A time witness report written by Mr. Erwin Feige (Germany)

 My name is Erwin Feige. I was born in Tilsit/East Prussia (today Sowjetsk/Russia) in 1935.

In October 1944 we had to leave our home because of the war, and we found admission in Thuringia. Thuringia belonged to the GDR, which had been founded in 1949.

I was proud and happy to complete my Abitur in Weida in 1953.

During the time at the grammar school, the male students were massively ask to declare their willingness to pursue a military occupational career. I belonged to them. No matter I applied for a study in Dresden and Chemnitz.

In Mai 1953 Chemnitz was renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt.

The national uprising on the 17th June 1953 changed the economic-political and military-political adjustment of the GDR.


Then the decision was made to introduce the diploma course of studies instead of traditional decades of engineer’s education in Karl-Marx-Stadt.

In 1953 I unexpectedly got the offer to study at the college for mechanical engineering in Karl-Marx-Stadt.

Due to this offer which I accepted with pleasure I could escape the conscription to the officer candidate school in Erfurt.

On 9thOctober in 1953 I was enrolled.

To gain practical experiences, I had to do a practical training period in the “VEB Gießerei- und Bohrmaschinenfabrik Gera” in the first semester.

The basic study began with the 2nd semester on 1st of March 1954.

Fortunately, the living space allocation for “foreigners” was regulated very well. I got a nice, big, furnished room. The rent amounted to 30 German Marks.

We were 294 students, divided into 10 seminar groups. The basic study lasted up to the 6th semester and concluded with the intermediate diploma. We received an “intermediate diploma certificate” and we could have proudly added“ candidate of engineer” to our name.

Many of our lecturers were older, excellent experts, supported by ambitious assistants of the Technical University of Dresden.

I remember with pleasure many professors such as Prof. Rother, Prof. Zietemann, Prof. Göllner, Prof. Pietsch, Prof. Klitsch and Dr. Müller as well as to the first rector Prof. August Schläfer who radiated big authority.

Mr. Richter, who was very active in organizing and directing the sporting activities, is unforgettable to me.

The study and the sporting practice were taught but very clearly organized.

In summary, I can conclude today that we were given a solid training and we were able to complete the study with a diploma without delay.

The leisure activities offered in Karl-Marx-Stadt were adapted to the difficult situation in the post-war period. I remember among others the cinema “Luxor”, “Europa” and “Weltecho”. For dancing we went to the dance halls “Schlachthof, “Marmorpalst”, “Libelle”, the bar “Chemnitzer Hof” or the café “Michaelis”.

Besides, the entrance fees were affordable even for students.

At the beginning of the studies I received a scholarship of 150 German Marks but after one year I got the higher one of 180 GM.

Nevertheless, many students, like me, used the opportunity to earn extra money, for example at the big freight depot in Karl-Marx-Stadt. In order to improve our situation, relations with employees or salespersons of “Wismut” and ”HO-Wismut” were helpful, as they received special vouchers. These vouchers could then be redeemed in fine, warm food.

It should be remembered that there were food ration cards in the GDR until 1958.

With the 7th semester, in 1956, my specialized study “Technology of Mechanical Engineering” started at the institute of the same name, led by Prof. Dr. Nebel.

After completing my studies I began my professional life as a “graduate engineer” in the industrial sector of textile machine engineering.

The workplace had been conveyed to me by the university (college of higher education).

I have remained faithful to the textile mechanical engineering up to the political turn in Germany.

Unfortunately, the construction of a new building for ”Textima electronics” in which I was involved, was not completed after the political change in Germany. The shell was demolished and only a large excavation pit, the so called “Contiloch”, remained.

Today, after more than 50 years after I graduated, I try to recapitulate the time of our studies together with some of my former fellow students.