Economics in Germany
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The first German universities were erected in the 14th C. Prague (1348), Vienna (1365) and Heidelberg (1386) were established by princes, while Cologne (1388), Erfurt (1392), Rostock (1419) and Greifswald (1456) were established by city authorities. Leipzig (1409) was created by students exiled from Prague during the Hussite troubles. In the 15th Century, Freiburg (1457), Basel (1460) and Trier (1472) were established at the instigation of the Pope and Church authorities. Traditionally, the establishment of a university (Studium generale) required a papal or imperial bull. But in 1495, Emperor Maximilian passed decree allowing German electors to set up universities themselves. By the turn of the century, the major landed princes sponsored the formation of universities for students from their duchies: Ingolstadt (Bavaria), Tübingen (Württemberg), Frankfurt-am-Oder (Brandenburg) and Wittenberg (Saxony).
During the Middle Ages, German schools were relative backwaters of Medieval Scholasticism. Although Cologne managed to acquire some early repute, many remained poor cousins to the great Scholastic centers of Paris, Bologna and Oxford, or even the next tier schools of Italy and France. German scholars were accustomed to go abroad to to study and teach, and they continued to do so in great numbers. German student "nations" abounded in the formation of the Medieval universities in Italy and France. It is consequently unsurprising that there were no universities in Germany in the first couple of centuries of the Scholastic era, and that the first German universities had to be erected by the vanity of princes, with a student catchment drawn mainly from the east. Things only really began to change during the "Great Schism" between Rome and Avignon in the late 14th Century. Holy Roman Emperors, popes and bishops tried to dissuade German students from going abroad to the Avignon-backing Kingdom of France, finally allowing universities in Germany to gain some traction.
The Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century rocked the German universities. The spearhead of the reformation was the University of Wittenberg, which counted the pioneering Protestant theologians Martin Luther, Andreas Boderstein "Carlstadt", and Philip Melancthon among its faculty. The universities of Erfurt and Ingolstadt, home base of Johannes Eck, led the Catholic counter-reformation. As the existing faculties in traditional universities purged Protestant sympathizers from their ranks and students, there was the need for the creation of new universities to collect them. So Protestant princes set about doing so - Protestant universities were established at Marburg (1527), Köningsberg (1544), and Jena (1558), while the Nuremberg city authorities established one at Altdorf (1578). Entering the fray was the Reformed (Calvinist) wave emanating from Switzerland, and for a time, the Calvinists had quite some success establishing themselves in existing universities - famously taking Heidelberg, Frankfurt-am-Oder and newly-created Marburg (which forced the creation of Giessen for exiled Lutheran students).
The counter-reformers were not far behind. The Jesuits led the way in the late 16th C., and took control of old Catholic schools such as Vienna, Cologne, Mainz, Trier, Ingolstadt, Freiburg and (temporarily) Heidelberg and Prague. They also assisted German Catholic bishops in in setting up new Catholic universities at Dillingen (1554), Würzburg (1582), Graz (1585), Paderborn (1615), Osnabrück (1630), Bamberg (1648), Innsbruck (1669), Breslau (1702), Fulda (1734) (however, many of these were little more than glorified Jesuit gymnasiums). The Jesuit hold on the Catholic German universities was broken in 1773, when the Jesuits were expelled from the Holy Roman Empire by order of Emperor Joseph II.
The religious struggles inside the universities were gradually settled. Matriculation was opened up and non-sectarian, and religious affiliations gradually lost significance. Except for the theology faculties, which (with a few exceptions) remained exclusively dedicated to one denomination.
The sectarian competition in the 16th Century had led to the creation of many new universities, and the pace of creation did not abate in the 17th Century. German princes were lured to establish their own universities, partly as prestige projects for their principalities, leading to an oversupply of universities, to the point where many had insufficient students to maintain them. On the eve of 1789, there were over forty German universities. The reorganization of German principalities and states during the Napoleonic era was accompanied by the closure and merger of many old universities, so that by the 1820s, only about half remained. Storied old universities like Cologne, Erfurt, Trier, Mainz, Dillingen and Altdorf were shut down and disappeared forever. Frankfurt-am-Oder was absorbed by Breslau (1811), Wittenberg was merged with Halle (1817), Ingolstadt moved to Munich (1826) and Münster to Bonn (1818). The University of Berlin (f.1809) was the only new university founded from scratch since the mid-18th C.
