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50 Years of the University of Bremen: The Bremen Parliament Turns into a Stage

A staged reading on the founding of the University at Bremen State Parliament Building on October 11, 2021

From the time of the very first idea, it took 25 years until Bremen finally became a university town in 1971. To mark the 50th anniversary of the university, “From the Files to the Stage” – the joint project between the University of Bremen and bremer shakespeare company – retraces this path in an unusual way. Actors from the bremer shakespeare company and members of the Bremen Parliament will turn the Chamber into a stage for history and readings from key documents dating back to the university’s long founding period. The opening night is on October 11, 2021, and the event starts at 7 p.m.

The journey towards the official opening of the University of Bremen on October 14, 1971, began early. Not long after the end of the 2nd World War, in 1946, the senator of finances at the time, Wilhelm Nolting-Hauff, brought up the idea of an international university: “As soon as the new Senate, which was appointed after the occupation, met, I expressed the opinion that we should found a university in Bremen, in spite of the great need in all areas and in spite of the difficulties which, at first sight, seem almost insurmountable. […] We can only endeavor to replace the material values we have lost with spiritual values.”

“The New University Is Supposed to Serve as a Vehicle for International Understanding”

“This founding idea was still very much shaped by the war,” says project manager Dr. Eva Schöck-Quinteros from the History Department of the University of Bremen. “The new university is to serve as a vehicle for international understanding and reconciliation and to permanently accommodate a large number of international students, who are also living on campus following the model of international colleges.” This at least is the wording of the law “on the founding of an international university in Bremen” passed by the Bremen Senate in 1948. In the end, the project failed – for the time being – due to a lack of funding and the question of the location. This was because the barracks site in the Bremen district of Grohn, which had been earmarked for this purpose, was not available as expected.

The Theater Project Brings the Long Founding Process to Life

Numerous documents – legal texts, newspaper articles, speech manuscripts, and many more – testify to the exciting journey the university took from 1946 to 1971, along which the idea itself also changed: from an international university in the post-war period to a campus-based university with a traditional range of subjects to a reform university based on the “Bremen Model.”

As part of the “From the Files to the Stage” theater project, you can follow this path right at the political heart of the Hanseatic city – the Bremen State Parliament. In collaboration with the bremer shakespeare company, the University of Bremen will host a staged reading on Monday, October 11, 2021, where actors from the bremer shakespeare company and members of the Bremen Parliament will read the historical sources. Next to President of the Bremen Parliament Frank Imhoff (CDU) and Vice-President Antje Grotheer (SPD), Robert Bücking (Green Party), Klaus-Rainer Rupp (Left Party), and Magnus Buhlert (FPD) will participate. Two days later, there will be a second performance at the Theater am Leibnizplatz at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday October 13, 2021.

At the House of Science, actor Peter Lüchinger read the famous speech of November 11, 1968. On this day, students and Bremen high school students laid a symbolic founding stone for the “Marx & Moritz University” in Blockland.
© Leonhard Kull

Interested parties had the chance to get a first impression last Saturday at the House of Science. Using historical documents and photos, project manager Dr. Eva Schöck-Quinteros and Sigrid Dauks from the University of Bremen Archive distinguished two main phases in the university’s founding: the beginnings in the late 1940s and the “home stretch” in the late 1960s. Actor Peter Lüchinger from the bremer shakespeare company read important texts and speeches, among them the famous speech of November 11, 1968. On this day, students and Bremen high school students laid a symbolic founding stone for the “Marx & Moritz University” in Blockland to lend weight to their ideas about the new university. Since parts of the speech were given in Latin, Peter Lüchinger naturally also provided the German translation.

‘Readings in October:

Monday, October 11, 2021, opening night 7:00 p.m., Haus der Bürgerschaft (Bremen State Parliament building)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 7:30 p.m., Theater am Leibnizplatz

The readings will be in German.

Tickets are available from the bremer shakespeare company:

Tickets Shakesperae Company

About the Project:

“From the Files to the Stage” is a historical theater project at the University of Bremen which is led by Dr. Eva Schöck-Quinteros and the bremer shakespeare company (bsc). The concept: History students research sources from different archives, the bremer shakespeare company works on the texts for the scenic reading, and the actors and actresses give the texts a voice on stage. The latest reading on the founding of the university was developed in close cooperation with Sigrid Dauks from the University of Bremen Archive.

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