The University of Erfurt is one of the oldest and youngest universities in Germany. What sounds paradoxical at first glance points to a long and varied history. The former Alma Mater Erfordensis with its founding privilege of 1379 is considered the oldest university before Heidelberg (1385) and Cologne (1388). However, the late medieval educational centre, where Martin Luther had already completed his studies of "Liberal Arts", was closed in 1816. Its memory always remained alive, but nevertheless some years were to pass before the university was re-founded in 1994.
The University of Erfurt thus combines centuries-old tradition with a lively present. In the cityscape this is condensed in the historic main building Collegium Maius in the old town and in the modern campus on Nordhäuser Straße. The former home of the Erfurt Circle of Humanists also stands for the coexistence of yesterday and today. As the Studentenzentrum Engelsburg, it contributes significantly to the flair of the university city. In addition, the University of Erfurt is a true civic university. It was founded by the medieval city council on the one hand and by today's university society on the other. The latter was founded in 1987 as the GDR citizens' movement, which not only initiated the re-foundation of the university, but also gave important impetus to the peaceful revolution of 1989.
according to Dr. Steffen Raßloff, Erfurt historian
1293 | The collegiate and monastic schools are merged into a "studium generale"
1379 | Pope Clemens VII in Avignon grants the foundation privilege for the University of Erfurt, which is thus considered the oldest university in present-day Germany.
1389 | Due to the schism, the privilege must be renewed by Pope Urban VI in Rome.
1392 | The municipal university is opened.
1396 | The Archbishop of Mainz becomes chancellor of the university.
1398 | The statutes are first assigned to the law school. In 1412, the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology follows, and in 1417 the Faculty of Medicine.
1412 | Amplonius Ratingk de Berka donates his library with 635 volumes.
1433 | The Collegium amplonianum (porta coeli) receives the deed of foundation of Amplonius Ratingk de Bercka.
1436 | The Collegium universitatis becomes the Collegium maius.
1501 | Martin Luther begins studying the liberal arts in Erfurt.
1510 | Violent clashes between students and citizens of Erfurt occur. The Collegium maius is destroyed.
1515 | The first part of the "Dunkelmännerbriefe" (Epistolae obscurorum virorum) appears.
1516 | The humanist circle meets under Eobanus Hessus in the "Engelsburg".
1521 | Martin Luther is led in a procession to Erfurt – the occasion for the Erfurt parish priest's storm.
1530 | The Hammelburg Treaty between the Archbishop of Mainz and the city of Erfurt guarantees Catholics and Protestants the practice of their faith.
1632 | During the Swedish occupation the university is converted into a Protestant university.
1648 | The state of the multi-confessional university is restored.
1664 | The University of Erfurt becomes the Kurmainzische Landesuniversität.
1681 | The Collegium maius becomes the headquarters of the university.
1754 | The Academy of Non-Profit Sciences of Erfurt is founded.
1778 | Christoph Martin Wieland draws up an expert opinion on the reform of the university, but Dalberg's attempt at reform fails.
1808 | During the Congress of Princes of Erfurt, Napoleon, among others, supports the last attempts to save the university.
1816 | The University of Erfurt is closed by Prussia.
1882 | One of the nine historical murals in Erfurt's town hall is dedicated to the "old" university. The scholars depicted there represent the four medieval faculties: Martin Luther (theology), Eobanus Hessus (philosophy), Henning Goede (law) and Amplonius Ratingk de Berka (medicine).
1929 | The Pedagogical Academy is founded. However, it has to be closed again in 1932 during the world economic crisis.
1952 | The Catholic Church founds the Philosophical-Theological Studies, which later becomes the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Erfurt.
1952 | Work begins on one of the largest building projects in Erfurt's history: The campus on Nordhäuser Straße. The new University of Erfurt is also located here in 1994.
1953 | The Pedagogical Institute is opened and in 1969 is ceremonially upgraded to the Pädagogische Hochschule „Dr. Theodor Neubauer“ Erfurt-Mühlhausen by Minister of Education Margot Honecker.
1954 | The Medical Academy is founded.
1987 | Citizens of Erfurt, together with Aribert Janus Spiegler, an employee of the Medical Academy, founded the "Old University of Erfurt" interest group. Their aim: the refoundation of the University of Erfurt.
1990 | The interest group publishes the appeal for a "European University Erfurt" and has been able to win over not only the city of Erfurt but also federal politicians such as the then Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker.
1994 | In January, the law on the "Reestablishment of the University of Erfurt and the dissolution of the Medical School" comes into force. With the renaissance of the traditional Alma Mater Erfordensis, a central goal of the citizens' initiative had become reality.
04/1994 | Under the motto "Dare new things!" the refoundation of the University of Erfurt is sealed with a ceremony in the Augustinerkloster.
11/1996 | Prof. Dr. Peter Glotz is appointed Rector of the University.
04/1997 | Prof. Dr. Dieter Langewiesche becomes founding dean of the Faculty of Philosophy.
04/1998 | With Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schluchter as Founding Dean, the Max Weber Centre for Cultural and Social Studies begins its work.
09/1998 | Together with the Thuringian Prime Minister, Dr. Bernhard Vogel, and the Thuringian Minister of Science, Dr. Gerd Schuchhardt, Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Glotz lays the foundation stone for the new university library building.
04/1999 | With the new version of the Thuringian Higher Education Act, the Gotha Research Library together with the Erfurt University Library forms the University and Research Library Erfurt/Gotha.
10/1999 | With the ceremonial enrolment of the first 139 students, the University of Erfurt begins its studies in the Faculty of Philosophy.
10/2000 | The Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences commences with the study courses Law, Social and Economic Sciences.