Around the time of German unification in 1871, just as the German Historical School was beginning to spread its wings, there were fifteen full universities in Germany. Nine of these were in Prussia - six in old Prussia (Berlin, Bonn, Breslau, Greifswald, Halle and Köningsberg) plus three annexed into Prussia by the wars of 1864-66 (Göttingen, Kiel, Marburg), three were in Bavaria (Erlangen, Munich, Würzburg), two in Baden (Freiburg, Heidelberg) and one each in Saxony (Leipzig), Württemberg (Tübingen), Hessen (Giessen), Mecklenberg (Rostock), Saxe-Weimar (Jena) and (after 1871) Alsace-Lorraine (Strasbourg). To these fifteen should be added the five German-language universities in Austria-Hungary (Czernowitz, Graz, Innsbruck, Prague, Vienna), the three in Switzerland (Bern, Basel, Zurich) and one in Russia (Dorpat). [Map of Germany]
Of the fifteen universities of the 1871 German Empire, only three (Munich, Würzburg, Freiburg) were Catholic, most of the rest were Protestant. The exceptions were Bonn, Breslau and Tübingen, which were ecumenical (had both Catholic and Protestant theological faculties).
As a rule, complete German universities were organized into four separate faculties:
theological faculty, a juridical faculty, a medical faculty and a philosophical
faculty. The "philosophical faculty" (the German equivalent of
"Arts & Sciences") encompassed everything not captured
by the other three, so it included philosophy, mathematics, philology, history
and cameralistics. The exceptions to the "four faculty rule" were:
Each faculty had its dean and operated near-independently. The university as a whole was overseen by a Senate, presided by a Rector, the ultimate arbiter of the university's fate. The Senate usually consisted of the current Rector, the previous Rector, the four faculty deans and five faculty members. The deans, senate and rector were elected yearly by the entire body of professors ordinary.
Lectures were given by professors ordinary, extraordinary and private (privat-docent), all of whom had to have a higher doctoral degree (habilitation). Matriculation was open to any native who presented a graduation diploma from a gymnasium, and to any foreigner with a certificate of good moral character. A normal course ran three years (four for medicine).
There were other schools of higher learning in Germany, which did not count as universities. Among these were the ten "polytechnic high schools", of which there were two in Berlin, the others in Hanover, Aachen, Munich, Dresden, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Darmstadt. There were also the military academies, among which we can count two academies for the general staff army (Berlin and Munich), a naval academy (Kiel), two artillery/engineering academies (Berlin and Munich) and five "war schools" (Potsdam, Erfurt, Neisse, Engers, Cassel).
In their early history, most German universities followed conventional Medieval models, with a lower Faculty of Arts (called "Faculty of Philosophy" in Germany) and three higher faculties (Theology, Medicine, Law). Each faculty constituted a guild of teachers, and to acquire membership in a faculty, a candidate must submit himself to an examination, usually a Latin disputation, by existing masters in order to obtain his membership certificate ("degree"). Following the Italian tradition, German faculties used the term "doctor" rather than "master" (common in France and England). Thus the Anglo-French "Master of Arts" translated equivalently to "Doctor of Philosophy" in Germany (Dr. phil, from whence Ph.D.) Masters of the other faculties were called doctors of theology (Dr. theol.), medicine (Dr. med, or M.D.) and law (Dr. juris, or J.D.). Lower degrees, like licentiates (baccalaureus), were not granted by the faculties, but rather by the university as a qualified certificate to teach (with limitations).
Starting already in the 1700s, and accelerating in the 1800s, the Prussian university authorities began substituting the disputation and examination of doctoral candidates, which had become nearly an empty routine ritual, with the defense of a written thesis demonstrating original research. Successful defense of the dissertation before the faculty was required to receive doctorate degree. The practice was soon adopted throughout German universities. As such, German universities were the first to impose earned degrees from research. The Faculty of Philosophy, by this time, had already moved beyond the traditional "seven liberal arts" to include a wide range of humanities, sciences and social sciences.
At the same time, the requirements for a Ph.D. were deemed insufficient to lecture and supervise doctoral students at the university level, and the Habilitation was introduced, that is, a second dissertation, showing a higher and more advanced degree of research. While the doctoral degree was obtained usually at the end of a course of study at a university, the habilitation could take many additional years to write. Usually, the candidate merely registered his intention to submit a Habilitation at a particular university, and then went off to write it, while simultaneously making a living at other jobs, frequently residing in a completely different city. Only when the Habilitation was completed and accepted, could the candidate apply for academic positions at a university.
