Institute of Sports Science

National Socialism and its consequences

From 1925 onwards, Sturm had been working on aligning the University sports with the principles of National Socialism. This reflected Hitler’s ideological goals, as described in his book „Mein Kampf”. In that vein, Sturm turned away from gymnastics and popularised football and rugby as “combat games”, in order to use them as a form of physical exercise aimed at developing military capacities. In addition, boxing, cross country sports and small-bore shooting – so-called “military sports” – dominated sporting activity at the University of Tübingen during the Nazi period.

In 1923 Fritz Bauer was appointed sports teacher to the University, and in 1926 Karl Klett. Due to illness Paul Sturm retired on 1 January 1927.

In those days, University sports in Württemberg was not oriented according to educational principles, but according to the functional viewpoints of military sport. Paul Sturm was succeeded by Fritz Bauer as director of the University Gymnastics Institute.

In 1933, two hours of compulsory sport a week over two semesters was introduced for all students. In 1934, this was raised to four hours a week. The University Gymnastics Institute was renamed the “Institut für Leibesübungen“ (Institute for Physical Exercise).

In 1935, sport as a compulsory subject was once again modified. However, as participation in sport was remarkably high at this time anyway, this measure was superfluous.

In 1936/1937, eight men began training as sports teachers for the first time at the University of Tübingen.

Fritz Bauer, whose career was flourishing thanks to his membership in the Nazi Party, received the title, “Director of the Institute for Physical Exercise” (1937).

In 1941, Bauer was transferred to the Ministry of Education in Stuttgart and acquired the position of an “Oberregierungs- und Schulrat” (a Senior State Schoolmaster). In this capacity, Bauer disestablished the state gymnastic institution in 1942.

In 1945, the Institute for Physical Exercise at the University of Tübingen took over training of sports teachers from the state gymnastic institution.

Since 1943, the university institute had been under Albert Hirn as its director, who was based in Strasbourg.

After the French captured the city in 1945, the University was closed and the occupying forces requisitioned its buildings. The University was already open again by the end of 1945; however, university sport remained forbidden. At the beginning of April 1945, Albert Hirn went with his family, his wife and four children to Lübeck. From there, his children managed to reach Sweden with their mother, a native of that country, thanks to a rescue initiative by the Swedish Red Cross. Hirn himself remained in Flensburg (Germany) until 1947. Karl Klett was not compromised by membership in the Nazi Party and he remained at the university as a university sports teacher with permanent civil service status.

In March 1947, Klett applied to the University’s Vice-Chancellor for the reinstatement of practical programmes in physical exercise. The French soon signalled their agreement and even held out the possibility of setting up an institute for training gymnastics teachers.

However, changes in the military government’s personnel hampered developments at the University of Tübingen. It did, in fact, become possible to pursue sports voluntarily under Karl Klett’s direction at the University, but re-establishing the Institute for Physical Exercise did not initially ensue.

After another request to reopen the Institute in 1950, permission was granted – yet still without any training for sports teachers.

In 1954, the requisitioned gymnasium, and then in 1956 the stadium, at the University were released, creating the local conditions for commencing sports teacher training again in the Summer semester of 1955.

Not much later, the question of the personnel profile at the Institute came up. Karl Klett may not have been politically compromised, but he had only had one year’s training as a gymnastics teacher and no academic qualifications.

The question of the directorship arose in 1949, when Hans Götz, one of Fritz Bauer’s former assistants, came back from captivity as a prisoner-of-war. He had civil servant status and academic qualifications. However, he lacked the specific academic expertise. He was, in fact, appointed as a commissioner, but the state government refused to make him director of the Institute for Physical Exercise. On 15 December 1957, Hans Götz died unexpectedly.

Franz Lotz then took over the commissioner’s role in 1957. One year later, Ommo Grupe, a graduate of the German Sport University of Cologne and holder of a doctorate in paedagogy, was appointed as an assistant lecturer.