The history of the Technical University of Gdańsk
up to 1945

FIRST YEARS

 

Since 1891 the contemporary Prussian Authorities had considered the possibility of erecting a Higher School in Gdańsk. The suggestion of forming a University aroused the opposition of scientists from Królewiec (Königsberg) who feared a competition for their "Albertina". In 1897 an influential editor of the liberal "Danziger Zeitung", Heinrich Rickert put forward the idea of creating a Technical University in Gdańsk. The project was approved of by the Municipal Council, which had previously acquired building grounds on St. Michael's Road (the present Traugutta Street). Conferences, discussions and experts' reports took over a year. Some competitors appeared, namely the towns: Wrocław (Breslau), Poznań (Posen), Elbląg (Elbing), Szczecin (Stettin), Królewiec (Königsberg), Toruń (Thom) and Bydgoszcz (Bromberg). Finally the emperor William II declared for Gdańsk. On l6th March the members of Prussian Parliament ratified the decision and awarded 6 million marks.

In March the general designer Albert Carsten arrived in Gdańsk. The construction of the buildings started in August of the same year. Within 4 years buildings, comprising the total of 200,000 m3, had been erected on the 6.4 ha of the territory. The first inauguration was celebrated on 6th October 1904.

BUILDINGS

The main building of 122,000 m3 comprising about 210 rooms besides attics and basements was the largest of the erected buildings. In the four-storey building there were 17 lecture rooms with 27 to 140 seats, 24 drafting rooms of 12 to 24 tables, 36 studies for professors and assistant professors, 11 rooms for assistants, 11 rooms for collections and educational equipment. There were also special rooms for social activities, sanitary arrangements even garages for bicycles. The central part contained the main staircase, two Halls, the Senate Chamber, the Rector's Office and the Assembly-Hall. The extremely rich interior abounded in gilded details and Secession adornment. Windows of the representative chambers were provided with painted glass in their low parts. The Senate Chamber adorned with oak panels in old Gdańsk style, and the Assembly Hall entered through a portal ornamented with figures symbolising Art and Technology were the most elegant rooms. Richly carved professors' stalls and the platform were situated at the right side of the dais. Inlaid panels ran all around the Hall; the railing of the gallery had also been adorned. Brown, green and gold dominated in the colour scheme. The vaults of the Upper Hall outside the Assembly Hall was supported by columns made of red sandstone from the Main region. The pillars of the lower Hall had tombac rings at the bottom - while the tops of columns were adorned with coats-of arms of different towns. The railings made of wrought-iron were noble in their forms. Unfortunately, the inner decoration was destroyed in the fire of 1945. However, the exterior of the building has survived in its most part and its symbolism refers to the destination of the building. A medallion presenting Wilhelm II, not existing at present, was placed over the main entrance, while effigies of scientists and pioneers of technology such as K. Sehinkel (architect), G. Hagen (a co-inventor of the flow-law), A. Borsig (a producer of early locomotives) and F. Schichau (a ship builder) were placed over the windows of the high ground-floor. The oval small window over the main entrance was embellished by Secession stained-glass. Beautiful bronze bowls adorning the magnificent stair landings and serving as torches on specially solemn occasions have neither survived. A slim clock tower crowning the roof witha gilt allegorical figure symbolising Science holding a torch was also destroyed. Summing up, the main Building can be considered as an outstanding achievement of Eclectic Architecture.

The similar style and conception are the features of other preserved buildings, thus that of Chemistry, Electrical Engineering and the Machine Hall with the characteristic water-tower. The equipment of the Hall had been meant not only to serve teaching aims, but also to provide water, heating and current for the whole University. In order to make it more easy for students of architecture to master the contemporary fashion of plant ornamentation a special pavilion had been built for growing decorative plants. It is worth mentioning also other outfits such as furniture and apparatuses showing high quality and aesthetics values. How great attention was paid to modernity can be proved by the fact that certain scientific instruments were imported from the World Exhibition in St. Louis.

Even before I World War the development of the University had started. In 1909 a building for the Strength of Materials Laboratory and in 1912 the Institute of Hydromechanics were erected and the Machine Hall was extended.

