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History of the AGH University

The efforts to establish a Polish mining school in Krakow and to appoint suitable teaching staff began in the second half of the 19th century and intensified when Galicia gained autonomy in 1860. Numerous projects were developed that considered, among other things, the creation of an independent mining academy or a faculty of mining at the Lviv Polytechnic or the Technical Institute in Krakow.


At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of prominent engineers and mining activists, led by Jan Zarański, went to great lengths to obtain approval for establishing a higher education institution in Krakow to educate mining engineers. Concentrated diplomatic action was taken in Vienna to win the favour of the Austrian government.

These efforts were successful, and on July 10, 1912, Krakow authorities received
a permit to establish a mining academy.

1913 – establishment of the Mining Academy

In April 1913, the Ministry of Civil Engineering in Vienna appointed the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy in Krakow, chaired by Professor Józef Morozewicz. The document that confirmed the establishment of a higher school of mining in Krakow was signed on May 31, 1913 by emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.

The outbreak of World War I made it impossible to inaugurate the first academic year of the newly-established academy in October 1914. The minutes from a conference at the President of Krakow, Juliusz Leo, contain a footnote related to the Mining Academy. A magistrate official, probably reorganising documents, wrote an additional note at the bottom of one of them that said: ‘Due to the outbreak of war, the Mining Academy was not opened, the whole matter being postponed to more peaceful times, 21st March 2015.’

1919 – opening of the academy

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy in Krakow recommenced its work.

On April 8, 1919, the Council of Ministers put forward an official motion to establish and open the Mining Academy in Krakow.

On May 1, 1919, the first six professors of the Mining Academy were appointed.

On October 20, 1919, Józef Piłsudski officiated a celebratory inauguration of the Mining Academy in the main hall of the Jagiellonian University.

Mining Academy in the interwar period

The Polish-Soviet War

Students of the Mining Academy took active part in the Polish-Soviet war in 1920. These events were described by Professor Antoni Hoborski: ‘our youth submitted to voluntary conscription, which I witnessed; then, on the 19th day of July 1920, they all went to their camps (only 6 were deemed unfit for military service)’.

The Academy had one major problem: it lacked a place to teach. In the first year of functioning, lectures took place in the buildings of the Jagiellonian University. In July 1920, the Ministry granted the Academy a worn-out building at 11 Krzemionki St., in which, over time, the authorities of the Academy were able to organise lecture halls and laboratories, as well as flats for professors and students. Other makeshift facilities were located at 18 Loretańska St. (granted by the city in 1912), 7 Mickiewicza Ave., 7 Smoleńsk St., and in a nunnery at Skałeczna St.



On June 15, 1923, with the participation of the contemporary President of the Republic of Poland, Stanisław Wojciechowski, and numerous representatives of the world of science and mining industry, the cornerstone of the new main building of the Academy was laid.

In 1925, the design of the Mining Academy emblem was created. It had the initials B.T. (Bogdan Treter) on it. It was probably approved by the General Assembly of Professors.

From September 1929 to March 1930, the main building was gradually filled with departments and central administration of the academy. In 1935, the building was officially and ceremonially blessed. The Main Building of the Mining Academy assumed its final shape shortly before the outbreak of World War II. The construction is a perfect example of academic classicism, in style in the 1920s in Poland, which constitutes a manifestation of the power and might of the reborn Polish state. The façade decoration was complemented by monumental statues of miners and metallurgists. The figures were made in 1935 by the sculptor Jan Raszka. On August 24, 1939, the top of the building was crowned with the statue of Saint Barbara made by Stefan Zbigniewicz.

The academy has quickly achieved a high-quality level of education, assuming its place among the best mining schools in Europe. Moreover, since its inauguration, the academy has cooperated closely with industry, according to its resources and capabilities, and maintained connections with the Polish economy.

At its two faculties, the Faculty of Mining and the Faculty of Metallurgy, in the interwar period, the Mining Academy had educated 792 engineers, many of whom later held high positions in Polish industry and higher education.

World War II

The Nazi German invasion of Poland in September 1939 brought the university to a halt. On September 6, Krakow was seized by German troops. They began to loot and plunder the university property, and reorganise the Main Building of the Mining Academy to house the Regierung des Generalgouvernements (General Government administration). In 1940, the statue of Saint Barbara was thrown off the top of the main building and shattered to pieces.

