» About the Department's History


Author: Prof. Dr. Nicole C. Karafyllis

Note: As the Technische Universität Braunschweig is engaged in critically reflecting on its role during the Nazi times, I decided to gather some facts we got to know about the philosophers employed at that time, and to make it transparent to the academic public, particularly to the present student generation. There is still more research to be done. I hope that other philosophy departments in Germany will follow.

However, the history of this department is much longer than the years 1933-1945 - and the fruitful outcomes should not be disguised. For example, it is worth emphasizing that the philosophy department at TU Braunschweig was, in 1965, one of the first in Germany to employ a female Chair: Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Ströker (see below). With her name ends this historical online journey of the department in the 1970s, as most of the information on her younger followers as professors is available on the internet in both German and English.

In 2015, two major publications on the Department's history were published, also commemorating its 90th anniversary of its existence.

  • Nicole C. Karafyllis: Willy Moog (1888-1935): Ein Philosophenleben. Freiburg: Karl Alber (722 pp., publ. 22. Jan. 2015). A biography of Moog's turbulent life and and work, incl. list of his publications and lectures. This is the first book analyzing the reasons and causes for his suicide in 1935, thereby giving insights on the Nazi repressions.
  • Uwe Lammers: Sieben Leben. Wissenschaftlerbiographien an der kulturwissenschaftlichen Abteilung der Technischen Hochschule Braunschweig im Nationalsozialismus. Published 23. Jan. 2015, URL http://www.digibib.tu-bs.de/?docid=00058531 der Digitalen Bibliothek Braunschweig. Incl. biography chapters on the Braunschweig philosophers Karl Gronau and Willy Moog.

More works relevant for the university philosophy's history, particularly at the long forgotten "Institutes of Technology" (in German: Technische Hochschulen) follow in 2016:

Nicole C. Karafyllis: "Ein Braunschweiger kehrt zurück: Der Philosophieprofessor Willy Moog (1888-1935)", in: Braunschweig. Wiss. Gesellschaft (BWG) (Hg.): Jahrbuch 2015. Braunschweig: Cramer 2016 (im Druck) sowie

Nicole C. Karafyllis: Die Philosophen Herman Schmalenbach (1885-1950) und Willy Moog (1888-1935) und ihr Wirken an den Technischen Hochschulen in Hannover und Braunschweig. Mit einem Seitenblick auf Schmalenbachs Leibniz (1921). Hannover: Wehrhahn 2016 (im Druck). Hefte der Leibniz-Stiftungsprofessur.

» The history of the department

» Prof. Dr. Wilhelm (Willy) Moog (1888-1935) 

The philosopher and educational scientist Wilhelm (Willy) Moog (PhD Dr. phil. 1909 Giessen) taught since 1919 (Habilitation) at the Universität Greifswald (since 1922 as Professor). At the end of the year 1924 he became "ordentlicher Professor" (rank Full Professor) for Philosophy, Pedagogics und Psychology at the Technische Hochschule Braunschweig. The employment of Moog demarcates the foundation of the Department of Philosophy at the (formerly named) Technische Hochschule Braunschweig.

1927-1930 Moog was Dean of the related Faculty of Cultural Studies ("Kulturwissenschaften") at the Technische Hochschule. In these times, the Cultural Studies in Germany were bound to teach "Weltanschauung" ('world views'), which meant incorporating the Nazi ideology. Another aim was to teach the engineers fundamentals of epistemology. But Willy Moog resisted the Nazi ideology: for example, he still gave exam topics on Spinoza (a jewish philosopher) and the "father of liberalism" John Locke in 1934/1935. Both was prohibited according to the curriculum valid since April 1933.

Soon after his employment, he started to establish the exquisite library of the department, beginning with 4000 books. The first entry in the inventory list is dated 25 May 1925 and lists the works of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Simmel.

Moog, who at the beginning of his career had been a high school teacher for ancient Greek and Latin (in Darmstadt) and had published e.g. on Homer, excelled in Braunschweig in systematic philosophy and history of philosophy. Among his major works are Kants Ansichten zu Krieg und Frieden (Kant's Views on War and Peace), published during WW I (1917), Hegel und die Hegelsche Schule (1930) and Geschichte der Pädagogik vom 18. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart (2 vol.s, 1928 and 1933). The connection of philosophy and pedagogics, and the education for peace were major goals in his academic life. The pacifist Moog committed suicide in Braunschweig on 24 October 1935. As Karafyllis explored in her biography on Willy Moog (2015), he could not stand the repressions of the Nazi-Regime inside and outside the university which affected also his private life. On the day of his death and after 11 years of duty to the university he was dismissed for having an illegitimate child.

August Christian Riekel (1897-1967), Moog's scholar and a convinced member of the social democratic party (SPD), finished his Habilitation 1923 at TH Braunschweig. Since 1924, he was Assistant Professor (Privatdozent). Riekel faced "Zwangsemeritierung" in 1932, i.e. he was released from his academic duties by force - like many other philosophers in Germany (e.g., most prominent, Edmund Husserl at Freiburg University). In 1933, he was officially laid off.

Before, 1928-1931, he had become Professor for Pedagogics at the TH; the offices and lecture halls were located in the Villa Salva Hospes (today the Art Foundation Braunschweig /Braunschweiger Kunstverein). After his release from duties, he spent the next 20 years of his life (1933-1953) as writer for novels and stage plays (under pseudonymes) in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. In 1953, he returend to Germany. In 1956, he received the "Wiedergutmachungsbescheid" (official document of apology) and got the title of a retired professor.


