Efforts to establish the Mining Academy
On 31st May 1913, Emperor Francis Joseph I approved the establishment of a higher school of mining in Krakow. This act had preceded long endeavours to establish an academy that would educate engineers of mining and metallurgy.
In 1912, a group of outstanding engineers and mining activists led by Jan Zarański initiated the process of applying for a consent to establish a school of higher education that would educate mining engineers in Krakow. The endeavours were successful, and in 1913 the Ministry of Public Work in Vienna appointed the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy, chaired by Professor Józef Morozewicz.
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 made it impossible in October to commence the first academic year of the newly-opened university. A clerk of the Municipal Council, probably tidying up documents, scribbled a note in the corner of one of them: “Due to the outbreak of war, the Mining Academy was not opened, the whole matter being postponed to more peaceful times, 21st March, 1915.”
When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the Organising Committee recommenced its work, and on 8th April 1919, the Council of Ministers passed a resolution to establish and open the Mining Academy in Krakow. The first professors were nominated by Józef Piłsudski, Chief of State, on 1st May 1919.
On 20th October 1919, Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Head of State, inaugurated the Mining Academy in the main hall of the Jagiellonian University.
On 15th June 1923, the cornerstone for the future university building was laid. Two years later, the project of the Academy emblem (to be seen in the AGH UST History Museum) signed B.T. – Bogdan Treter – was created; the emblem was probably approved by the General Assembly of Professors.
In 1935, in front of the entrance to the main building of the Academy, the monuments of miners and metallurgists were unveiled; they were made of a ceramic material by the sculptor Jan Raszka.
Soon, the Academy reached a very high educational standard, becoming one of the best European mining schools, and in some specialisations its scientist achieved results of considerable importance for knowledge and science. Moreover, from its early days, the university collaborated closely with industry and retained links with the Polish economy, which was its characteristic feature. The outbreak of World War II stopped the development of the Mining Academy.
World War II
Among 184 professors of Krakow universities who were arrested by the Gestapo within the framework of “Sonderaktion Krakau” started on 6th November 1939, there were 18 professors and 3 assistant professors, which was nearly the entire academic staff of the Mining Academy. The science and research elite were deported to the Nazi Germany's concentration camps in Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg and Dachau. Between 1939 and 1945, the main building of the Academy was occupied by the German General Government. The property of the Academy was completely devastated and plundered, and the sculpture of St Barbara was broken by an act of throwing it from the roof of the main building. Thanks to the dedication of staff, part of the library was saved.
The Academy started to act in conspiracy, and the authorities tried to regain or create provisional teaching facilities.
At the beginning of 1945, the Mining Academy in Krakow was the only organised technical university in the country. It became a support centre for other technical universities. The Cracow University of Technology came into being within the walls of the Academy; it acted under the name of the Polytechnic Faculties of the Mining Academy until 1954. The Academy also played a major role in the establishment of the Silesian University of Technology (23 Mining Academy graduates were professors there), and Częstochowa University of Technology, and it also contributed to the reconstruction of Warsaw University of Technology, and the organisation of Wrocław University of Science and Technology and Gdańsk University of Technology.
In 1947, an internal decision was made to rename the university the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy. However, a formal approval of the decision by superior authorities took place only in 1949.
In 1969, having already 10 faculties, the Academy received – alongside the name of Stanisław Staszic and the standard (flag) – a centrally-introduced institute-based structure.
On 14th December 1981, the AGH UST academic community, under the flag of "Solidarność", had courage to protest against suppressing – by an act of imposing Martial Law – the retrieved feeling of freedom and solidarity. The Independent Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarność" at AGH UST was a university organisation, the only one in Krakow and one of only three in Poland, which organised sit-down strikes in the first days of Martial Law.
In 1999, the sculpture of St Barbara was returned to the roof of the main university building A-0.
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