Hermann Duncker

To the Students


First Published: Undated manuscript from the period 1949 to 1960, first published in German in Gedanken Hermann Dunckers zu Studium und Lehre, Verlag TribŁne, Berlin, 1964, pp. 55-57.
Source: Hermann Duncker: Introduction to Marxism. Selected Speeches and Writings, VEB Edition Leipzig, Leipzig, 1963, 2. enl. ed., pp. 48-50.
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive 2021
Transcribed: Geoff
HTML Markup: Zdravko Saveski


The Trade Union School wants

1. to accustom the students to scientific working and thinking.

2. to give to the trade union functionary the scientific equipment for his practical activity

a) in socialist construction,

b) in modern trade union organization under socialism,

c) in aiding the trade unionists in their work and in safeguarding their interests.

Naturally, work at the School is not always easy.

1. It requires of you a steadfast perseverance and an iron will. "Everybody can learn everything," should be the maxim of every socialist. Duration and methods of studying may differ.

2. This demands self-examination and unremitting questioning until everything has been cleared up.

3. You will be helped to mind

a) by your fellow-students,

b) by the teachers, whom you may consult individually as well as in groups.

It is your human right to be enlightened! Diligence and willingness are of course pre-requisites. You may be confident that every teacher will gladly help you if you ask him a precise question.

Although your studies will occupy most of your time, you should not forget to remain in touch with your former work-mates who will certainly like to take an interest in your development. (Likewise, you should keep your families informed about the progress you are making.) Students at the School live and work together as a community. A spirit of comradeship should be matter of course among trade union brothers and socialists!

After all, solidarity is the first commandment of our morality. Always remember the enormous financial support given to the School by the Free German Trade Union Federation.

Show yourself worthy of this confidence! Let diligence and devotion be the tokens of your gratitude.

But never forget that you are working not for the school, but for life!

You are not studying with the aim of getting lucrative positions or higher ranks. (Under socialism, there is no higher rank than that of worker.) Outstanding performance shall certainly find its reward. But the essential point is

a) that you help in the construction of socialism,

b) that you render excellent services to the union,

c) that you come to be real brain-workers, highly educated socialists, people of the highest culture.

The trade union student links up theory with practice. It is the practice of socialist construction to which he makes his contribution. That is his pride and his honour, and it is expected of him that he should influence and inspire the activity of hundreds and thousands of unionists. At present, the most important task lies in socialist production, for the sake of the victory of socialism, and of setting an example for the masses of people in the capitalist countries.

Adults in the Classroom

1. Learning means to be young!

2. Even in the most advanced years of our lives we are still learning, gaining new experiences and correcting earlier ones.

3. Tradition may be a danger! Marx: "The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living." (From "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte", chapter I.)

4. Therefore do not stand in awe of old age. (An old donkey is more dangerous and stubborn than a young one.)

5. Old people are slower of apprehension because they survey more consequences.

6. Giving lessons to adults provides the teacher with an opportunity of checking his own knowledge.

a) You are confronted with a good deal of practical experience which has to be incorporated into theory.

b) You come to realize the weak points of former arguments.

c) Objections raised will be well-founded and intelligent, demanding more serious refutation.

d) You will meet with a much livelier response by gaining the support of experienced propagandists of mature age.