Polish University Restores Degrees Annulled by Nazis

January 22, 2015  

A Polish university on Thursday restored doctorate degrees to 262 people, most of them Jewish, decades after genocidal Nazi Germany annulled them in the run-up to World War II.

Descendants of the wronged men and women – many of them doctors and scientists who went on to have brilliant academic careers in Britain, France and the United States – attended a ceremony in the western Polish city of Wroclaw in their honor.

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” University of Wroclaw spokesman Jacek Przygodzki said earlier this month, explaining that border changes have made official restitution impossible.

The individuals received their degrees from a university that no longer exists: it was located in the former German city of Breslau, which became Poland’s Wroclaw when the war ended in 1945.

Germany’s University of Cologne took charge of Breslau’s students and teachers after the war.

The two universities – of Cologne and Wroclaw – prepared a joint statement denouncing the Nazis’ decision to void the degrees held by individuals opposed to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s regime in the 1930s.

It was read out at the ceremony Thursday, which was also attended by local officials and the university presidents.

AFP contributed to this report.

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