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11 September 2006

New Book from the University of Heidelberg: "The University of Heidelberg under National Socialism"

Rector Prof. Peter Hommelhoff: "All those with positions of responsibility at this university should read this book to impress upon themselves just how fragile the foundations are on which we today are privileged to engage in academic activity"

The extensive publication project "The University of Heidelberg under National Socialism" has recently been brought to a close and the work of the editors Prof. Dr. Wolfgang U. Eckart, Prof. Dr. Volker Sellin and Prof. Dr. Eike Wolgast is now available in the bookshops.

In his editorial for the "Ruperto Carola" research magazine Prof. Hommelhoff underlines:

"Like many other universities in Germany, Heidelberg has long been undertaking the attempt to penetrate the darkest chapters of its history from various perspectives and viewpoints. The essential thing is not to consign to oblivion what happened under the aegis of the Nazis but to preserve the memory of it as a warning for future generations. The most extensive foray in this direction has been undertaken by the Heidelberg historians Wolfgang Eckart, Volker Sellin and Eike Wolgast with their joint publication 'The University of Heidelberg under National Socialism'. Thirtysix authors have provided serious academic analysis of the oppressive situation and its ongoing exacerbation in the six Faculties in existence at the time, the individual departments and the University as a whole.

The section on psychiatry is the one that provokes the greatest unremitting horror and the deepest revulsion. The murderous euthanasia programme was very largely devised and implemented by the psychiatric department in Heidelberg. It is here that the name of the University of Heidelberg was sullied in the most heinous manner and for a very long time to come.

In the section on the leading administrative bodies of the University during the Nazi era, the editors expose the central actors of those dark days in no uncertain terms. In this they are quite rightly not content to indicate the parameters that robbed the University of Heidelberg of its reputation for liberality and cosmopolitanism by merely referring to the laws, edicts and stipulations reflecting this process. Instead, they unerringly point the finger at the ideologically warped rectors, teachers and student leaders who did all they could to ensure that the University was fully geared to the tenets of National Socialism ('our blood-bound world-view stands above science and scholarship') and that the very last Jews and their relatives, as well as the critics of the regime, were vilified and hounded out of the University.

For this unsparing confrontation with the realities of National Socialism at the University of Heidelberg the authors, and above all the editors, have earned our profound gratitude. All those with positions of responsibility at this university — notably responsibility for student education and the welfare of junior academics — should read this book to impress upon themselves just how fragile the foundations are on which we today are privileged to engage in academic activity."

For further information go to www.uni-heidelberg.de/magazin/2006/topthema_0806.html

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317
michael.schwarz@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/presse/index.html


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