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July 11, 2022 4:12 pm

German University Weighs Removing Name of Antisemitic Founder

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Sculpture of Eberhard in Stuttgart’s Altes Schloss. Photo: Nightflyer / Wikimedia Commons.

Trustees at Germany’s University of Tübingen will vote this month on whether to rename the institution, which is formally known as Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen, following student complaints about commemorating its founder and one of his descendants, the UK’s Times reported on Monday.

After founding the University of Tübingen in 1477, Eberhard I, Duke of Württemberg — known as “Eberhard the Bearded” — placed a moratorium on issuing letters of protection that allowed Jews in the state to live and work there. Its charter, according to Prof. Horst Junginger’s 2017 work, “The Scientification of the ‘Jewish Question’ in Nazi Germany,” explained that the bigoted measure was for the “protection of students from Jewish usurers.” In his will, Eberhard said it was his last wish that no Jews be allowed to “settle in our dominion.”

Eberhard, the Times report said, also possessed an antisemitic pamphlet about Jews who were burned at the stake in Trento, Italy, over a blood libel incident in which local Jews were coerced under torture into accepting responsibility for the death of two-year-old Simon of Trent.

The school’s name also honors Eberhard’s descendant, Duke Karl Eugen von Württemberg. Eugen, who assumed power of Württemberg at age nine following his father’s death, was not known as an antisemite — in 1744, for example, he ordered that the gibbeted corpse of a Jewish financial advisor, Joseph Süss Oppenheimer, receive a proper burial — but is remembered as a despotic ruler who sold teenage soldiers to allies and used public funds to build ostentatious palaces.

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Students at Tübingen, according to the Times, have called for dissociating the university from Eberhard and Eugen since the 1970s.

A recent study of Eberhard by a panel of Tübingen scholars determined that he was “influenced by the widespread antisemitic currents of his age” but declined to issue an opinion on the upcoming vote, which has been criticized by the mayor of the southwest German city.

Other German universities have been renamed, the outlet noted, including University of Greifswald, which the Nazis named after antisemitic theologian Ernst Moritz Arndt at the suggestion of Nazi leader Hermann Göring.

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