Cancel culture at the German university

The iconoclasts are on their way again. This time in Tübingen in southwestern Germany. The beautiful provincial town is home to one of the oldest and most venerable universities in the country for thinkers and poets. If we can still call Germany that. The culture of cancellation blown over from America is gradually spreading there as well. Its publishers are now targeting the university’s two namesakes: Count Eberhard V., who founded the university in 1477, and Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, …

The iconoclasts are on their way again. This time in Tübingen in southwestern Germany. The beautiful provincial town is home to one of the oldest and most venerable universities in the country for thinkers and poets. If we can still call Germany that. The culture of cancellation blown over from America is gradually spreading there as well. Her herald now addresses the university’s two namesakes: Count Eberhard V., who founded the university in 1477, and Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, who renamed it Eberhardo-Carolina in 1769 and as its’ rector ‘from 1767 to 1793. perpetuus’ worked.

To the ax

If it depends on the students’ representatives of a social democratic nature – JUSO (Jungsozialisten) – Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen is simply changed to…. University of Tübingen. A lot of secrecy and ‘postmodern’ and in line with academics’ anglomania, which speaks to the outside world about ‘University of Tübingen’.

And if the iconoclasts get their will in the vote on July 21, their university will also break with the German tradition of naming this institution after a prominent thinker, poet or monarch. Their colleagues from Universität Greifswald already preceded them in 2018. In that year, Ernst Moritz Arndt went after the ax, a poet and publicist from the early 1800s, who wrote nonsense about the French – Napoleon occupied Prussia at the time – and about the Jews . That Arndt had helped to abolish serfdom did not count (see the article Breakthrough).

Keep critical of the light

What do Eberhard V. and Karl Eugen have on their numbers that people want to delete their names? The count would have been guilty of ‘anti-Semitism’, and the duke would have acted as an autocratic ruler. For example, he is also said to have sold young men as soldiers to foreign powers.

In 2021, a committee of historians was set up to critically examine the lives and works of the two monarchs. The committee’s ruling was not in black and white. The two monarchs are to be understood and valued as children of their time. It is true that Count Eberhard wrote negatively about Jews, but under his rule there were no pogroms against them.† That he lives on in the perception as ‘Judenfeind’ actually goes back to the National Socialists, who wanted to displace the image of Eberhard as a humanist – because the founder of a university.

Karl Eugen, for his part, abolished torture, promoted the wool industry in Württemberg, and founded the Hohe Karlsschule. Admittedly, the duke used authoritarian methods of education, and the poet Friedrich Schiller, who received his doctorate from the Hochschule, subsequently fled Württemberg. Karl Eugen – presumably under the influence of his second wife – switched from despot to a ‘Landesvater’ who cared about the fortunes of his principality.

Historical context

The working group of historians is not in favor of removing or maintaining the traditional name of the university, but only recommends an “intensive and differentiated scientific elaboration” of what is associated with the two monarchs. The Christian Democrats of the CDU, meanwhile, have joined the dispute. Of course, they reject anti-Semitism and an authoritarian style of government, but they argue for ‘a critical yet adapted discussion’: the two founding monarchs must be seen in their historical context.

Boris Palmer (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), ‘Oberbürgermeister’ in Tübingen, notes on his Facebook page that Jusos’ claim “recognizable [ontspringt aan] the Woke Cancel Culture ‘. Palmer himself is not very popular within the Green Party due to his unorthodox views (see the article Breakthrough). He is aware of the name question: ‘So if the University of Tübingen should no longer bear the name of its founder, then all old German universities would have to rename their founder […] Some fault will be found in everyone. ‘ (Therefore, if the University of Tübingen no longer bears the name of its founder, all old German universities would have to discard the names of their founders (…) Somewhere one will find a fault in each of them. ‘) .

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