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Letters from Alumni

Letters from Alumni

The search began with an appeal published in the daily newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel. Freie Universität had decided to make an effort to locate its former members. The project began to grow as word got around, and the search continued through a variety of channels. In the meantime, the Office for International Affairs has received more than 1,000 responses.

Below are abridged versions of some of the letters we received.

A solid basis? November, 1948, on Ihnestraße: students rest on an American car that happened to be parked there. At right: the Law Dept.; at left: the lecture barracks.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

A friend sent me a notice from the Tagesspiegel that made me laugh at first: the FU didn't know who had studied at the university, never having compiled a list of its own graduates. How marvelous: no files by means of which one might be tracked or hounded — whether one wants to be or not! [...]

I studied musicology and art history [...] at the FU from October, 1948, until the beginning of 1954. I came from the East, and was lucky to number among the initial 2,000 students to be examined and admitted. My subjects were later referred to as the "luxuries" (Orchideen- fächer), as it was (especially in those days) almost impossible to make a living from them. The heavens be praised, that the enrollment speech given by the new rector, Hirsch, so enraged me that I poured out my scorn on paper and sent the results to the Tagesspiegel. They printed my article — my first publication ever. The FU reacted with annoyance and began a disciplinary action against me for issuing false reports. The editor — a worthy man by the name of Ewald Weitz — promised to protect me if necessary. His question [...] — whether I had really written the article myself — led to an invitation to "submit something else once in a while." And so it came to pass that instead of emigrating to Australia (I was already married), I worked at the newspaper as an unpaid trainee. It wasn't easy at the time to find such a position, but I managed.

Excuse me for this rather personal outburst — as you can see, those unbelievable first five years at Freie Universität (years which my wife spent at Humboldt Universität, politically engaged, distributing leaflets, and inciting rebellion) are full of provoking memories: founding years are always rousing times.

In short, now you are acquainted with one of the original FU students.

Manfred Sack / Hamburg


One-time assistant at Freie Universität: The Right Reverend Simon Barrington- Ward, former Bishop of Coventry (Photo: private).


Ladies and Gentlemen!

You are looking for your former students! I am one of them: I began my studies in November, 1949, when the Institute of Physical Education was founded. I took the state exam in English Language and Literature and Physical Education, and was active in the teaching field for several years.

But I am writing for a different reason. I suppose you would like to compile a chronicle of the FU, and in this context, I wanted to tell you that the Right Reverend Simon Barrington-Ward, Bishop of Coventry (England), who preached in Dresden on the occasion of the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche in the presence of the English Queen and many other internationally known dignitaries, was active in the English Seminar at the FU from 1952 until ?? (I don't remember the precise dates any longer), where we practiced conversation with him.

Rose Christel Wittke, born in Buchholz / Berlin


University politics: Convention in the building used by the Medical Dept. on Königin-Luise-Straße, winter semester '49-50. Left, standing: Chairman of the 1st Convention, Peter Lorenz; 2nd from right: Student Parliament Chairman Helmut Coper.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

We belong to the oldest generation: we met at the FU, and were married in 1955. We are both modern language philologists, and were both teachers, although also active in other professional areas. We are registered in the "Studiendank" (record of studies) under the numbers 101 and 432.

My wife, Inge Krauß, from Von-Luck-Straße 37 in Nikolassee, was a student of philosophy: she was registered at the FU from October 7, 1949, until September 28, 1955. She majored in English Language and Literature, Romance Languages and Literature, and History. She belonged to the group which was invited to Stanford University for the winter semester 1952-53, in order to experience other approaches to study and student representation in the context of the project "Reeducation of Germany." My wife was then a delegate to the Convention. [...]

I myself was already active at the FU when it was founded. [...] Like many other students, lecturers, and staff, I participated in the setting-up of the English-American Seminar on Boltzmannstraße [...] I founded a subject-oriented student association, the "Seminar Club," and served for a time as its "president." Together with the German-French and German-Italian student groups, we formed the "Bund Berliner Studenten" (BBS), making a rather Spartan residence on Argentinische Allee available to students from the East without homes (we paid for this from membership fees). I was a member of the Convention, as well as being a student assistant, and later a research assistant. [...]

Gerhard Müller / Kamen in Westphalia