Activities on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the University of Halle

The DARC’s local branch “MLU Halle” (DOK W35) and its club station DL0MLU take part with amateur-radio suited means in the events in the context of the 500th foundation anniversary of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, which take place from 31 October 2001 till 31 October 2002. The local branch issues the short-term award “500 Years of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg” which has been recognized by the German Amateur Radio Club DARC. Futhermore, it issues the special-event DOK identification “500 MLU”.

The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg is the oldest and largest educational institution of the county of Sachsen-Anhalt and is one of the earliest universities to have been founded in Germany.

On July 6th, 1502, on request of the Saxon elector Frederick the Wise, the emperor Maximilian grants the foundation privilege for the university of Wittenberg, also called Alma Mater Leucorea, which was established on 16th of October of the same year. From the outset it is a full university: it covers an artistic, theological, juridical and medical faculty. In 1514, a chair for mathematics was established.

Martin Luther (1483–1546) ranks among the important early professors: on request of the vicar of the Augustinian hermits, Johann von Staupitz, Luther came as a lector for philosophy to the university in 1508, in 1512 he got a chair for theology. He has become well-known for his 95 theses to the archbishop of Magdeburg and Mainz, Albrecht von Brandenburg, against the sale of indulgence which he is supposed to have nailed at the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. It is only authentic that he read instructions for indulgence dealers and that he wrote a letter in this regard to his catholic superiors. Of course, the unrests in the context of the reformation did not remain without effects on the university.

In 1680, a knights’ academy was founded in Halle which was equipped with all university rights. Later, it came under the protection of the elector Friedrich III and was financially supported by him. Subsequently, the Halle University was founded on the birthday of the Brandenburg-Prussian elector Friedrich III on July 11th, 1694.

On June 21st, 1817, both universities were united to the “United Friedrich University”; the Wittenberg academic collections attained to Halle. In the periphery of the university, the today’s German academy of the natural scientists, Leopoldina, is staedily based in Halle.

Since the university’s foundation, important professors established its humanistic and progressive prestige, so for instance: Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), Christian Thomasius (1655–1738), August Hermann Francke (1663–1727), Christian Wolff (1679–1754), August Hermann Niemeyer (1754–1828), Julius Kühn (1825–1910), Georg Cantor (1845–1918).

In the first third of the 20th century the university ranked among the most important German universities. Three Nobel-prize laureates worked at it: the physician Emil Adolf von Behring (1854–1917), the physicist Gustav Ludwig Hertz (1887–1975) and the chemist Karl Ziegler (1898–1973).

Since 1929, the university met hard strokes of fate: the university is menaced with its closing due to decreasing student numbers. Since 1940, there were considerations to relocate it at Posen or Eger. The policy of the times of the Third Reich and of the GDR considerably limited the free development of the university and their members and students.

In 1933, on the occasion of the 450th birthday of Martin Luther, the university was renamed to “Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg”; this name is valid until now. The monarchal name became displeasing in Nazi time and was, therefore, already liquidated in 1930. The reformator stylized to a national hero became the new name giver.

Since 1990, people has been anxious to tie in with the tradition and the reputation of the university again: the structure of the university is strengthened by the integration of the Pedagogical College of Halle-Köthen and some departments of the Technical University of Merseburg, but also by the establishment of new departments and institutes. Furthermore, the old university location of Wittenberg has been revived since 1992.

May the ceremonies on the occasion of the 500-year’ existence extend the fame and reputation of the university and the absence of all rigorousness!