University of Wrocław

The University of Wrocław (UWr; Polish: Uniwersytet Wrocławski; German: Universität Breslau; Latin: Universitas Wratislaviensis) is a public research university located in Wrocław, Poland. The University of Wrocław was founded in 1945, replacing the previous German University of Breslau. Following the territorial changes of Poland's borders, academics primarily from the Jan Kazimierz University of Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine) restored the university building heavily damaged and split as a result of the Battle of Breslau (1945). Nowadays it is one of the most prominent educational institutions in the region.[1]

University of Wrocław
Uniwersytet Wrocławski
Latin: Universitas Wratislaviensis
Former names
German: Leopoldina, Universität Breslau, Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau (before 1945)
Established21 October 1702 (refounded 1945)
PresidentAdam Jezierski
Administrative staff
Location, ,

The University is currently the largest in Lower Silesian Voivodeship with over 100,000 graduates since 1945 including some 1,900 researchers among whom many received the highest awards for their contribution to the development of scientific scholarship.[1] The University of Wrocław is renowned for its relatively high quality of teaching, placing 44th on the QS University Rankings: EECA 2016,[2] and is located in the same campus as the former University of Breslau, which produced 9 Nobel Prize winners.[3]



The oldest mention of a university in Wrocław comes from the foundation deed signed on July 20, 1505, by King Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary (also known as Władysław Jagiellończyk) for the Generale litterarum Gymnasium in Wrocław. However, the new academic institution requested by the town council wasn't built because the King's deed was rejected by Pope Julius II for political reasons.[1] Also, the numerous wars and opposition from the Cracow Academy might have played a role. The first successful founding deed known as the Aurea bulla fundationis Universitatis Wratislaviensis was signed two centuries later, on October 1, 1702, by the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I of the House of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia.[1]

The predecessor facilities, which existed since 1638, were converted into Jesuit school, and finally, upon instigation of the Jesuits and with the support of the Silesian Oberamtsrat (Second Secretary) Johannes Adrian von Plencken, donated as a university in 1702 by Emperor Leopold I as a School of Philosophy and Catholic Theology with the designated name Leopoldina. On 15 November 1702, the university opened. Johannes Adrian von Plencken also became chancellor of the University. As a Catholic institute in Protestant Breslau, the new university was an important instrument of the Counter-Reformation in Silesia. After Silesia passed to Prussia, the university lost its ideological character but remained a religious institution for the education of Catholic clergy in Prussia.

Silesian Friedrich Wilhelm University in Breslau

After the defeat of Prussia by Napoleon and the subsequent reorganisation of the Prussian state, the academy was merged on August 3, 1811, with the Protestant Viadrina University, previously located in Frankfurt (Oder), and re-established in Breslau as the Königliche Universität zu Breslau – Universitas litterarum Vratislaviensis (in 1911 named the Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau, to honour the founder Frederick William III of Prussia). At first, the conjoint academy had five faculties: philosophy, medicine, law, Protestant theology, and Catholic theology.

Connected with the university were three theological seminars, a philological seminar, a seminar for German Philology, another seminar for Romanic and English philology, an historical seminar, a mathematical-physical one, a legal state seminar, and a scientific seminar. From 1842, the University also had a chair of Slavic Studies. The University had twelve different scientific institutes, six clinical centers, and three collections. An agricultural institute with ten teachers and forty-four students, comprising a chemical veterinary institute, a veterinary institute, and a technological institute, was added to the university in 1881. In 1884, the university had 1,481 students in attendance, with a faculty numbering 131.

The library in 1885 consisted of approximately 400,000 works, including about 2,400 incunabula, approximately 250 Aldines, and 2840 manuscripts. These volumes came from the libraries of the former universities of Frankfurt and Breslau and from disestablished monasteries, and also included the oriental collections of the Bibliotheca Habichtiana and the academic Leseinstitut.

In addition, the university owned an observatory; a five-hectare botanical garden; a botanical museum and a zoological garden founded in 1862 by a joint stock company; a natural history museum; zoological, chemical, and physical collections; the chemical laboratory; the physiological plant; a mineralogical institute; an anatomical institute; clinical laboratories; a gallery (mostly from churches, monasteries, etc.) full of old German works; the museum of Silesian antiquities; and the state archives of Silesia.

In the late 19th century, numerous internationally renowned and historically notable scholars lectured at the University of Breslau, Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet, Ferdinand Cohn, and Gustav Kirchhoff among them. According to Polish professor of history Henryk Barycz in the academic year of 1813/1814 Polish youth constituted the majority of students at the University.[4] All students, including German, Polish and Jewish, established their own student fraternities. Polish student organizations included Concordia, Polonia, and a branch of the Sokol association. Many of the students came from areas of partitioned Poland. The Jewish students unions were the Viadrina (founded 1886) and the Student Union (1899). Teutonia, a German Burschenschaft founded in 1817, was actually one of the oldest student fraternities in Germany, founded only two years after the Urburschenschaft. The Polish fraternities were all eventually disbanded by the German professor Felix Dahn,[5] and in 1913 Prussian authorities established a numerus clausus law that limited the number of Jews from non-German Eastern Europe (so called Ostjuden) that could study in Germany to at most 900. The University of Breslau was allowed to take 100.[6]

As Germany turned to Nazism, the university became influenced by Nazi ideology. Polish students were beaten by NSDAP members just for speaking Polish.[7] In 1939, all Polish students were expelled and an official university declaration stated, "We are deeply convinced that [another] Polish foot will never cross the threshold of this German university".[8] In that same year, German scholars from the university worked on a scholarly thesis of historical justification for a "plan of mass deportation in Eastern territories"; among the people involved was Walter Kuhn, a specialist of Ostforschung.

In January 2015, the university restored 262 PhD degrees stripped during the Nazi period from Jews and other scholars seen as hostile to the Nazis.[9]

Notable alumni

Notable alumni and faculty of the Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau were Albert Ludwig Sigesmund Neisser

University of Wrocław

After the Siege of Breslau, the Soviet Red Army took the city in May 1945. Breslau, now known as Wrocław, became part of the Republic of Poland. The first Polish team of academics arrived in Wrocław in late May 1945 and took custody of the university buildings, which were 70% destroyed.[10] Parts of the collection of the university library were lost during the Red Army's advance in 1945,[11] burned by soldiers on 10 May 1945, four days after the German garrison surrendered the city.

Very quickly some buildings were repaired, and a cadre of professors was built up, many coming from prewar Polish Jan Kazimierz University of Lwów and Stefan Batory University of Wilno.[10] Following postwar border shifts, thousands of former employees of the Lwów Library, the Jan Kazimierz University and the Ossolineum Institute moved to the city.[12] In mid-1948, over 60% of professors at the Wrocław University and Polytechnic were from Kresy, with scholars from prewar Lwów being particularly prominent. Stanisław Kulczyński from the University of Lwów became the first president of the two Polish universities in Wrocław, while Edward Sucharda from the Lwów Polytechnic was the vice-president.[13]

The University of Wrocław was refounded as a Polish state university by the decree of the State National Council issued on 24 August 1945. The first lecture was given on 15 November 1945, by Ludwik Hirszfeld. Between 1952 and 1989 the university was named Bolesław Bierut University of Wrocław (Polish: Uniwersytet Wrocławski im. Bolesława Bieruta) after Bolesław Bierut, President of the Republic of Poland (1947–52).

In 2015, nearly 80 years after the fact, the university restored academic degrees stripped from German Jews by the Nazis owing to German anti-Semitism. "Wroclaw University estimates that in total some 262 people suffered a similar fate."[14]

Study at the University of Wroclaw

There are 10 faculties that provide 44 areas of study, in which the language medium is mostly in Polish, with only some in English. The University of Wrocław provides Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral level programmes. All of the degree certificates awarded by UWr are recognised globally.

Rectors (presidents) of the University since 1945:

Notable students and professors:

See also


  1. Małgorzata Porada (July 27, 2009). "Od jezuickiej Leopoldiny do polskiego Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego (From Jesuit Leopoldina to Polish University of Wrocław)". O nas (About Us) (in Polish). Uniwersytet Wrocławski. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012. T. Kulak, M. Pater, W. Wrzesiński, Historia Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 1702-2002, Wrocław 2002
  2. "Russian Universities Lead 2016 Rankings for EECA Region". 10 June 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  3. "University of Wrocław - University of Wrocław". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  4. Studia nad przeszłością i dniem dzisiejszym Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego Wojciech Wrzesiński Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1989 page 9
  5. Norman Davies Microcosm (ibidem), page 334, 336. Not in Preview.
  6. Norman Davies "Microcosm" page 337
  7. Norman Davies "Microcosm" page 393
  8. Norman Davies "Microcosm" page 394
  9. "Poland University Restores 262 PhD's Stripped by Nazis". The Forward. January 8, 2015.
  10. Iłowiecki, Maciej (1981). Dzieje nauki polskiej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Interpress. p. 241. ISBN 83-223-1876-6.
  11. Spence Richards, Pamela, ed. (2015). A History of Modern Librarianship: Constructing the Heritage of Western Cultures. Libraries Unlimited. p. 30. ISBN 978-1610690997.
  12. Davies, Norman (2005). God's playground: a history of Poland in two volumes. Volume 2 (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 382. ISBN 0-19-925340-4.
  13. Thum, Gregor (2011). Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wroclaw during the Century of Expulsions. Princeton University Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0691152912.
  14. "Polish university to reinstate German Jews' titles stripped by Nazis". 5 January 2015.

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