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Oppelt - Gründer Bergakademie

A historical summary

On November 21, 1765, the Freiberg Mining Academy was founded. Its establishment can be seen as a measure taken by the Saxon government to boost the economy after the "Age of Augusta" and the Seven Years' War (1756-63) by increasing the use of domestic raw materials, thus overcoming the high national debt at the same time. Characteristic of the education and research at the new institution was, and still is, the close connection between theory and practice. The institution quite soon gained the reputation of a world-leading mining science teaching and research center. Established in 1765, the Bergakademie is today considered the oldest university of mining science in the world. Numerous other mining academies were founded on its model, e.g. in St. Petersburg, Russia (1773), Almadén, Spain (1777) or Mexico (1792). It was and is the home of scientists who influenced the development of mining science and technology worldwide. The two elements germanium and indium were discovered here. Since its foundation, the TU Bergakademie Freiberg attracted students from all over the world, including Alexander von Humboldt as well as the discoverers of other chemical elements, such as Fausto and Juan José d'Elhuyar (tungsten) and Manuel Andrés del Río (vanadium).

In2015, the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg celebrated its 250th anniversary; More on the history of the Bergakademie et al: Science on site. Pictures of the history and present of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. 2nd edition, Freiberg 2007

Foundation in times of need - von Heynitz and von Oppel

Friedrich Anton von Heynitz, Saxon general mining commissioner as well as member of the state economy, manufactory and commerce deputation, submitted together with the Freiberg chief miner Friedrich Wilhelm von Oppel on 15. November 1765, the Prince Regent Xaver, who was staying in Freiberg, proposed to provide a monetary fund financed from state funds for the establishment of a geometric drawing school as well as a metallurgical and chemical school in Freiberg. For Saxony, which was economically devastated as a result of the Seven Years' War, the reforming measure was to raise the educational level of the civil service entrusted with specific tasks. The proposal therefore fitted in well with the reform concept of the Restoration Commission. Only six months later, lectures could begin and the "Berg-Akademie"was born.

Abraham Gottlob Werner - Founder of Geognosy

Order was brought to the world of minerals and rock strata by Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749-1817), the most important scholar of the Bergakademie in its early days. He was appointed as a teacher at the Mining Academy in 1775. Werner is considered the founder of geognosy, the study of the structure and construction of the earth's solid crust, which can be described as the precursor of geology. He created the foundations on which mineralogy and the theory of deposits could develop as independent sciences.

Werner attracted such important personalities as Alexander von Humboldt, Franz Xaver von Baader, Leopold von Buch, Friederich Mohs, and Robert Jameson. Under the influence of his students, a scientific society was founded in England in 1808, the Wernerian Natural History Society,whose members were devoted to a wide range of natural history research, including mineralogy and the study of plants and insects.

Under Werner, the Freiberg Mining Academy developed into an internationally renowned center of mining science with worldwide appeal.

Scientific feats

With August Wilhelm Lampadius (1772-1842), a light went on for the people of Freiberg. The professor was the first on the European continent to mount a gas lantern on his home in Freiberg's Fischergasse and developed the principle of gas lighting to such an extent that it could be used for the first time for an industrial plant. In order to promote practical teaching, Lampadius set up a chemical-metallurgical university laboratory at the Bergakademie in 1796/97.

When a difference kept appearing in the chemical analysis of a mineral, in 1886 Clemens Alexander Winkler (1838-1904) isolated the chemical element germanium, thus confirming the periodic table of elements developed by Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907), who had predicted an element with the properties of germanium in his list with "ekasilicon". Already in 1863 the chemist Hieronymus Theodor Richter (1824-1898) and the physicist Ferdinand Reich (1799-1882) had found the metal indium. It received its somewhat misleading name because of its characteristic indigo spectral line.

Chemical elements were also discovered by former students of the Mining Academy, such as tungsten (1783) by the brothers Juan José (1754-1796) and Fausto d'Elhuyar (1755-1833) and vanadium (1801) by Andrés Manuel del Río (1764-1849).

Deeper Insights - Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis)

The Romantic poet Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801) - his pen name Novalis means "the one who tills new ground" - first used this pseudonym for his literary writings in 1798 from Freiberg. From the end of 1797 to May 1799 he studied in Freiberg. Under the impression of lectures, excursions and shifts underground, works such as "Blüthenstaub" or "Hymnen an die Nacht" (Hymns to the Night) are created here.

He took many impulses from mining to process them in his artistic creations. Profound thoughts about the formation and the interior of the earth are combined with insights into the nature of man, history, society. The 5th chapter of the novel fragment "Heinrich von Ofterdingen" gives an incomparable and unsurpassed picture of mining itself, indeed of the myth of mining.

Although not as students of the Mining Academy, but also for study purposes, were also the poet and scientist Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov in Freiberg, the Russian Tsar Peter I., Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

The Karzer - living history

One of the more curious facts of the history of the Freiberg Mining Academy is the Karzer, which was in operation from 1851-1872 and can still be visited today. Initially, students served time here, for example, for failing to hand in books or slips, and later for more serious offenses such as insulting teachers or fellow students or arguments with Freiberg night watchmen. The longest punishment recorded in the Karzer book lasted 14 days. In the approximately 20 years of its existence, however, only 48 students were punished with Karzer.

Between 1945 and 1990

For the development of the basic industry in the period after World War II from 1945, teaching and research operations were quickly resumed at the Freiberg Mining Academy. The university experienced a significant expansion of its spatial capacities. This was accompanied by an increase in the number of staff as well as the expansion of capacities in research and teaching. The range of courses on offer changed with the establishment of new degree programs. At the same time, the composition of the student body changed. The proportion of women rose sharply. The opening of the Bergakademie to "workers' and farmers' children" took place through a socially determined allocation of study places and through the establishment of the Vorstudienanstalt, from 1949 called Arbeiter- und Bauernfakultät (ABF) (Workers' and Farmers' Faculty).

On the Threshold of the 21st Century

After the integration of the Bergakademie Freiberg into the West German higher education system, it succeeded in quickly positioning itself in the all-German higher education landscape on the basis of its unique research and teaching profile. The Bergakademie Freiberg was the first East German university to become a member of the German Research Foundation (DFG). From 1993, it was able to appear under the designation "Technical University".

After 1990, the teaching staffs were newly formed at all Saxon universities. All professors lost their jobs, so to speak, and new chairs were created and advertised. As a result, the professorships were filled 50% by old chair holders, 25% by former lecturers and senior assistants, and 25% by other specialists coming from Germany or abroad. After the economic and social science sections were wound up, a new economics faculty with 15 professorships was established in the 1990s due to the importance of economics in the educational profile of the Bergakademie.

In the early 1990s, student numbers dropped sharply. By 1993, there were fewer than 2,000 students. However, extensive student recruitment, the special range of courses offered at Freiberg with new, contemporary courses such as geoecology, environmental engineering and applied natural science, and good job prospects for most courses led to a rapid recovery in student numbers.

The current research and study profile of TU Bergakademie Freiberg is characterized by the scientific fields of geo, materials/materials, energy, environment and economics. The university is a leader in the acquisition of third-party funding and occupies a top position in terms of third-party funding per professor in an all-German comparison.