21.06.1968

Foundations laid with some resistance

On June 21, 1968, the foundation stone is laid for the Aufbau-und Verfügungszentrum, (Development and Provisions Centre) which will serve as an alternative accommodation until the completion of the planned university main building, enabling the start of research and teaching in the winter semester of 1969/70. In the midst of this event, students of the Bielefeld School of Engineering and Economics stage large protests against the education policy of the state government.

  • Speech by NRW Minister President, Heinz Kühn, at the laying of the foundation stone at the Aufbauzentrum.

    Photo: Günter Rudolf
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00153
  • Speech by Rudolf August Oetker at the laying of the foundation stone at the University of Education.

    Photo: Günter Rudolf
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00176a
  • Students protest against the education policy of the state government with sheep. In the middle of the picture (with pocket handkerchief) NRW Minister of Culture, Fritz Holthoff, the target of the protests.

    Photo: Günter Rudolf
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00178
  • The police are breaking up the sit-in against the education policy of the state government.

    Photo: Günter Rudolf
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00186a
  • NRW Minister President, Heinz Kühn, speaking in front of the Rudolf-Oetker-Halle.

    Photo: Günter Rudolf
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00191

The actual laying of the foundation stone for Bielefeld University, more precisely for the Aufbauzentrum in Kurt-Schumacher-Straße, was preceded by a ceremony at the University of Education. At this ceremony, NRW Minister President Heinz Kühn, Rudolf August Oetker and the Mayor of Bielefeld Herbert Hinnendahl, among others, addressed many guests of honour from politics, business and science.

Silent footage of the laying of the foundation stone of the Aufbauzentrum by NRW Minister President Heinz Kühn on 21 June 1968.

Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FS 93

Sheep without will?

Although there were no students enrolled yet at Bielefeld University, student protests took place on the sidelines of the ceremony to lay the foundation stone. About 1000 students of the Bielefeld School of Engineering and Economics sought to draw attention to their concerns with a sit-in protest and a blockade of the transfer bus, which was to bring the dignitaries to Kurt-Schumacher-Straße. They fought to anchor their institutions in higher education. Special criticism was directed at the NRW state government and especially at the Minister of Education, Fritz Holthoff, for the new German Higher Education Framework Act: the students believed the policy would turn them into a sheep in the system, with no agency of their own. In a creative turn, protesters brought along sheep to underline their cause.

After the blockade was lifted by the police, the actual laying of the foundation stone took place without any further incident. But while the celebration was to continue in the Rudolf-Oetker-Halle, another crowd of protesting students had formed outside its entrance. Minister President Kühn tried to reassure the demonstrators by making a speech with a megaphone. Thus, student protests accompanied the “groundbreaking ceremony” of Bielefeld University.

  • Basic structure of the Aufbauzentrum in 1969

    Photo: Ed. Heidmann
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 01563
  • View of the Aufbauzentrum, around 1970.

    Photo: Bernhard Preker
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00281
  • Aerial view of the Aufbauzentrum, around 1970. On the left the Kurt-Schumacher-Straße.

    Fotograf: Günter Rudolf
    Quelle: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00272

The Aufbauzentrum was finally completed in the summer of 1969, so that the University’s teaching activities could start as planned in the winter semester of 1969/70. The official handover of the keys for the centre followed on 1 December 1969 – a few weeks after the building went into operation.