The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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25 February 1933

Confirmation of Erik Marcuse‘s successful completion of his doctoral examination

"Cum laude" is the assessment that Erik Marcuse received for the doctoral examination he took on 25 February 1933 at the Philosophy Department of the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin. His dissertation, submitted just one month earlier, was graded "laudabile" ("good"). It was titled "The Branch System of Major German Banks: Driving Forces and Limitations."

An appointment at the dean‘s office on 27 February 1933 is entered on the back of the card that notes the exam results. There is also a reminder that the doctoral process had to be completed no later than six months after the examination was taken. To do so Marcuse needed to submit the dissertation in printed form. Since he lacked the funds for the printing, he had to apply for two extensions. Finally, on 2 March 1934, he was awarded his doctorate in political science.

With the exception of universities in Baden, Jews were allowed to pursue doctoral work in Germany until April 1937. Nevertheless, from late April 1933, the number of Jewish students at German universities was strictly limited.

Erik Marcuse was born as the son of a Berlin property developer in 1907. His older brother, Herbert Marcuse, became a famous philosopher. Erik studied in Freiburg, Bonn and Berlin, and, in June 1928, earned his master's in economics. He conceived the idea for his dissertation during a two-year tenure at the Darmstädter und Nationalbank in Berlin, where he was in charge of managing commercial buildings. In 1934—the year he got married—he made a surprising career switch and began working as an architect and construction foreman for the office of a non-Jewish architect in Berlin, using skills he had evidently acquired outside his studies.

It was not until March 1939 that Erik and his wife Gisela left Berlin with their seven month old daughter and settled in London. In Hampstead Garden Suburb the couple opened a shop that over time became an exclusive fashion boutique. Erik Marcuse was granted British citizenship in 1948.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): Berlin | students
Card confirming Erik Marcuse‘s successful completion of his doctoral examination, Berlin, 25 February 1933
Gift of Carol Roberts, née Marcuse, und Tana Marcuse