ORGANISATION

According to the act of the October 1, 1904 - the University was named the Royal Technical University of Gdańsk (Königliche Technische Hochschule zu Danzig) and it was directly under the authority the President of so called Western Prussia. The accepted organisation scheme was similar to that of the Technical University in Aachen with the exception of the Mining Faculty instead of which the Ship Building Faculty was created. There were six faculties: I. Architecture, II. Civil Engineering, III. Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, IV. Ship Building and Ship Engines, V. Chemistry, VI. General Sciences. The University obtained full academic rights. The first four faculties offered four-year course of studies. A secondary school certificate (9 years) was required to be admitted to the University. This condition did not oblige volunteer students who had, however, no rights to take exams or receive diplomas. After four semesters regular students had to pass an interim stage examination and after the following two years a diploma examination. Post-graduates were awarded the title of certified engineers in ten specialities. On completing post-graduate independent studies on a subject having an element of novelty a student obtained the title of doctor of science - which opened the possibility of taking a post-doctoral degree and acquiring the position of a private associate professor at all universities in Germany.

THE STAFF

In the academic year 1904/1905 there were 28 permanent professors, one honorary professor, 12 associate professors, 4 lecturers, 40 posts for assistants. Up to the year 1914 the total number of professors raised up to 31, that of associate professors to 26 (including 11 private associate professors), the number of lecturers remained 4 and posts for assistants 51.

Hans von Mangoldt, an outstanding mathematician, whose manuals are still famous, was the first Rector of the University. Among other famous professors of this period it is necessary to mention Albert Carsten, a famous designer of bridges Reinhold Krohn, an outstanding architect Friedrich Ostendorff, an architecture historian Adalbert Matthaei, a reconstructor of Malbork Castle Konrad Steinbrecht, a chemist Otto Ruffa, a physicist Max Wien, a designer of ship engines Herman Föttinger. The full list of the curriculum had 260 subjects (counting separately lectures, laboratories and practice). Lectures for external visitors were held as well.

STUDENTS

The buildings of the Technical University were designed for 600 students with the possibility of extending that number up to 1000. 189 students were registered in the year 1907. There were 57 volunteers and 353 visitors which made 599 students for whom lectures were given. By 1914 the number of students had raised up to 675, the number of volunteers oscillated between 49 and 102, and that of visitors between 76 and 731. Usually there were the highest number of students at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, the lowest at the Faculty of General Sciences. Just in the year 1905/1906, 16 diploma examinations were recorded, and in 1914 that number raised up to 77. The first doctorate took place in 1906. The number of promotions in the years between 1906 and 1914 did not exceed 7 yearly. In general, 640 diplomas and 62 doctorates had been registered up to the year 1914.

THE POLES

Since the beginning of University activity great attention was paid to the problem of nationalities. Foreigners were able to study only when they had got the agreement of the Ministry, and the number could not exceed 10 percent of the total number of students. Poles living in the territories being a part of German Reich - namely in Wielkopolska, Silesia or Pomerania - were not considered as foreigners, Germans, however, from the parts of Poland annexed by Austria and Russia were treated as such. In those days Polish students were not numerous, as they rather chose one of the more famous schools in Germany. Anyway, in the first semester 2 students from Poznań and the Congress Kingdom of Poland were registered. By the year 1914 the number of students admitting their Polish origin had not exceed 10-12 though in fact the number might have been much higher. In 1913 a clandestine Polish Association of the Students of the University of Gdańsk was created, with the aim of national activity and the fight for the independence of Poland. The new association developed co-operation with the contemporary Polonia of Gdańsk.

THE WAR PERIOD

After the outbreak of I World War the actual number of students decreased because of general mobilisation and it amounted from 116 in the academic year 1914/15 up to 170 in 1918/19 - just to be only 71 in 1917. Part of the staff was mobilised as well. 158 students and professors were killed in the War. A part of the University building was turned into a hospital. Anyway the University continued its work. Between 1914 and 1918, 99 students were awarded with their diplomas, and 25 with doctor of science degrees. The War affected the University in the academic year 1917/18 when the number of diplomas fell down to 3 and doctorate degrees to 1.

In the same war year 1917 the statute of the University was amended. The position of permanent professors disappeared and instead new terms for titles were introduced, namely that of associate professors and professors.

THE POST - WAR PERIOD

Thanks to the defeat of the Central States and active endeavours of the whole nation, the Polish independent State was re-established. The unstable situation and the threat from the East hindered an effective action on all fronts. In 1929 the Free City of Gdańsk was created. According to the convention signed in the same year by Poland and Gdańsk, full rights were to be granted to Polish population in. Since 1919 steps had been taken to assign the Technical University to Poland, Polish side arguments were factual and persuasive. The University was built mostly for the money of Polish tax-payers from Pomerania, Wielkopolska and Kujawy regions - and it was meant to serve principally the inhabitants of those territories restored to Poland after the War. Gdańsk contribution to those expenses was rather slight. The Free City was neither able to finance the University nor to guarantee the full appointment of the staff and an adequate number of students. In spite of this the Inter-Allied Commission for the Partition of Property assigned the University to Gdańsk on July 28, 1921. The decision was accepted thanks to the agreement signed by Poland and the Free City of Gdańsk the day before, which guaranteed equality of rights to Polish students and obliged the University authorities to introduce lectures on Polish language and on economic geography into the curriculum, as well as to provide the necessary Polish manuals and educational aids. Since then the official full name of the University was the Technical University of the Free City Gdańsk (Technische Hochschule der Freien Stadt Danzig). However, as in the pre-war period that name was usually shortened to the Technical University of Gdańsk (Technische Hochschule Danzig) in private and official papers e.g. diplomas.

ORGANISATION CHANGES

In 1922 the organisation system of the University was changed. The existing so far joint faculties were separated - and simultaneously united into 3 new Faculties: I. General Sciences, II. Civil Engineering, III. Mechanical Engineering. The first one comprised the following divisions: Ia Liberal Arts (new), Ib Mathematics and Physics, Ic Chemistry; the second Faculty included: IIa Architecture, IIb Civil Engineering; the third faculty: IIIa Machine Engineering, IIIb Electrical Engineering, IIIc Shipbuilding (since 1929 Shipbuilding and Aeronautics). The number of faculties increased form 6 up to 8 due to the fact that the Electrical Engineering Faculty was separated from the Faculty of Machine Engineering, and due to the creation of the new Faculty of Liberal Arts. Besides since l921 a new External Institute was formed which delivered paid courses for visitors.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY

The raise of the number of students and the intensification of the University's activity resulted in the necessity of the further development. The erection of a new building, the so called Auditorium Maximum, which contained the largest lecturing theatre (for 400 seats) and was designed for physics was the largest scale investment in 1929. Prof. Carl Ramsauer was the general designer. Following the example of the Zenneck Theatre at the Technical University in Munich the auditorium was separated from the preparation room by a movable wall, so that it was possible to prepare there displays, while a lecture was being held in the auditorium. The building was of the cubature of 23,000 m3 and it was kept in the Cubist style. It was supposed to be joint with the developed Chemistry Building, but it had never happened. The new hall equipped with a functional demonstration table, was at that time the best lecture hall in Europe. At the same time the building of the Electrical Engineering Faculty was developed, the east nave of the Machine Hall was raised, and the pavilion for Hydromechanics enlarged. In the unused so far attics of the Main Building, new drafting rooms and an aerodynamic tunnel (over the Assembly Hall) were created. In inner courts covered with a glass roof room was found for the Collections of Railways Engineering and the Museum of Mechanics. The total cubature of the buildings raised up to 222,000 m3.

