90 years ago: The first student hall of residence in Leipzig was opened

The first new student hall of residence in Leipzig built specially for students would have turned 90 these days. The Erich Bethe House, named after the former chancellor of Leipzig University, was inaugurated on 10 May 1931 and existed until 1943.
erstes Leipziger Wohnheim Erich-Bethe-Haus
Photo: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig (F50572005)

On 10 May 1931, the Erich Bethe House was officially opened in Bozener Weg (today Lichtenbergweg) close to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal. The building is named after the former chancellor of Leipzig University who was also a committed co-founder of the first hall of residence in Leipzig that was built explicitly for students in 1931. There had been efforts to build a student house for some time, but organization and financing took years. An association for the promotion of student halls of residence was founded to manage the funds. The building site was provided by the city of Leipzig as a hereditary lease, a building loan was also granted. The hall of residence was financed in part by special student semester contributions (building money) and private money for the total costs of RM 250,000. The house was operated by the Wirtschaftsselbsthilfe, the predecessor of today's Studentenwerk Leipzig.

The Erich Bethe House offered accommodation for 50 students in single, double and triple rooms. Other rooms and special facilities also included:

  • A sand court in the inner courtyard for parties and morning gymnastics.
  • Common rooms and workrooms.
  • A music room.
  • A reading room.
  • A bicycle room.
  • A dining room.
  • Balconies and green areas.
  • Overnight accommodation for passing travellers.

"The house, built in the style of a simple country house, flies the flag in the colours of the university. The grey of the external artificial plaster blends effectively with the young spring green of the former estate park" (Taschenbuch der Leipziger Studentenschaften, Leipzig 1932/33).

The Erich Bethe House was destroyed in December 1943 and never rebuilt. After the war, space had to be created for the students - as many students as possible had to be accommodated. Officially, therefore, life in boarding schools was promoted, in rooms with up to eight people. New dormitories were to be set up in old buildings, the process was organized by the university administration. Following this directive, the Workers' Student Home at August-Bebel-Strasse 73 and the dormitory at Liviastrasse 4/5 were opened.

A look inside the Erich-Bethe-Haus (1935)

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Find out more about the 100-year long history of the Studentenwerk Leipzig