German University Name Pays Homage to Inspiration for Nazis

The initiative Uni ohne Arndt, furthermore, cites Arndt from 1814 as follows:

One should simply prohibit and prevent the introduction of foreign Jews in Germany. ... Jews as Jews do not belong in this world and in these states, and that is why I do not want their numbers to be increased in an undue fashion in Germany.

I also do not want this, however, because they are a thoroughly alien people [fremdes Volk] and because I want as much as possible to preserve the purity of the German stock and to keep it free from alien elements.

In the same year, 1814, Arndt published his poem “Of the German Fatherland.” With its continuous refrain “No! No! No! My fatherland must be bigger!” -- “O Nein! Nein! Nein! Mein Vaterland muß größer sein” -- it would, needless to say, become a favorite of generations of great German nationalists laying claim to far-flung territories all across central Europe.

The decision of the University of Greifswald to retain the name of Arndt gives particular cause to pause in light of the fact that the university was first so christened in 1933, shortly after the National Socialist party came to power in Germany. The name change was authorized by none other than the Prussian prime minister, one Hermann Göring. As documented by the initiative Uni ohne Arndt, both the town of Greifswald and the university were Nazi strongholds even before 1933.

The website of the initiative quotes the speech given in June 1933 by university rector Heinrich Laag on the occasion of the ceremonial rechristening of the university:

Only if we think [like Ernst Moritz Arndt] will we also act as the Führer of our nation [Volk] intends. ... What Ernst Moritz Arndt desired is in large part being fulfilled today. In no small measure, the present lives from his spirit.

It should be noted that in opting to retain Arndt’s name, the academic senate merely upheld the results of a January vote of the University of Greifswald student body. According to results published by the initiative Uni ohne Arndt, 23% of the university’s some 12,000 students took part in the vote, of which 50% voted to retain Arndt’s name and 43% to have it removed.