Technical University - Technische Hochschule


Since 1891 the contemporary Prussian Authorities had considered the possibility of erecting a Higher School in Danzig. In 1897 an influential editor of the liberal "Danziger Zeitung", Heinrich Rickert put forward the idea of creating a Technical University in Danzig. At least, German emperor Wilhelm II approved the decision and on 16th March 1899 German Parliament ratified the decision and awarded 6 million Marks for building the school. Works, uder the supervision of designer Albert Carsten, started in March 1900. After four years the buildings with cubature of 200 thousands m3 located on area of 6.4 hectares were ready.

The festive inauguration of the first academic year had place on 6th October 1904. School got the name of Royal Technical High School of Danzig (Königliche Technische Hochschule zu Danzig) and consisted of 6 faculties:

New school had all the academic rights. Studies on the first four departments offered full four-years program of courses. There were 28 permanent professors, 1 honourable professor, 12 associate professors, 4 lectors and 40 assistants, 189 students signed for the first year in 1904. Up to 1914 the number of permanent professors raised to 31, associate professors to 26, there were still 4 lectors, numbers of assistants raised to 51 and students to 675. The first Rector was famous mathematician Hans von Mangoldt.

Postcard issued for the academic year inauguration in 6th October 1904.

Between 1918 and 1921 school got name of Technical High School in Danzig (Technische Hochschule zu Danzig). When Freie Stadt Danzig was established school changed its name to Technical High School of Free City of Danzig (Technische Hochschule der Freien Stadt Danzig). On 1st August 1922 the changes in statute, regulations and the school structure were mad, instead of 6 departments three were opened:

There were three departments within Faculty I: Ia Humanistic, Ib Mathematics and Physics and Ic Chemistry, two departments within Faculty II: IIa Architecture and IIb Civil Engineering, and three within Faculty III: IIIa Machine Building, IIIb Electric Engineering and IIIc Ship Building (Ship Building and Aviation since 1929).

Celebration of 10th anniversary in 1924.

The 25th anniversary of the Technische Hochschule in July 1929, was celebrated by organizing a colorful parade, in which the main character was Gedania.

In years 1939 - 1941 the name of the school was changed into Danzig Technical High School (Technische Hochschule Danzig), and in 1941 - 1945 the name of Reich's Technical High School in Danzig (Reichshochschule Danzig) was used. Since 24th May 1945 based on edict of Polish Cabinet Council it exists as Polish school - Gdansk Technical University.

General view of the school.
Facade of the main building.
Portal of the main building.
Portal of the main building.
Emperor's face over main entrance.

Buildings of Technical High School on postcards.

Interiors of Technical University.

Plan of universitie's area with buildings location.
Plan of ground floor in main building.
Plan of upper floor in main building.
Plan of upper floor in Chemistry Institute.
Plan of ground floor in Electric Engineering Institute.
Plan of Machine Building Institute.

The buildings were kept in Eclectic style with many decorations, a medallion presenting Wilhelm II, not existing at present, was placed over the main entrance. The clock tower with the statue symbolising Knowledge, also not existing now, was built on the top of main building. The development of university stared even before the 1st world war, when the Strength of Materials Laboratory and the Institute of Hydromechanics were erected and the Machine Hall was extended. In 1920s the Student House was erected at Bosseweg (Siedlicka street) and in 1929 The Aeronautics Institute acquired the previous Lodge of Free Masons "Zum siegenden Licht" located at Eigenhausstraße (W³asna Strzecha street).

New students' house at Bosseweg.
New students' house at Bosseweg.
New students' house at Bosseweg.
New students' house, view from stadion.
Plan of students' house.
Building of Free Masons Lodge "Zum siegenden Licht" at Eigenhausstraße.

There were many foreign students at the Technical High School before the 2nd world war. The second biggest group, after Germans, were students from Poland - 595 in 1922, there was relatively small number of students from Free City of Danzig (only 28% in 1922). In 1920s and 30s there were 29 German and 4 Polish active students' organizations at the university.

Polish student's identity card.
Postcard issued by Association of Polish Students "Bratnia Pomoc"

During the 2nd world war the fees for studies raised and number of students and staff decresed dramatically because the majority of students and many members of the staff were enlisted. In January 1945 the courses were definitely suspended and the preparation for the evacuation began. The most valuable equipment, books and rectorate files were packed into 500 cases and evacuated to Germany. The university was converted into a hospital for 3000 ill and wounded soldiers. All those who still stayed in the university were engaged to offer help. After Soviet Army occupied the university area 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.

Technical University buildings after occupation by Soviet Army.

The decree issued on 24th March 1945 by the Cabinet Council stated that the Technical University of Gdansk becomes a Polish Academic School. Six faculties were established: Architecture, Ship Building, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Civil and Hydro-Engineering. The first Rector of new university was professor W³adys³aw £ukasiewicz.

In the context of Technical University history, it is very important to mention one of the staff member in Technische Hochschule and Nobel Prize laureate. Adolf Butenandt was between 1933 and 1936 the director of Organic Chemistry department. He received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1933 for the synthesis of sex hormones. Gdansk Technical University gave him the title of doctor honoris causa in 1994.

Prof. Adolf Butenandt (24 March 1903 - 18 January 1995)

Materials on this page comes from collections of Giles du Boulay and the author