Sonderaktion Krakau

On September 6, 1939, a general assembly of Jagiellonian University professors was called to inform them about the policy of German authorities on science and education. On this day at noon, in room 66 of the JU Collegium Novum, professors and lecturers gathered numerously. The building was surrounded by the Gestapo and the meeting participants were arrested. Among the detainees were also Mining Academy professors who had attended another meeting in the boardroom of the JU Faculty of Philosophy. 183 people were imprisoned, among them professors, associate professors, and assistants from both universities, as well as many other people outside the academic community.

The arrested were detained at the prison at Montelupich Street in Krakow and subsequently transferred to the barracks at Mazowiecka Street. Later, they were transported to a prison in Wrocław and finally to the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen.

The concentration camp took the lives of the following:

  • Professor Antoni Hoborski – first Mining Academy rector (1920–1922)
  • Professor Władysław Takliński – Mining Academy rector (1933–1939)
  • Dr (Eng) Antoni Meyer – head of the MA Faculty of Mining Department of Legal Theory (1932–1939)

Others who remained in the camp were Andrzej Bolewski, Stanisław Gołąb, and Julian Kamecki. They were transported to the concentration camp in Dachau and released only in the last quarter of 1940. Releasing the professors was possible due to a united protest action of world scientific communities.

Mining Academy employees as victims of the Katyn massacre

Among the victims murdered by the NKVD on the territory of the Soviet Union between April and May 1940 were three Mining Academy employees:

  • Dr (Eng) Zygmunt Mitera – Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Mining (murdered in the so-called "Kharkov camp")
  • Tadeusz Ramza, Eng – Senior Assistant at the Faculty of Mining (shot in the back of the head during the liquidation of the prison camp of Polish officers in Starobielsk)
  • Augustyn Jelonek, Eng – Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Metallurgy (shot in the back of the head during the liquidation of the prison camp of Polish officers in Starobielsk)

Forced by the Germans, but with the consent of the Polish government in London and the Polish Underground State, in 1943, more than a dozen Poles went to Katyn, including the writer Ferdynand Goetel (secretary of the Mining Academy between 1920 and 1925, brother of Professor Walery Goetel). The committees corroborated that the massacre of Polish officers was executed by the Soviets. After the war, Ferdynand Goetel was to the Soviets one of the most inconvenient witnesses of the Katyn massacre.

Education during the war

Thanks to the generosity and dedication of the Mining Academy employees, the collection of the MA Main Library was safely deposited in the Jagiellonian Library. Academy activities had to go underground, and the governance attempted to reclaim or establish makeshift teaching venues and educational materials.

With the consent of the occupier, in 1940, a State School of Mining, Metallurgy, and Measurement (Staatlische Fachschule für Berg- Hütten- und Vermessungwesen) was established with Polish as the language of instruction. Professor Walery Goetel took the position of the head teacher; other professors from the closed Mining Academy became teachers. Both professors and assistants were also involved in underground education, lecturing, and teaching classes for academic students. During the underground schooling action, 278 examinations and 16 diploma exams took place.

After World War II

In 1947, by virtue of an important resolution, the academy was renamed Academy of Mining and Metallurgy (Polish: Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza, AGH). Formal approval of this change by the central authorities came only in 1949.

Professor Walery Goetel, who promoted a far-reaching development plan, initiated the expansion of the academy. His plan was carried out and implemented in the following decades.

During the authoritarian times of the Polish People’s Republic (Polish: Polska Republika Ludowa,PRL), the academic and educational profile of the academy was adjusted to the needs of industry, and the university itself thrived, as no other higher education institution at that time.

In 1969, the Academy received a patron – Stanisław Staszic. It was also when the academy obtained its banner.

On December 14, 1981, the AGH academic community, under the banner of the ‘Solidarity Movement’, took a stand and protested against suppressing – by introducing martial law – the newly acquired sense of freedom and fellowship. The AGH NSZZ ‘Solidarity’ was an academic organisation, the only one in Krakow and one of three in the country, that organised sit-down strikes in the first days of the martial law.

Since the 1990s, the academy has been developing programmes of study that chart out technological advancement, such as automatics and robotics, computer science, electronics and telecommunications, biomedical engineering, and mechatronics.

In 1999, the top of the AGH Main Building was once again crowned with a reconstructed statue of Saint Barbara, made by Jan Siek. The figure was blessed on June 17, 1999 by pope John Paul II during his sixth pilgrimage to Poland (5–17 June 1999).

In relation to a debate on the change of the academy name in 2003, it has been decided that the English translation of the name will be: AGH University of Science and Technology.

In the academic year 2006/2007, the AGH University implemented a new Visual Identity System, including a new sign identifying the university.

In the 21st century, the university has experienced extensive expansion. The campus premises have gained more than a dozen new buildings, and numerous existing objects have been modernised.