The Habilitation was required to enter the rungs of German academic hierarchy, which were determined at three levels. The highest was the "Professor ordinary/ordinarius" (ordentlicher Professor), that is, a professor who held the chair representing the field at a faculty. Below him were one or several "Professor extraordiny/extraordinarius" (außerordentlicher Professor), a professor without a chair, roughly equivalent to an associate professor. They could not be promoted to ordinary unless the chair was vacant, as a result many extraordinary professors at a university would not rise in-house, but wait until a chair at some other university opened up, and then move there.. Finally, there was the Privat-dozent, roughly equivalent to an assistant professor, who lectured and supervised students on a temporary basis. However, only the ordinary and extraordinary professors were salaried by the university. Privatdozents were unpaid, and made their (modest) living off student fees, while waiting for a call to a formal faculty position. The Habilitation was required for all three ranks, and all three ranks gave lectures.
Attendance at lectures was supposedly mandatory for students, although there were usually no obligatory in-class examinations or written assignments to accompany them. The entire verification of a student's academic achievement rested on the final degree examinations (written and/or oral) at the end. As a result, it was not unusual for German students to skip lectures entirely, study whatever they liked, and rely on private tutors to prepare for the degree examinations. The importance of academic degree examinations diminished in the 18th Century with the introduction of separate state examinations (conducted by state officials rather than the universities) for entrance into the professions and official positions. But for those intent on an academic career as a teacher, the doctoral dissertation was vital and really made the successful student distinct. The significance of the doctorate varied by faculty, e.g. in the medical faculty, the doctorate was relatively insignificant and the entire weight was placed on the rigid state examinations, while in the theological faculty, doctorates were relatively rare, most coming away with licentiates, and doctorates reserved for highly accomplished scholars.
The German model university contrasted sharply with the English (and American) universities, which were still tied to classical curricula and where degrees remained largely unearned. Obtaining a Bachelor of Arts at an Anglo-American university was frequently a matter of showing up to a final examination, which was largely ceremonial. Ritual questions were asked by friendly masters, merely to fulfill the statutes, and failure impossible (unless one showed up drunk and assaulted the examiners). The Master of Arts degree did not even have the pretence of an examination. A graduate obtained an M.A. upon request, after a couple of years, provided they had stayed out of jail and their name had not shown up in scandal sheets. As these unearned degrees did not demonstrate any intellectual or academic ability, many foreign students flocked to German universities, to earn doctorates that distinguished them from the pack. Americans in particular were drawn to graduate studies in Germany in the late 19th Century, and returned back the United States, eager to adopt the German research university model (see "New Generation").
Economics in Germany
Although rudimentary economics - under the Aristotlean rubric of "practical philosophy" - had been on the philosophy curriculum of Medieval universities, it was largely ignored by the Scholastics as a poor source for the exercise of their intellectual acrobatics. Nonetheless, it was revived during the Reformation at Protestant universities (esp. by Philip Melanchthon at Wittenberg) since it coincided with Lutheran paternalistic views of the family and State.
In the 17th Century, the Thirty Years War, and its aftermath, led to a desperate need to re-organize princely finances, and German princes looked to the universities for assistance. Public officials were mostly drawn from the law faculties of German universities, and the pressure was soon on to develop explicit courses dedicated to "cameralistics" (proto-economics) in German universities. "Cameralism" was essentially the theory and practice of public administration, public finance and economic policy. Although its economic precepts have much in common with Mercantilism, Cameralism was not articulated by merchants in pamphlets, but rather by public officials in handbooks for administration. Cameralistic handbooks would later be adapted as textbooks in German universities.
The first two chairs in cameralistics/economics were established in the same year, 1727, by the Prussian king Frederick William I - a chair in "Oeconomie, Policey und Cammersachen" at the law faculty of the University of Halle for Simon Peter Gasser, and a chair in "Kameral-Okonomie und Polizeiwissenschaft" at the University of Frankfurt-am-Oder (later Breslau) for Justus Christoph Dithmar. The first economics chair ("polizei- und cameral wissenschaft") at the University of Vienna was established in 1763 for Joseph von Sonnenfels.
