In the 1930s, the university became a focal point for the Nazi crackdown on "Jewish physics", as represented by the work of Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr (both Jewish). In what was later called the "great purge" of 1933, academics including Max Born, Victor Goldschmidt, James Franck, Eugene Wigner, Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, Emmy Noether, and Richard Courant were expelled or fled. The legacy of greatness in mathematics, a lineage which had included Carl Friedrich Gauss and Bernhard Riemann, was broken.
Though David Hilbert remained, by the time he died in 1943, the Nazis had essentially gutted the university, as many of the top faculty were either Jewish or had married Jews. About a year after the purge, he attended a banquet, and was seated next to the new Minister of Education, Bernhard Rust. Rust asked, "How is mathematics in Göttingen now that it has been freed of the Jewish influence?" Hilbert replied, "Mathematics in Göttingen? There is really none any more" (Reid, 205). Today, Göttingen is one of the most comprehensive universities in Germany, with a respectable, but no longer world-famous, mathematics department.
The "great purge" of 1933
Today the university consists of 13 faculties. About 24,000 students are currently enrolled. More than 2,500 professors and other academics presently work at the University, assisted by a technical and administrative staff of about 8,000. The post-war expansion of the University led to the establishment of a new, modern 'university quarter' in the north of the town. The architecture of the old university can still be seen in the Auditorium Maximum (1826/1865) and the Great Hall (1835/1837) on the Wilhelmsplatz.
Closely linked with the university are the Göttingen State and University Library with its 3.9 million volumes and precious manuscripts, the Academy of Sciences, originally founded as the 'Royal Society for Sciences', and the four research institutes of the Max Planck Society for the Promotion of Science.
The international reputation of the university is the result of many eminent professors who are commemorated by statues and memorial plaques throughout the town. For example, in the 19th century, Carl Friedrich Gauss and the brothers Grimm taught there. More recently, forty-two Nobel Prize laureates studied or taught in Göttingen and many students attained a place in history – for example Otto von Bismarck, who studied in Göttingen in 1833 and lived in a tiny house on the "Wall" (according to oral tradition, he lived there because his rowdiness had caused him to be banned from living within the city walls), now known as "Bismarck Cottage", and the American J. P. Morgan.
The university is not centralized, but rather spread out in several locations around the city: The central university complex with the main library and Mensa (dining hall) is located right next to the inner city and comprises the faculties for Law, Economics/Business Administration, Theology. and Linguistics. The departments of Ancient History, Classics, various languages, and Psychology are nearby. Elsewhere in the city are the departments of Anthropology, Mathematics and Educational Sciences as well as the Medical Faculty with its associated hospitals. Just north of the city a new scientific center has been built in which most of the natural sciences (Chemistry, Microbiology, Plant Pathology, Agronomy, Forestry, Geology, Physics and, starting in the year 2010, Mathematics) are now located, including the GZMB. Other institutes are set around the inner city.
The University offers eight snack shops and six Mensas serving lunch at low prices for the students. One Mensa also provides dinner.
Famous alumni and faculty
Hilbert, Constance Reid, Springer, April 1996, ISBN 0387946748. (biography)