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A tradition for more than 81 years: The Chains of Office of the University Presidents

The first Chain of Office was donated to the Staatliche Akademie für Technik in 1936 – since 1986 the third Chain of Office is in use at the Chemnitz University of Technology

On May 15, 2017, Prof. Gerd Strohmeier will in the course of his inauguration be officially awarded: the Chain of Office of the President of the Chemnitz University of Technology. It is already the third Chain of Office in the history of the University and its forerunners.

The first Chain of Office was only worn by one Director

On the occasion of the centenary of the “Staatliche Akademie für Technik” in Chemnitz, the first Chain of Office was donated by the association “Alte Herren”, a union of former students in 1936. The Director Heinrich Schimpke wore the chain until 1945. The chain is made of small massive silver plates and was produced by the jeweler Georg Bormann from Chemnitz. The gilded chain has six semi-precious stones on each side and one on the fastener. The symbols of the five majors – Chemistry, Building Trade, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Textile Industry – are displayed on round plates in red, golden, and cream-colored enamel on the lower end of the chain in two rows. Especially the lowest medallion stands out: it shows the imperial eagle, at its feet the swastika, which was scraped out after the end of the Second World War. Schimpke’s successors the Directors Wilhelm Körner, Herbert Seidel and Helmut Bremser did not wear this chain.

The second Chain of Office was donated by the City

Only in 1957, when the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering earned the right to award doctorates, the City of Chemnitz donated a new Chain of Office. “This chain is to strengthen the alliance between all creators, to work and build a better future after those hardships and bitter experiences in the past”, said the former major Kurt Berthel at the presentation on September 13. Furthermore, he praised the “artistic creativity” and “masterpiece of craftsmanship” in his speech. President August Schläfer commented the presentation: “As first President (editor’s note: prior to that they were called Directors) of our Alma Mater I will wear this Chain of Office as the external sign of honor to our university and the technical sciences.” The gilded silver chain made by a Freiberger jeweler has a big medallion with the portrait of Georgius Agricolas, city doctor, councilman and four times major of Chemnitz between 1531 and 1555. Aside from the municipal coat with the lion, eight city buildings, compass and drafting triangle as symbols for the mechanical engineering bear the insignias.

In the course of the nomination for technical college, the Chain of Office was augmented with an additional chain and awarded by the district council Karl-Marx-Stadt (former name of the City of Chemnitz) on the 15th anniversary of the foundation of the GDR (German Democratic Republik) in October 1964. The former President Hans Jäckel wore an additional medallion with the inscription “Technical College Karl-Marx-Stadt” and a portrait of Karl Marx.

The production of the third Chain of Office took seven months

The major Kurt Müller awarded a new Chain of Office for the nomination to “University of Technology” in 1986, which is still in use. Within seven months die 132 centimeter long and approx. 600 gram heavy chain was crafted – she consists of 561 gram silver, 17 gram fine gold and had a value of 100,000 Mark in the GDR. Different Erfurt artists were entrusted with this task. The jewelry designer Barbara Ruge, the commercial artist Jürgen Ellenberg, the metal designer Joachim Kaiser, the enamel specialist Rudolf Fleischer and the bookbinder Günter Lüttich worked on the masterpiece for the future Presidents of the University. The etui was made of the finest leather. Manfred Krauß, University President from 1982 till 1989, was therefore lucky to wear two different chains during his term of office. Klaus Friedrich, Head of the curator of the Karl-Marx-Stadt University of Technology, wrote in a letter to Barbara Ruge on December 8, 1986:” The new Chain of Office evoked great admiration by the Presidents and Directors of the other Universities and Colleges” and added:” The struggle for a good solution was worthwhile.”

The renaming to City of Chemnitz resulted in an exchange of a medallion, displaying now “Technische Universität Chemnitz” since 1990. The Chain of Office shines around the neck of the University President for ceremonial occasions and university festivities.

Further information on the inauguration of the Chemnitz University President Prof. Gerd Strohmeier, on May 15, 2017:

Mario Steinebach

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