Nobel laureate in literature, Herta Müller, was the featured speaker at Freie Universität’s 70th anniversary celebration.
Dec 10, 2018
The highlight of the 70th anniversary celebrations was the official ceremony on the anniversary of the actual founding day, November 4. The Nobel laureate in literature, Herta Müller, who in 2005 as the first Heiner Müller Visiting Professor of German Literature taught for a semester at Freie Universität, gave a very moving presentation.
The writer, who grew up in Romania, described what it means to live where freedom is lacking: “Freedom is always concrete,” she says. There is either freedom, or freedom is not there. If it is not there, it is missing in everything.
When she described her experiences living under dictatorship, it became very tangible to members of the audience, what propelled the 16 students in Berlin in 1948 to found their “own university,” a free university. Feeling oppressed by the increasing lack of freedom and the persecution of students and scholars at the University of Berlin, then called Universität Unter dem Linden, and which later became Humboldt-Universität, they chose to defend academic freedom.
Two of them – Klaus Heinrich and Karol Kubicki, who later both became professors at Freie Universität Berlin and are now both over 90 years old – were present at the main celebration. The president of Freie Unversität, Professor Günter M. Ziegler, said, “Freedom cannot be taken for granted. It must be defended time and time again. For our university it remains a commitment and a mandate at the same time.”