The area of the University was enlarged as well. A student hostel was erected in 1928 (in the present Siedlicka Str.). It included a canteen, (which had previously been located in a barrack between the Main Building and the Chemistry Building), club rooms and a cafe. Since 1924 the adjoining square had served sports training courses. The Aeronautics Institute acquired the previous Lodge of Free Masons located in the present Własna Strzecha Str. Created in 1925 the Agricultural Department was placed in the present Rogaczewski Str., and since 1927 Botanical and Zoological Institutes had used the premises of the Teachers' Seminar, in the present Sobieski Str. The casamates of the Grodzisko hill were being hired and adapted to serve as student quarters and corporation seats.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STAFF

The training system of the staff resembled the present one in many aspects. After receiving a diploma a graduate was able to apply for assistantship, and began to work on his doctoral thesis under a professor's supervision. Besides the title of a doctor-engineer, since 1928, it was possible to obtain a doctorate in technical sciences, and since 1933 to gain the title of Doctor of Philosophy (at the Faculty of General Sciences). In turn, after obtaining a doctorate, it was possible to qualify for an associate professor (English Scientific titles only approximately reflect the functions in the organisation structures of Central European Academic Schools), thus on the basis of the thesis to be entitled to deliver lectures. As a result of the 1922 reform the previous assistant professors obtained the title of associate professors, or left the University. Still some classes were turned over to private assistant professors (private docent), that meant to people not working full-time at the University. There was an important number of young professors in the University staff. In that area Rudolf Plank set the record who was lecturing on thermodynamics and theory of machines in the years 1913-1925 and who became a professor at the age of 27. There was an important development of the staff in comparison with the previous period. While just after the war, in the academic year 1920/1921 there were 36 professors (including the honorary ones) - in the academic year 1928/29, the number reached 39. Similarly the number of associate professors were 2 and 13, that of assistant professors were 22 and 14 (including private ones 7 and 12), of assistants - 50 and 77. Together with lecturers of foreign languages there were respectively 112 and 152 academic teachers. Throughout those years the number of subjects raised from 270 to 435.

PROFESSORS

Among the outstanding professors of the inter-war period Adolf Butenandt should be mentioned at the first place. In the year 1939 he was awarded the Noble Prize for his work on isolation and synthesis of human hormones. Carl Ramsauer, famous for his research on interaction between electrons and molecules and for the discovery of a phenomenon named after his name, and Walther Kossel who carried out research on X-ray crystal spectra and was the author of the theory of bonds were the most renowned physicist. In the branch of chemistry Wilhelm Klemm is worth mentioning for his achievements as one of co-inventors of magneto-chemistry. Karl Kupfmuller was an outstanding electrical engineer, who, for many years, directed the research work in the Siemens and Halske Company in Berlin. A physicist Georg Hass, who later, after II World War, was in charge of laboratories in USA, achieved an international fame.

Regarding the history of Gdańsk, historical papers - though not always objective - by a historian Erich Keyser and an archaeologist Wolfgang la Baume, as well as by architects Karl Gruber and Otto Kloeppel, shall be mentioned. The high level of teaching was to be noticed at the Faculties of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Faculty (Machine Engineering) and Shipbuilding. Among the lecturers invited from abroad there were such celebrities as Svante Arrhenius, Max von Laue and Ludwig Prandtl.

The most important event in the history of the University Library was, in 1923, the taking over an invaluable book collection, comprising 35,000 volumes, of the Natural History Society of Gdańsk, founded in 1743. The collection of the Library steadily increased. While in the academic year 1908/1909 it counted up to 26,000 volumes, in 1920/21 - 51,000, in 1928/29 it already contained 110,000, and in 1943 nearly l50,000. Over 1500 titles of scientific magazines were currently collected. Because of the limited area for storage designed for 50-58 thousand books, the adjoining corridors were adapted for the collection. The library development planned in 1924 had never taken place.

STUDENTS

The between-war period characterised of a considerable raise of the number of students in the comparison with the previous period; in the winter semester of 1922 there were 1651 of them, in 1929 their number was 1630, and in 1933 - 1548.

The Faculty of Machine Engineering was the most popular faculty - the Faculty of Arts was the least popular one. Alike within the previous period, there were always volunteers - whose number oscillated between 26 and 134, and visitors counting from 63 up to 428. As every time and everywhere only a part of students graduated. In 1921/22 there were 77 graduate examinations while in 1938/29 their number raised up to 202. The number of doctorates was respectively 17 to 18. The highest number of doctorates (30) were awarded in the academic year 1923/27. In total, by the year 1928, 1976 diplomas and 225 doctorates had been awarded. The number of specialisation raised up to 18 (without Humanities). Cultural activities shall be also mentioned here. The orchestra known as Collegium Musicum created in 1926 and conducted by Prof. Gothold Frotscher was the best known music-band.

