, after this had been placed directly under the responsibility of Hitler . In this matter, however, other bodies and ministries also claimed competence and responsibility, especially the Reich Ministry of Science , which was given responsibility for the future Reich University in the competence dispute with Wagner in April 1941 and which from this point also took over the financing.


As planned, the University of Strasbourg was equipped with four faculties .

From 1941 until the conquest of Strasbourg by the Allies in November 1944, the ophthalmologist Karl Schmidt was rector of the Reich University. From 1936 to 1939 he was rector of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn . The lawyer Georg Dahm acted as his prorector .


The Reich Ministry of Science and the head of civil administration planned to provide 112 professors for the elite university , which resulted in a flood of applicants. Numerous administrative and party departments tried to influence the occupation. In fact, all of the posts were never filled and were no longer able to do so due to the war. At the beginning of 1942 z. For example, only 53 full and 11 associate professors taught at the Reichsuniversität; for the winter semester 1942/1943, the relevant personnel and course catalog included 56 full and 20 associate professors on the university teaching body.

The University of Strasbourg was opened with a ceremony on (Sunday) November 23, 1941 in the atrium of the main university building. Present were Reich Education Minister Bernhard Rust , Reich Governor Robert Wagner , State Minister Otto Meissner , numerous representatives from the party, the armed forces and the state and the rectors of all German universities.

The rector Karl Schmidt saw special tasks for the university due to its location and tradition; it should help "to convince the West of the inner new order in a spiritual area and to win it over to Europe". Rust called on the teachers and students to "enter into the legacy of the warring sexes with the weapons of the spirit and to work for a renewal of the fighting spirit of research of an awakened Europe that is only conspired to truth".

"Honored men from Alsace and the Altreich" were made honorary citizens of the Reich University.

See also: Strasbourg SC comradeships


Memorial plaque for the victims of August Hirt at the Institute for Anatomy Research

At this university, the nuclear physicist Rudolf Fleischmann , the theoretical physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker , the experimental physicist Wolfgang Finkelnburg , the chemists Walter and Ida Noddack , the geologist Otto Rudolph Wilckens (1876-1943), the constitutional experts Ernst Rudolf Huber and Herbert Krüger taught , the historians Ernst Anrich , Günther Franz , Hermann Heimpel and as assistant Hermann Löffler (1962–1973 professor at the PH Heidelberg), the art historian Hubert Schrade , the psychologist Hans Bender , the bacteriologist known for his typhus experiments on prisoners in the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp Eugen Haagen , the internist Otto Bickenbach, known locally for his poison gas experiments on prisoners, and the anatomist August Hirt, who was notorious for experiments with warfare agents on people and the murder of concentration camp prisoners for the planned “ Strasbourg skull collection ” . The personnel files of the University of Strasbourg were loaned to the Federal Administration Office by the Federal Archives on a long-term basis in 1962 and have been considered lost since 1984.

End and relocation

In August / September 1944, considerable quantities of books and scientific equipment from the university as well as the equipment of all scientific and partly medical institutes were relocated to Tübingen and other places in southern Germany . At the end of September 1944, during an Allied air raid on Strasbourg, the supply lines to the university buildings were partially destroyed, and preparations were subsequently made for the establishment of a branch of the University of Strasbourg in Tübingen. French and American troops surprisingly marched into Strasbourg on November 23, 1944, most of the university members fled and the university's operations finally came to a standstill. Officially, the Reich University was only relocated to Tübingen on December 18, 1944 by order of the Reich Ministry of Science, and lectures resumed there on a very small scale. Tübingen itself was occupied by the French military on April 19, 1945; At the end of May, the members of the Reich University who remained in Tübingen were dismissed and the library holdings and equipment of the Reich University relocated from the French side to Strasbourg - in favor of the Université de Strasbourg .


