TUM recounts its history during the Nazi era

The exhibition at the TUM shows archive material which had not been published ye

The exhibition at the TUM shows archive material which had not been published yet. (Image: Jens Weber)

To mark its 150th anniversary, the TUM, in conjunction with the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, is presenting an exhibition documenting its history during the Nazi era. TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann emphasizes the social responsibility inherent in science and technology, which is also dictated by the legacy from the past. The exhibition will run until August 26.

The exhibition on the history of the Technische Hochschule München (now the Technical University of Munich) during the Nazi era documents in particular the personnel, ideological and institutional changes that took place at that time, as well as efforts to engage the university in war preparations and the development of armaments.

Other topics will include the expulsion of Jewish and politically "incompatible" university lecturers, the stripping of doctoral titles and the willingness of professors to self-mobilize in service of the Nazi regime. The focus is on changes in teaching and research in the individual departments and on the ideologization and militarization of the university.

The joint exhibition hosted by the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism and TUM was curated under the stewardship of Prof. Winfried Nerdinger, TUM Emeritus and founding director of the center.

"Acknowledging and engaging with all facets of our history"

"The twelve years under the Nazi regime marked a black spot in the history of science and universities in Germany," comments Wolfgang A. Herrmann. "The Technical University of Munich is acknowledging and engaging with all 150 years of its history, without brushing over or concealing any facets of it. Besides celebrating, this important anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past and shine some light in the dark corners." Hence the importance of making new findings available not just to the academic community but also to the wider public.

TUM has been continuously furthering research into its history during the Nazi regime since the early 1990s. An initial paper was written by Prof. Ulrich Wengenroth for the university’s 125th anniversary in 1993. Soon after that, President Herrmann asked historian Dr. Martin Pabst and the director of the TUM archives at the time, Dr. Margot Fuchs, to produce a comprehensive history of TUM. This was published in 2006 and also documented the university’s history under the National Socialism.

Honorary titles between 1933 and 1945

Based on the findings of this research, TUM symbolically reinstated doctoral titles to the scientists who had been stripped of them on racial grounds during the Nazi regime. In 2014, TUM Emeritus Prof. Joachim Hagenauer worked with Pabst on three case studies describing the courses of action open to scientists during that time. Currently, researchers are investigating the circumstances and motives for the bestowal of honorary titles between 1933 and 1945.

President Herrmann also underlines how the past informs the way TUM operates today: "What we have learned about our history during the Nazi era has prompted us to push the social sciences more to the forefront at TUM over the past decade and integrate them into our established core subjects. Our objective is to embed the social impact of science and technology firmly within all research projects and study programs."

"THM supported the Nazi regime"

Interview with Prof. Winfried Nerdinger about the exhibition


Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism
Max-Mannheimer-Platz 1 (former Brienner Straße 34)
80333 Munich
Opening times:
May 18 to August 26, 2018
Tuesdays to Sundays
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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