01/2001 | The Pädagogische Hochschule Erfurt-Mühlhausen is integrated into the University of Erfurt, at the same time the Faculty of Education is founded.
11/2003 | The Philosophical-Theological Studies is integrated as the Faculty of Catholic Theology.
2013 | The Erfurt School of Education, the Gotha Research Centre and the Willy Brandt School are designated as central institutions.
10/2016 | The Centre for Communication and Information (KIZ) is opened. It houses the University Computer and Media Centre (URMZ) and two lecture halls.
01/2018 | The Gotha Research Library becomes an independent scientific institution of the University of Erfurt.
2019 | The University of Erfurt celebrates its 25th anniversary with numerous events.
07/2019 | The University of Erfurt becomes a member of the German Research Foundation (DFG)
10/2019 | The ground-breaking ceremony for the new "World Relations" research building on campus is held.
The University of Erfurt resides in listed buildings, most of which were built in the 1950s and early 1960s for a teacher training institute.
Sources: Günther Lucke, Anlage zur Eintragung in die Denkmalliste, Az. EF EIN 1 L 09-013 (1993); St. Burucker, Projekt 31: Pädagogische Hochschule Erfurt, in: J. Behrens, M. Mann, B. Zimmermann (Hgg.), Architektur in Erfurt von den 20ern bis zur Gegenwart. Erfurt: VHT 1999, 76-81; eigene Recherchen. | Compiled by Prof. Dr. Kai Brodersen.
Erfurt. The oldest and youngest university in Germany.
2014 | 52 pages | available free of charge from the Universitätsgesellschaft and Press Office of the University
The buildings of the University of Erfurt are decorated with numerous contemporary art objects, murals and architectural decorations.
On the occasion of the redesign of the entrance area after the construction of dormitory V (today employee building 1), a steel sculpture designed by Heinz Scharr (*1924) was erected in the same period, which had a striking effect on the entrance area of the Pädagogische Hochschule (University of Education).
The overall composition is characterized by clearly contoured persons (which is the nature of technology), but also by strong black and white contrasts. The conception of the figures is clearly reminiscent of Fernand Leger, especially with regard to the representation of the faces. Since his works do indeed contain elements of a socialist-heroic impetus, it is quite conceivable that the Frenchman influenced the creator of the metal sculpture.
Three stone mosaics designed by Gottfried Schüler (1923-1999) are installed in the foyer of the lecture hall. They thematise structure (left), leisure - friendship - love - family (centre) and music - learning - art (right).
Due to the material they are not very colourful. The figures are represented in an angular and abstract way, so that the choice of colour together with the cubic forms makes one think remotely of cubist pictorial inventions. Similarly, some figures - strongly depicted in profile - in front of a light background are reminiscent of paintings in Egyptian pyramids. A black outline makes the figures stand out clearly against the background.
The group of figures on the gable above the neoclassical portico was designed by Helmut Braun (*1925), who was also involved in the high reliefs on the auditorium extension of the teaching building I.
It depicts a female and a male allegorical figure, unclothed, with their legs crossed in front of their shame, holding a globe with their arms in their middle, on which a dove of peace is depicted. The limestone version was the work of the master stonemason Otto Lehmann from Erfurt.
The high relief Friese were created by Hans Walther (1888-1961) and Helmut Braun (*1925). They thematize literature, art and music (north side, created by Braun and Walther) and various teaching situations (west side, created by Walther, south side, created by Braun).
In front of Auditorium 3 there is a monumental mural from 1966, created by the Erfurt artist Lutz Gode (*1940), which shows students (in a style reminiscent of New Objectivity art).
Also by Lutz Gode from 1990 is an oil painting in front of lecture hall 4, a slightly abstract figurative composition.
Two further landscape-format oil paintings hang in the same corridor: "Landschaft mit Erntearbeitern" (Landscape with Harvesters), a painting in the style of 19th-century Realism by the Erfurt artist Karl Ortelt (1907-1972), and "Industrielandschaft bei Sondershausen" (Industrial Landscape near Sondershausen) by the Erfurt artist Wolfgang Taubert (1909-1990), which is also reminiscent of 19th-century Realist works in terms of its theme and style.
In the staircase of Building II, which was erected in 1958-1962 in a steel skeleton construction, there are two north-facing stained glass windows measuring 6 x 10 m, which extend over several storeys and completely fill the wall. The windows were built in 1963 according to a design by Otto Kayser (1915-1988) and Gottfried Schüler (1923-1999) and were manufactured in Magdeburg using glass cutting and etching techniques.
The windows each fill out the "compartment" of the wall consisting of ten units. Each of the high rectangular "compartments" is divided into nine areas by metal bars. Originally, the building included the subjects of mathematics and physics; the abstract glass windows, on which signatures and formulas of Einstein, Planck and Copernicus can be read, take this theme into account.
In front of the administration building there is a bronze bust of Theodor Neubauer on a stele together with an inscription. The Pedagogical Institute was renamed "Pädagogische Hochschule Theodor Neubauer" in 1965, and the bronze bust also dates from this year.
It was created by Walter Arnold (1909-1979), who was a professor at the College of Fine Arts in Dresden at the time.
In 1969, the cornice of the belt was removed from the north gable of student residence I and instead a large mural was added, created by the Weimar artist Herbert Reiher in sgrafitto technique.
The mural shows young people in front of grey-green, earth-coloured and white geometric surfaces: a man and two women doing sports. The figures are marked by outlines and have no colour of their own, so that the background colours shine through them.
We offer a more detailed and illustrated presentation of the art (German only) on campus written by Ulrike Wollenhaupt-Schmidt with supporting documents for download.
Translated with DeepL Translator (free version)