Although a long-standing relationship exists between Schleswig-Holstein and the Scandinavian countries, after the Second World War it was not easy to forge a path towards good academic cooperation across borders: initial contacts were made by students from 1947 onwards and increasingly in the 1950s. “Young people travelled to Sweden for sports competitions and guest appearances at theatres. Although there were great discussions in the Swedish press at the time about whether or not people should watch the production by the Kiel student theatre group, people longed for normality – and that included art and sport,” explained Weber. The first personal contacts were established through visits and return visits – independently of the faculties. The exchange became institutional in the 1950s: because it was not possible to study dentistry in Norway, young people came to Kiel. “And they came in such great numbers that some people joked that they wondered why the seminars were not conducted in Norwegian,” Weber discovered.
By 1965, Kiel University’s 300th anniversary, the university had fully rehabilitated itself in the international scientific community. “This was also demonstrated by the large number of foreign contacts,” said Weber. The link to the north became very clear at the anniversary celebrations: the University Board granted Scandinavia honorary citizenship of the university and established a permanent Danish guest professorship across all disciplines – this position still exists today as the Scandinavian Guest Professorship. Other departments such as the Zentrum für Nordische Studien (Centre for Northern Studies), the student hall of residence Deutsch-Nordische Burse and other projects followed. “Not everything still exists today, not all ideas were implemented,” said Weber. Yet there is a clear raising of Kiel University's profile.
Author: Jennifer Ruske
Further reading: Caroline Elisabeth Weber: Allen Ländern Skandinaviens und des Ostseeraums besonders verbunden (Closely connected to the countries of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea region). Kieler Schriften zur Regionalgeschichte vol. 7. Wachholtz Verlag Kiel 2021.