Polish university to restore PhDs stripped by Nazis

Anthony Weiss

(JTA) — A Polish university will symbolically reinstate 262 doctorates, most of Jewish academics, annulled by the Nazis almost eight decades ago.

The University of Wroclaw, in the Polish city of the same name, announced Monday that it will restore the degrees at a ceremony on Jan. 22.


The announcement is somewhat complicated by the fact that the degrees were issued by a university which no longer exists, the French news agency AFP reported. The city and the university had previously been known under the German name of Breslau while under German rule. After World War II ended in 1945, the city became a part of Poland, and the university dissolved. Its students and teachers became a part of the German University of Cologne, while the university campus was reorganized as the University of Wroclaw.

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” University of Wroclaw spokesman Jacek Przygodzki told AFP.

During the Nazi regime, universities regularly stripped degrees and titles from Jews and other scholars seen as hostile to the Nazis, and the then-University of Breslau stood at the forefront of this dubious practice.

“By the standards of Germany, Wroclaw University was at the forefront when it came to withdrawing titles: its senate was extremely zealous,” German historian Kai Kranich said, according to The Telegraph, citing the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.