As cameralistic ideas were primarily contained in large handbooks rather than pamphlets, there remained a need for a smaller, quicker means of communication of ideas, and economics journals also began to be developed in Germany, also from the universities. From Frankfurt-am-Oder, Dithmar launched what can be regarded as Europe's first economics journal, Die Oekonomische Fama, in 1729. Georg Heinrich Zincke, a professor of cameralistics at Leipzig, published his own journal, the Leipziger Sammlung from 1744. Physiocratic Johann August Schlettwein, the first economics professor at Giessen, established the Archiv für den Menschen und Bürger in allen Verhältnissen in 1780.
In the second half of the 18th Century, German intellectual life was energized by Enlightenment winds from France. The French Encyclopédie inspired Johann Georg Krünitz to launch his monumental Oeconomische Encyclopädie in 1773, which would eventually run through some 242 volumes (to 1838). The French Physiocrats had a significant influence on German economics, counting the German prince Charles Frederick Margrave of Baden, Johann von Schlettwein and Isaak Iselin as early enthusiasts. Iselin established the Ephemeriden der Menschheit in Basel in 1776, while Schlettwein, the first economics professor at Giessen, established the Archiv für den Menschen und Bürger in allen Verhältnissen in 1780.. Jakob Mauvillon's popular summary of Physiocratic doctrine in 1776 led to a vigorous debate in Germany. J. v. Sonnenfels, C.W. Dohm (1778) and J.F. Pfeiffer (1780) defended the Cameralistic doctrines against the new Physiocratic liberalism promoted by J. Mauvillon (1776, 1880), K.G. Fürstenau (1778) and Johann Springer (1780), with Georg Andreas Will taking an intermediary position.
The Napoleonic wars, and particularly the traumatic defeats of Austria at Austerlitz in 1805 and Prussia at Jena in 1807, changed things yet again. They provided the immediate impulse for comprehensive institutional reforms in German states. As usual, this was driven primarily by state officials. The old Cameralistic handbooks were dusted off and updated . The universities were overhauled, and many struggling schools were shut down or merged. State bureaucracies were modernized, and the role of government was re-thought. Political and economic models for the new German states were drawn primarily from France - albeit they came in sometimes contradictory packages of Napoleonic statism and French liberalism. In the southern German states - like Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria - there were deep changes to political systems, carving a greater role for constitutions and representative bodies, but their economies remained set on largely cameralistic lines. By contrast, in Prussia, the political system was only minimally changed, but the economy was loosened up with a dose of laissez faire. Prussian liberals, like Carl Christian Kraus in Köningsberg, brought Adam Smith into the curriculum, and had significant success in breeding a new species of reforming Prussian bureaucrats, notably Karl August von Hardenberg and, later on, Rudolph von Delbrück. Their Southern counterparts, such as like F.B.W. von Hermann in Munich, faced a more uphill battle, particularly after Friedrich List gave southern protectionism a new modern theoretical basis.
In German universities, economics was taught partly in the juridical faculty and partly in the philosophical faculty (with the exception of the three universities which had a separate dedicated political economy faculty). The first separate economics faculty was the "Public Economics Faculty" (Staatswirtschafliche Fäkultat) at University of Tübingen, established by Friedrich List in 1817. The other two were Munich and Würzburg.
Heidelberg professor Karl Heinrich Rau's three-volume classical economics textbook (Lehrbuch der Politischen Ökonomie, 1826), was extraordinarily successful and adopted in many German universities in the 19th Century. Rau's curriculum partitioned economic studies into economic theory (Volkswirtschaftslehre or, simply, Nationalökonomie), economic policy (Volkswirtschaftspolitik) and public finance (Finanzwissenschaft). Rau's tripartite division of economics would prevail in teaching in German universities until the late 20th Century.
K.H. Rau also established arguably the first proper academic economics journal, the Archiv der Politischen Oekonomie und Polizeiwissenschaft in 1835. The Tübingen economics faculty, led by Robert von Mohl, launched their own more general journal (which covered economics, political science, public law, etc.), the Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft (ZGS), in 1844. The two journals would merge in 1853 under the ZGS name, and be sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Tübinger Zeitschrift".
