Munich University: Class of '50
A Case Study in German Re-Education
The sound of a wood-saw filled the winter air as I left the Ludwig Strasse and entered the grounds of the University. Students were reducing cordwood piled inside the main corridor into shorter lengths that would give some degree of heat to such classrooms as were left undestroyed by bombs. These men did not look like university students. Their ages were uncertain, not readily guessed from their faces. Their clothes were nondescript: parts of uniforms, worn civilian suits, carpenters’ aprons, headgear of all shapes and sizes—except for the jaunty student caps of earlier times. There was no gaiety, no laughing or shouting, but hunched against the bitter January wind that cut through the university quadrangle, they worked silently and joylessly like laborers who wait for the end of the day.
Those Americans who have sentimental attachments to the grounds of the Ludwig-Maximilian Universitaet should avoid renewing them. Official reports have it that the University is approximately fifty per cent destroyed, but aesthetically the destruction is practically total. The imposing entrance from the Ludwig Strasse, with its large fountain, is a shambles, and inside the quadrangle the great Aula is demolished from a direct bomb hit. The library is now a dark basement room on the right side of the square. Only those lecture halls facing on the Amalien Strasse are comparatively intact, but exterior damage gives them, like everything else at this largest and most famous of South German universities, a comfortless, forbidding appearance. Place names have been changed once again since Hitler’ demise, and one reads Sophie and Hans Scholl Platz, Huber Platz, etc., in memory of the University’ newest martyrs, the seven who fell in the Student’ Revolt against the Third Reich in 1942–43. Nowhere does the eye find a spot which is as it was, a pleasant corner to remind one of the past.
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