Part of the culture of remembrance is the critical examination of one’s own history. Herwart Siegfried Opitz is part of the history of RWTH. His participation in the National Socialist committees was not addressed by himself or by the university for a long time.


Herwart Siegfried Opitz was a former professor and rector of RWTH Aachen University. He headed the Machine Tool Laboratory (WZL) of the RWTH Aachen University from April 1936 to April 1946 and from March 1948 to October 1973. Opitz is considered one of the pioneers of the scientific success of the WZL. As a memorial to him, a bust of him stands in the main building of the WZL.

Despite his achievement, his involvement in the system apparatus of the National Socialists must not be disregarded under any circumstances. Opitz was a member of the NSDAP, the SA and deputy of the lecturers Association (“Dozentenbund”). Whether he pursued these memberships out of political conviction or to improve his career options can no longer be reconstructed from today’s sources. As he also did not show any signs of resistance against the system, his denazification by the Allies and the reinstatement as head of the WZL are questionable from today’s perspective. 

Following a resolution of the student parliament, we as AStA are dealing with the examination of memorials at RWTH Aachen University in a new project. Part of this project is an article about Herwart Siegfried Opitz on our website. If you are interested in this topic, please have a look at our text: