Today, the TU Ilmenau also offers many international students space to learn through many international projects and a growing English-language study program. In the winter semester of 2021/22, 1679 of 4889 enrolled students did not have German citizenship, which corresponds to a share of 33.3%. In 1992, the situation was quite different. Of the 2507 students in the 1991/92 winter semester, only 228 were from abroad, or about 9%.


Xenophobic attack

Unfortunately, living together in Ilmenau did not turn out as smoothly as it should be natural. Racism and xenophobia led to a shocking incident in April. On 13.04.1992 a foreign student of the TH was attacked and beaten up. Unfortunately, the exact course of events can no longer be constructed from the available files. The student is said to have been on his way to church and to have been injured beyond recognition while shouting racist and xenophobic slogans.



The university and the student body subsequently took a clear position against such acts. A statement was published in the Ilmenauer Hochschulblatt as well as in the Thüringer Allgemeine. The university radio station also addressed the attack. In the statement, this "violation of the most basic human rights and the use of violence against people of a different color" was criticized in the strongest terms. The people of Ilmenau were also called upon to show solidarity and hoped for support from the police. Whether the police were able to apprehend the attackers is as unknown as the state of health of the attacked student.

What is certain, however, is that the police organized a round of talks at the university in response. A chief inspector gave the interested students tips on how to protect themselves within the framework of the law.

ISWI-Orgteam (Source: University Ilmenau Archives, Neg_930516-6a)


The Ilmenau student body by no means reacted to this racism with retreat. On the contrary: Interestingly, shortly after the attack, the idea for the International Students' Week Ilmenau (ISWI) emerged for the first time. Of course, a direct connection can no longer be established here. Rather, the idea of this conference organized by students for students was probably inspired by the ISFiT (International Student Festival in Trondheim). In the issue 3/92 of the student magazine GURU on May 4, 1992, there is an enthusiastic travel report of a student combined with the wish to organize a similar event in Ilmenau. Immediately afterwards there is an appeal to help organize the first ISWI in 1993.

So instead of shying away from racist ideologies, the Ilmenau students succeeded in demonstrating solidarity, tolerance and cosmopolitanism in an extraordinary way. The ISWI has been held in Ilmenau every 2 years since 1993. It is now the largest international student conference in Germany. The next one will take place in 2023.