THE SYSTEM OF STUDIES

The final certificate from a gymnasium of Gdańsk, Germany, or any other equivalent school, was the credential to be admitted to the University. If a rather long time had elapsed from leaving a school and a person had not been a student elsewhere, the candidate had to present a morality certificate. Students coming from other universities had to present an adequate confirmation of credits. All foreign students, but Poles, had to present a passport. The studies were paid. Similarly to the previous period there were three groups of students: regular, listeners and visitors. The entrance fee for the first category was 30 guldens, visitors paid 5 guldens for a semester. Everybody paid 3 guldens for one hour of a course (on the semester scale). The global fee amounted up to 90 guldens, and the semestral fee was 150 guldens. There was an extra fee for an interim-stage examination and a graduate examination of 60 and 120 gld respectively. Those were considerable expenses. That was why the Senate (Municipal Government) paid part of the fee for students from Gdańsk, while German students received help from Berlin Society of Friends of Gdańsk Technical University. Polish students could apply for a loan granted by the Society for Cultural Aid. Poles who were living abroad could apply for a scholarship awarded by the Science Benefit Society in Gdańsk existing since 1921. It was also possible to get an extra part-time job.

POLISH STUDENTS

A considerable attendance of non-German students was characteristic for the between-war period. Thus their number included Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians - Yugoslavs, Estonians, Jews and others, the Poles, however, presented the majority of the total number of students which was from 36% in 1922 and 21 % in 1929 to 29% in 1938. Since 1922 their number had never dropped below 300; the highest was in the years: 1922 (595), 1927 (509) and 1930 (521). That fact imposed important problems on the University Authorities who tried to maintain a German profile of the University. They tried to solve it by encouraging German students to enrol by various ways of assistance. As a result of that the percentage of German students was high, from 43% in the year 1922, up to 63% in 1928. The number of students from Gdańsk itself was relatively low, only 28% in 1922 and 14% in 1928.

Just from the beginning Polish students had their own organisations. Already in 1913 the Polish Gdańsk Academic Students Union was created, which due to the situation had to be kept in secret. After World War I, with the consent of the University, open organisations were established. Those were: Polish Students Union Bratnia Pomoc in 1921, the Circle of Students of Ship Engineering "Korab" (1924), the Circle of Polish Chemistry Students (1925), the Circle of Polish Students of Architec ture of Gdańsk Technical University (I925), the Circle of Polish Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (in 1926) and many others. Apart form the above, Polish corporations were created, (German students had got 29 corporations). Moreover, there were different political societies and 3 sports societies. Polish students had their own drafting rooms and an academic hostel in the present Legionów Street. Up to 1933 the relation between the Poles and the Germans were rather correct, though not without some states of friction.

THE NAZI PERIOD

The overtaking of power in the Free City of Gdańsk by the Nazis resulted in many changes though at the beginning not as violent as in Germany. People of Jewish origin, or those who openly showed their anti-nazi attitude were gradually dismissed from the University. Elderly professors were obliged to retire - younger were dismissed or suspended. Prof. Carsten, one of the eminent designers of the University buildings, was one of the first professors to be compelled to retire. At the Chemical Faculty Prof. Wohl was forced to leave in 1933, Prof. Wartenberg in 1937 and Jellinek in 1937. From the Civil Engineering Faculty Prof. Doeinek, very popular with the students who organised a solemn farewell for him, had to leave in 1937. The former Rector, Prof. Sommer a distinguished mathematician - had to leave as well. In the academic year 1935/36 only 38 full professors, 19 associate professors and 56 assistants were actually active. That meant a serious decrease of number of the staff members.

Nearly all the students' organisation were dissolved - and instead an obligatory National - Socialistic Society was created. All the corporations were dissolved as well. Those changes did not concern the Poles who preserved their organisations. The statute of the University was changed. Racial theories were introduced into biology. All German students were obliged to have military training. In spite of those "supplementary" subjects the actual number of courses dropped in the academic year 1938/39 down to 335.

During the first years efforts were made to arrive at an agreement between Polish and German student organisations. In 1934, exchange excursions to Poland and Germany were tried to be organised. Since 1935 the relations had began to deteriorate. Ever more frequently it came to incidents among the students. The culmination reached its extreme in 1939. It was provoked by an anti-Polish note in one of the cafes in Wrzeszcz. A few days later (February 14) Polish students organised a mass meeting during which they proclaimed a resolution appealing to the Polish Government to take energetic measures in order to restore Polish rule over the estuary of the Vistula river. The Germans' reply came in no time. On February 24, 1939, Nazi-fighting squads forced Polish students out of the University. It is difficult to estimate how many German students took part in that wild incident. Accordingly to some reports there were about 200 assisted by police forces. It did not come to the previously planned attack on the Polish Academic Hostel. On the 27 February the Rector Polhausen expelled in absence 5 members of the Board of Polish Students Union for the resolution made during the mass meeting. The attacks on the Poles were continued. Under the pressure of the General Commissar of the Polish Republic, a mixed Commission was established which expressed their attitude towards the incidents. In the report of agreement the German delegation admitted the fact of the provocation on the part of German students. After the report, since 18 March Polish students could return to the University, be given the possibility to make up for the missed courses, and their possessions should be restored. That agreement had never been carried out. Some of the students returned to the University after a semestral break but it became practically impossible to continue studies.

It should be emphasised that numerous German students and a considerable majority of the professors did not take part in the incident, they, however did not have enough courage to oppose them. The earlier efforts of Prof. Sommer to condemn the idea of forming a students' "seat ghetto" had led to the his dismissal. The same fate met Prof. Krischen of the Faculty of Architecture for having made fun of the uniformed party activists. All those incidents were obviously steered from the outside and constituted links of a provocation chain which were meant to prepare the outbreak of war.

THE WAR PERIOD

At the moment of the outbreak of II World War there were no Polish students in Gdańsk, which was annexed into Deutsches Reich. The majority of students and many members of the staff were enlisted. In 1941 the Technical University was definitely subjected to Berlin Authorities. Rector Pohlhausen, who had opposed the introduction of a more severe discipline was dismissed. Prof. Martyrer, the former Deputy Rector took over.

The new statute (1941) included a series of specific regulations. Among others all the candidates had to present a certificate on Aryan origin (a party member had only to make an oral statement). Students who had to do military service enjoyed many privileges. Candidates from different technical secondary schools, being of German or "related blood", and also those who expressed loyalty to the National Socialist State were enrolled on the condition they had passed a grammar school examination with a good record. Other candidates of such schools were obliged to take a supplementary examination for a secondary-school-certificate. Those who were taking part in the War had to pass examinations in German history and geography, and also in the subject dealing with heredity and racial theory. The entrance fee raised up to 30 marks, the semestrial fee was 80 marks, and the fee for an hour course (per week) 2.5 marks.

The number of students decreased drastically, and similarly the staff. In 1944 there were formally 44 full professors, 10 associate professors and four assistant professors, but only a part of them lectured regularly. In spite of the insufficient staff a new faculty of Aeronautics was created being the fourth one in the 3rd group. However, the Agricultural Department which had been held since 1925 at the Chemical Faculty was dissolved.

In January 1945 the courses were definitely suspended. On the 2lst of January the previous year prohibition of leaving the City was cancelled. Part of the families of the University staff left for Germany by trains. Preparation for the evacuation began. The most valuable equipment, books and rectorate files were packed into 500 cases and loaded on board of the ship "Deutschland", which sailed to Kiel on the 27th January taking also the University staff members and their family, all together 300 people. From Kiel the whole shipment was sent to Schmalkalden in Turingen, where a supplementary Technical University was expected to be organised. Those who went by "Gustloff" ship drowned.

Some weeks after the shipment had been dispatched, the University was converted into a hospital for 3000 beds. All those who still stayed in the University were engaged to offer help. Ill and wounded people were placed in the Main Building, and those who suffered from contagious diseases were taken to the Electrical Institute. The Institute of Hydromechanics served as a morgue. In some buildings subsidiary rooms were organised, and in the rest furniture and hospital instruments were kept.