» Prof. Dr. Karl Gronau (1889-1950) 

Karl Gronau, born in Braunschweig, was employed as 'außerordentlicher Professor' for Philosophy in 1926. Gronau did his habilitation in philosophy at TH Braunschweig in 1922, with a work on philosophy of religion. Before, he had studied at Göttingen University and did his majors in Philosophy and Theology. His research area covered metaphysics, philosophy of religion and political philosophy (particularly neoplatonism).

His main job was being Principal at the Wilhelm Gymnasium in Braunschweig (1924-1950), i.e. he taught part time at the University's philosophy department. His educational ideal was driven by eugenic thinking, based on racist-biological grounds. In 1933, Gronau had become member of the NSDAP, but was expelled in 1938 as it came out that he had been member of a "Freimaurerloge" (freemason loge) in the 1920s.

In 1945, the British Military Government gave him a leading position at the Ministry for Higher Education. Since 1946, Gronau was part and object of several denacification processes which had no clear outcome in the sense of him being officially guilty. In 1949, he retained all his rights, but retired one year later.

From 1934 to 1940 Friedrich Berger (1901-1974), a philosophy scholar from Tübingen University (Dr. phil. habil.) was employed as professor for "Theoretical Pedagogics" at TH Braunschweig. Berger was a fanatic follower of the Nazi-ideology and as Sturmbannschulungsleiter member of the SS, since 1937 member of the NSDAP. After Moog's death, he managed to downgrade Moog's professorship and finally to close down the Faculty of Cultural Studies in Fall 1937. Berger himself became Director of the newly founded Bernhard-Rust-Hochschule for nationalsocialist pedagogics in Braunschweig which was operating between 1938 and 1942/43. Its former building on the university campus became the "Kant-Hochschule" or Pädagogische Hochschule after WWII and today functions as "House of Science".

Sources: Klaus-Peter Horn: Erziehungswissenschaft in Deutschland im 20. Jahrhundert, 2003, p. 190 (on Friedrich Berger), p. 299 (on Willy Moog) and p. 316 (on August Riekel); Karafyllis, Willy Moog, 2015 (chapter 2.7 on Berger); on the history of philosophy at TH Braunschweig during the Weimar Republick and the 'Third Reich', see Christian Tilitzki: Die deutsche Universitätsphilosophie in der Weimarer Republik und im Dritten Reich, Vol. 1, Berlin 2002, pp. 205-208.



» Prof. Dr. Friedrich Kaulbach (1912-1992) 

After WW II, the Kant-expert Dr. Friedrich Kaulbach (1912-1992) from Erlangen University was lecturer in Braunschweig for 14 years. Most likely Kaulbach was the first to start lecturing philosophy again, starting at the "Kant-Hochschule" in 1946 and later at the TH Braunschweig. In the beginning, and in the light of the experiences during the Nazi times, Kaulbach primarily taught ethics, though this was not his area of specialization. Kaulbach was a specialist in Kant's philosophy of science, phenomenology, and theory of symbols.

1952 Habilitation at TH Braunschweig: Philosophische Grundlegung zu einer wissenschaftlichen Symbolik (publ. 1954). He was close friends with Hermann Glockner (s. below), who also was a native Franconian and since 1951 Department Chair. In 1959, Kaulbach changed to the University of Münster, being a Full Professor there from 1969-1980. In Münster, he was teacher of, e.g., the Kant-expert Prof. Dr. phil. Volker Gerhardt (born 1944, today Humboldt University Berlin) who edited a book of remembrance for Kaulbach after his death (originally planned to serve as Festschrift and birthday present for Kaulbach's 80th birthday in 1992).


Prof. Dr. Hermann Glockner (1896-1979) 

The renown Hegel-expert Hermann Glockner, a native Franconian, taught philosophy as Full Professor in Braunschweig from 1951-1964 and chaired the department. With his appointment, the department was officially reopened after WW II. Glockner's academic activities during the Nazi time, when he chaired and 'purified' the left-wing oriented philosophy department of Giessen University, lead to a period of six years (1945-1961) in which Glockner was not allowed to lecture (by the American Military Government of Hessen).

Glockner wrote his dissertation under the supervision of Paul Hensel in Erlangen (1919), and his habilitation under the supervision of Heinrich Rickert and Karl Jaspers in Heidelberg (1924). Today, he is particularly known for his Hegel-Edition (24 Volumes): Hegel-Jubiläumsausgabe in 24 Bänden ("Edition Glockner", 1927-1940). Another major work of Glockner is: Die europäische Philosophie von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Reclam, Stuttgart 1958. Glockner died in Braunschweig in 1979 and is buried on a little island on the lake Chiemsee in Bavaria.


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Elisabeth Ströker (1928-2000) 

Elisabeth Ströker (PhD Dr. phil. Bonn 1955, Habilitation Hamburg 1963), a scholar of Eugen Fink in Freiburg, chaired the department after H. Glockner from 1965 to 1971. The phenomenologist and philosopher of science was one of the first women philosophers in Germany to become department chair. Among her areas of specialization were the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, the theory of chemistry, and theories of space.

With the international reception of her works (translation into several languages) the department became more and more known to the global academia. In 1971, Ströker left Braunschweig for a position at the Universität zu Köln (Cologne), where she was director of the Husserl-Archive until she retired in 1993.

Among her major works are: Philosophische Untersuchungen zum Raum (1965, 2. ed. 1977, English 1987), Denkwege der Chemie (1967), Einführung in die Wissenschaftstheorie (1973, 4.th ed. 1992; Japanese 1978, 2nd. ed. 1980; Turkish 1990), Phänomenologische Studien (1987), The Husserlian Foundations of Science (1987), Husserls transzendentale Phänomenologie (1987, English 1993).

1968 the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences was founded, and the Technische Hochschule Braunschweig was renamed in: Technische Universität Braunschweig .

  last changed 17.10.2015
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