Economic societies were also formed in Germany. The rise of the free trade movement in Germany had led to the formation of the Deutscher Freihandelsverein (German Free Trade Association), in 1846 by the English-born laissez faire activist John Prince-Smith (its formal name was actually the "Wissenschaftlicher Verein für Handel und Gewerbe" - "Scientific Union for Trade and Industry"). Provoked by introduction of protectionist tariffs on pig-iron the Zollverein in 1844, the Prince-Smith's Freihandelsverein was modeled and energized by the success of Anti-Corn Law League in Britain, and drew its principal support from the northern port cities of Hamburg and Bremen and northern agriculturalists (southern industrialists and liberals, following List, tended to be protectionist on foreign trade). The Freinandelsverein's propaganda campaigns and influence nonetheless increased. The variety of free trade activists and clubs throughout German states came together to form the Kongreß deutscher Volkswirte (Congress of German Economists), which was launched in Gotha in September 1858 (the Kongreß held yearly congresses thereafter in Frankfurt, 1859, Cologne 1860, Stuttgart, 1861 and Weimar, 1862). The Kongreß served as the umbrella to a series of regional economic societies formed at this time. The Freinhandelsverein morphed into the Volkswirtschaftliche Gessellschaft zu Berlin (Economic Society of Berlin) in 1858, drawing primarily from liberal circles in the environs of Berlin. Other regional Volkswirtschaftliche Gessellschaft emerged in other German territories, including the VG for the Northwest (Feb 1859), East & West Prussia (Aug 1860), Saxon Lands (Oct 1860), Middle Germany (Thuringia) (1861), Southwest (1861) and Rhineland-Westphalia (1862). In 1863, the Berlin VG society launched its own journal of political economy, the Vierteljahrschrift für Volkswirthschaft und Culturgeschichte, albeit most of its pieces were policy advocacy rather than economic science properly speaking. The liberals reached their apex with the Franco-Prussian trade treaty of August 1862, bringing Prussia and the German Zollverein into the Anglo-French free trade network, and continued to exert influence through the 1860s.. However, their influence changed remarkably after the unification of the German Reich in 1871 and Bismarck's break with the liberal parties.
Economists of German Historical School inclination seceded from the free-trader Kongreß in 1872, during the "Social Question" ('soziale Frage') debate, and went on to form their own society, the Verein fur Socialpolitik, in 1873.
The Historicist Bruno Hildebrand launched the Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik (JNS) in 1863, which had an overtly academic orientation. It would become a major outlet for the German Historical School. It was carried on by his son-in-law, Johannes Conrad, after 1878. A second historicist journal was launched in 1877 by Lujo Brentano, with the long mouthful of a name Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich (JfGVV). After the editorship passed to Gustav von Schmoller in 1881, it was commonly referred to simply as "Schmollers Jahrbuch" - in contrast with the older JNS, which now became known as "Conrads Jahrbuch".
The Austrian School launched its own separate journal in 1892, the Zeitschrift für Volkswirtschaft, Sozialpolitik und Verwaltung (ZfVSV), edited by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and others. Soon after, in 1893 another group of historically-minded Austrian economists, led by Stephan Bauer founded what would become the Vierteljahrschrift für Social- und Wirthschaftsgeschichte (VSWG).
German-language universities c.1871 (alphabetical order) [square brackets denote "defunct" by 1871]
Historical German Universities (in order of foundation)
- square brackets, [x], denotes a university defunct before 1875.
[Note: this historical list excludes Central European universities where German was not the main language of instruction. For the multi-lingual Austrian Hapsburg empire, we include only the five extant universities (Prague, Vienna, Innsbruck, Graz, Czernowitz), plus the defunct universities (Olmütz, Salzburg and Linz) where German was the language of instruction (Note: Breslau/Wroclau switched from Austria to Prussia in 1742) . But the Hapsburg Empire also had a Czech faculty at Prague (f.1882), the Hungarian universities of Fünfkirchen/Pecs (f.1357, defunct by 1400), Old Buda/Ofen (1389, defunct by 1460s), Pressburg/Bratislava (f.1465, defunct by 1491) and Tyrnau (f.1636, moved to Ofen 1777 then finally to Budapest 1783); the Polish universities at Cracow (f.1364) and Lemberg/Lviv (f.1661/1784), the Croatian university of Agram/Zagreb (f.1874) and the Transylvanian university of Clausenburg/Cluj (f.1530). The University of Louvain (f.1426) in Belgium, formerly the Austrian Netherlands, is sometimes included on such lists. The Dutch universities of Leiden (f.1575), Franeker (1585, def. 1815), Gröningen (1614), Utrecht (1634) and Harderwijk (1648, def. 1815) are also sometimes included (e.g.)]
Resources on German Universities
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