The Underground Prisons of Old Universities

Friday June 14, 2019 Written by Genevieve

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Prison 1

We’re going to take a punt here and guess that among our tertiary-educated readers, more than a few of you engaged in a little hedonism in your uni days. Drinking, kanoodling, having the odd substance-assisted night out and maybe the occasional nudie-run across a campus lawn are rites of passage that even the most demure student could be tempted to get out of their system at least once in a collegian lifetime.

So if you’re nodding your head then you might be interested to hear the story of Heidelberg University’s ‘Karzer’.

In short, the Karzer was a prison underneath the illustrious college, designed to contain the institution’s most unruly attendees. And it was not only a bizarre and kind of brutal addition to Heidelberg, but one of many attached to schools and colleges across Germany.

Prison 2

Before being outlawed in the 1930s, Karzers were thought to be an efficient way of keeping misbehaving students in line without involving police, or risking giving your distinguished academic establishment a bad name.  

Sounds like a pretty solid, if rather dastardly, scheme. Only issue was, isolating the baddest kids of the bunch in one shared space turned out to be less Shawshank Redemption and more Van Wilder Party Liason. The ne’er-do-wells inhabiting Heidelberg’s Karzer would get so loose, the crazy parties in their opium-addled digs became a thing of legend, so much so that good kids would commit campus no-no’s just to be sent there.

If it sounds too awesome to be true, check out this article over on Messy Nessy Chic to get the full story.

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