  • Christian Baechler, François Igersheim, Pierre Racine: Les "Reichsuniversitäten" de Strasbourg et Poznan et les résistances universitaires, 1941–1944. Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, Strasbourg 2005, ISBN 2-86820-268-3 .
  • Frank-Rutger Hausmann : Hans Bender (1907–1991) and the “Institute for Psychology and Clinical Psychology” at the University of Strasbourg. 1941-1944. Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg 2006, ISBN 3-89913-530-X ( border crossings  4).
  • Frank-Rutger Hausmann: Science planning and science control at the University of Strasbourg. In: Noyan Dinckal, Christof Dipper , Detlev Mares (eds.): Self- mobilization of science. Technical universities in the "Third Reich". Darmstadt 2010, ISBN 978-3-534-23285-7 , pp. 187-230.
  • Herwig Schäfer: Legal teaching and research at the University of Strasbourg 1941–1944 (Contributions to the legal history of the 20th century, vol. 23). Mohr Siebeck , Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-16-147097-4 ( review ).
  • Joachim Lerchenmüller: The end of the University of Strasbourg in Tübingen . In: Baussteine zur Tübinger Universitätsgeschichte 10, 2005, pp. 115–174.
  • Joachim Lerchenmüller: The Reich University of Strasbourg. [Security Service] SD science policy and academic careers before and after 1945. In Karen Bayer (ed.): Universities and colleges during National Socialism and in the early post-war period. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08175-5 .
  • Patrick Wechsler: The Faculté de Médecine de la “Reichsuniversität Strasbourg” (1941–1945) à l'heure nationale-socialiste. Dissertation, Faculté de Médecine, Université Louis Pasteur , Strasbourg 1991 ( full text ).
  • Teresa Wróblewska: The imperial universities of Poznan, Prague and Strasbourg as models of National Socialist universities in the areas occupied by Germany. Marszalek, Toruń 2000, ISBN 83-7174-674-1 ( review ).
  • Jost-Dietrich Busch : Legal paths between Strasbourg and Kiel, Hamburg, Göttingen. Before and after the Reich University of Strasbourg 1941–1944 . Journal for Public Law in Northern Germany 2005, pp. 150–152.
  • Alexander Pinwinkler : The doctor as "leader of public health?" Wolfgang Lehmann (1905-1980) and the Institute for Racial Biology at the University of Strasbourg, in: Revue d´Allemagne et des Pays de Langue Allemande 43 (2011), 401-417.
  • Thomas Mohnike: A science anchored in space? Aspects of a history of the "Department of German Studies and Scandinavian Studies" of the University of Strasbourg. In: NordeuropaForum 2010/1, pp. 63–85.
  • Rainer Möhler: Litteris et patriae - two German universities in Strasbourg between science and Germanization (1872–1918 and 1941–1944). In: Armin Heinen , Dietmar Hüser (ed.): Tour de France. A historical round trip commemorative publication for Rainer Hudemann (= series of publications by the Franco-German Historical Committee, vol. 4). Steiner, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-515-09234-0 , pp. 157-169.
  • Rainer Möhler: Two kinds of memories in a “historical place” - the oppressive legacy of the “Reichsuniversität Strasbourg” and the “Université de Strasbourg” from 1945 to today. In: Joachim Bauer, Stefan Gerber , Jürgen John , Gottfried Meinhold (eds.): Ambivalent places of remembrance at German universities (= sources and contributions to the history of the University of Jena, vol. 13). Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-515-11573-5 , pp. 255-280.
  • Rainer Möhler: "Ce ne sont pas des collègues". L'attitude de la Reichsuniversität Strasbourg à l'égard de l 'Université de Strasbourg repliée à Clermont-Ferrand. In: Olivier Forcade (ed.): Exils intérieurs. Les évacuations à la frontière franco-allemande (1939-1940). Paris 2017, ISBN 979-10-231-0573-5 , pp. 123-133.
  • Rainer Möhler: The Reich University of Strasbourg 1940-1944. A National Socialist model university between science, national politics and crime (publications of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg. Series B, Vol. 227). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2020, ISBN 978-3-17-038098-1 .
  • Revue d'Allemagne et des pays de langue Allemande. Vol. 43, n ° 3, July – September 2011, special issue: Une Université Nazie Sur Le Sol Francais (A Nazi university on French soil). Nouvelles recherches (Newer Research) on the Reichsuniversität de Strasbourg (1941–1944). Edited by Catherine Maurer, articles in German or French. ISSN  0035-0974 ( table of contents ).

Individual evidence

  1. s. Letter from Werner Best (Head of Administration at the French Military Commander ) May 8, 1942 to the DFG quoted from Joachim Lerchenmüller: The end of the University of Strasbourg in Tübingen . In: Building blocks for the history of the University of Tübingen, Volume 10, Tübingen 2005, p. 116.
  2. Herwig Schäfer: Legal teaching and research at the University of Strasbourg 1941–1944 . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1999. pp. 17-18.
  3. Herwig Schäfer: Legal teaching and research at the University of Strasbourg 1941–1944 . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1999, pp. 30-31.
  4. Herwig Schäfer: Legal teaching and research at the University of Strasbourg 1941–1944. Pp. 38, 43.
  5. ^ Herwig Schäfer: Legal teaching and research at the University of Strasbourg 1941–1944 , p. 35.
  6. Ralf Forsbach: The medical faculty of the University of Bonn in the "Third Reich" . Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2006, p. 266ff. ( Dig. ).
  7. Rector's speeches
  8. Schäfer: Juristic Doctrine , p. 41.
  9. Schäfer: Legal teaching , p. 59.
  10. ^ Reichsuniversität Straßburg: Personal and lecture directory for the winter semester 1942/1943 . Heitz & Co. Verlag, Strasbourg 1942, pp. 17-23.
  11. ^ Wilhelm Röhl : The reopening of the University of Strasbourg . Straßburger Schwabenblatt, 2nd war edition 1941/42, No. 119/120, pp. 2-4.
  12. see category: Hochschullehrer (Reichsuniversität Strasbourg) with currently (July 2015) 63 receipts
  13. ↑ In detail on this crime: Hans-Joachim Lang : The names of the numbers. How it was possible to identify the 86 victims of a Nazi crime . Hoffmann & Campe , Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-455-09464-3 .
  14. ^ Ernst Klee: German Medicine in the Third Reich . Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 978-3-10-039310-4 , pp. 192 .
  15. Herwig Schäfer: Legal teaching and research at the Reichsuniversität Strasbourg 1941–1944 , pp. 240–243.