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Special exhibition

The Technische Hochschule München under National Socialism


The new special exhibition of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism is dedicated to the history of MunichTechnical University during the Nazi era. The exhibition will run from 18 May to 26 August 2018.

To pursue its totalitarian goals, the Nazi state required not only military and industrial resources but also scientific research. In the Third Reich, scientific and technological disciplines and the technical universities were therefore an essential component and an important pillar of the Nazi regime. In the course of the war the various sections of the Wehrmacht set up and financed major research complexes as well as institutes and research facilities. The universities received numerous ‘war contracts’ and were transformed into ‘war operations’. Munich Technical University (at the time Technische Hochschule, today Technische Uni­ver­sität) must therefore be viewed in this context. Of the ten technical universities in the German Reich, Munich was second after Berlin in terms of student numbers. As such, it was heavily involved in research contracts for the Wehrmacht and in 1943 it was named a ‘model war operation’.

Opening event for the exhibition ‘Grenzland in Not’ (Borderland in Need) in the big physics lecture hall at Munich’s Technical University on 22 June 1933 | © Stadtarchiv München, DE-1992-FS-NS-0036

The exhibition has been realised jointly with Munich Technical University (TUM). Using a wealth of previously unknown image and archive material, it documents the personnel, ideological and institutional changes and the instrumentalisation of the university for the purpose of preparing for and waging war. The ouster of seventeen Jewish and politically undesirable university lecturers and the removal of (their) doctoral titles is one theme of the exhibition. Another is how some professors accommodated themselves to the Nazi regime and mobilised themselves. The central focus is the ideologisation and militarisation of the entire university and the fate of teaching and research in the individual faculties. The exhibition concludes by looking at the phase of de-Nazification and the university’s approach to its Nazi past after 1945.  

The Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, Max-Mannheimer-Platz 1, is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm (opening hours can be extended for schools and groups by arrangement). Entrance is free of charge for persons under the age of 18. Adults pay 5 EUR (concessions 2.50 EUR).

Willy Messerschmitt (2nd from left) with Adolf Hitler visiting the Messerschmitt factory in Haunstetten, near Augsburg, 22 November 1937 | © Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Bildarchiv, hoff-69667


The exhibition catalogue, published by TUM.University Press, reproduces all the material from the exhibition with an introduction by Winfried Nerdinger, essays by the historians Rüdiger Hachtmann and Helmut Maier and other documents and texts on the subject.

Die Technische Hochschule München im Nationalsozialismus, edited by Wolfgang A. Hermann and Winfried Nerdinger, with assistance from Andreas Eichmüller, TUM.University Press: Munich 2018, Museum edition, soft cover, 28 EUR, ISBN 978-3-95884-009-6 | Publisher’s edition, hard cover, 34 EUR, ISBN 978-3-95884-008-9.

Programme of Events

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events. At the opening on Thursday, 17 May, at 7 pm, the historian Ulrich Herbert spoke on the subject of ‘Science and Universities in the Nazi Era’ (in German). Every Tuesday (except public holidays) the Documentation Centre will offer open tours of the special exhibition. You can register for a tour by sending an e-mail to or by calling 089/233-67015. Meeting point: Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, Max-Mannheimer-Platz 1, foyer.

On Wednesday, 6 June 2018, at 7 pm, the historian Rüdiger Hachtmann will give a lecture on ‘The Science Policy of the Nazi State with a Special Focus on Technical Universities’ (in German). In addition, the education and communication department of the Documentation Centre will offer a workshop (in German) for adults and students on 7 June 2018, from 3 to 6 pm, devoted to the role of the Technical University under the Nazi regime. You can register for this workshop by sending an e-mail to or calling 089/233-67007.

See also