Any escape through land routes became impossible after the Soviet Army had occupied Sławno region. The prohibition to leave the town for men from 16 to 60 of age was still in force. Air raids began in March. On the 21th March Soviet tanks reached the Baltic Sea in the region of Sopot. The ring around Gdańsk tightened. On 26th March in the early morning the last Rector, Prof. Martyrer left the University. The centre of the Town was on fire so passing through New Port he reached the suburb Stogi, where a cutter was awaiting him. His report on the night passage to the Hel peninsula contains a terrifying relation of the Town on fire.

At the time of the Rector's departure the University was still untouched, except for the Laboratory of Strength of Materials destroyed during an air raid, as well as some small turrets which were knocked down. In the afternoon of the same day, after a violent artillery attack, the Russians occupied the University area and expelled all people hidden in the cellars. Accordingly to the report of eyewitnesses, only then a fire arose in the western part of the Main Building, which destroyed 60% of it, and a part of the Chemistry Building. The Library was burned out with that part of the volumes which had not been removed, as well as all the representative rooms in the centre of the Main Building. The total destruction of the University was estimated at 16% of the cubature.

Andrzej Jnuszajtis

OUR ATTITUDE TO TRADITION

The decree issued on 24th March 1945 was the basis of the University activity after the War: "The Cabinet Council settles and the State National Council confirms as follows: Art. l. The Technical University of Gdańsk becomes a Polish Academic School". This significant decree ensured the legal continuity. The University was not dissolved only converted into a Polish Academic School. It bears definite consequences among others the right to the University property - also of what had been dispatched abroad. The destiny of the equipment which had been shipped to Schmalkalden is unknown, however, it might have survived there till now. Several documents returned and housed in the Record Office of Gdańsk, others are in Hannover. The most valuable part of them has been found in Berlin. Those are 855 titles from the collection of books given to the University of Gdańsk by the Natural History Society of Gdańsk in 1923. In 1993 the Town Authorities of Bremen had solemnly returned two "white crows", dating from the 17th century, and they declared that it was only the beginning of the property restoration to the legitimate owners. The restoration of the rest will be possible after international negotiations have been completed.

The problem of continuity arousing no doubts within the first post-war years causes several controversies at present. There is a great divergence of opinions - from an emotional negation of any relation to the pre-war University to a full awareness of the continuity of anything that has been good. To what degree are we continuators? Undoubtedly those who organised the University after the War were pioneers. Their toil was equal to that the creation of a new University. On the other hand at least 36 of the after-war scientific lecturers, among them sixteen professors, originate from the pre-war University students and graduates. It is obvious that they have introduced the great part of the scientific and teaching tradition. In spite of the considerable development of the University buildings within the post-war years we are still working in the old lecturing rooms and laboratories, we use the same equipment. We reject the old political and administrative traditions but we need not be in different to the achievements of the eminent pre-war professors, such as Butenandt, Kossel, Mangoldt, Quick, and others so firmly connected with Gdańsk as Carsten, Matthaei, Gruber, Kloeppel and numerous other scientists of European fame. Moreover, the Poles will always cherish the traditions associated with the academic community of pre-war Polish students - who have left here their imperishable and laudable traces.

The proper assessment of anything left in the material domain: buildings, elements of the interior, furniture, equipment and scientific instruments, is the important aspect of the problem. Too much was destroyed or removed as a result of the wrong assessment of their low value. The University was exceptional also in that field; its uniform outfit has always been distinctive for its high quality and special beauty. What has survived should be given attentive care to as it may, even at present, constitute a core of a future museum of science and technology, one of the most interesting in Poland. It would be worth attempting the reconstruction of some of those damaged or removed elements of the internal outfit, such as the clock turret, the beautiful front door, the bronze bowls on the outer landing, stylish painted glass - and even to restore gradually, according to future possibilities, the outfit of the Assembly Hall and that of the Senate Chamber. Without these elements the Main Building will always appear to be incomplete.

Andrzej Januszajtis