As a young soldier in the Second World War, Jauss spent two winters on the Russian Front in the SS (SS-Nr. 401.359) and the Waffen-SS. In 1942, he was a member of the "SS-Freiwilligen-Legion Niederlande". In 1943, he was Obersturmführer in the "11th SS-Freiwilligen-Legion Nordland". In 1944, he was Hauptsturmführer in the SS reserve. Subsequently, he was part of the "33rd Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS Charlemagne".
In 1944, he was able to begin his studies and complete his first semester in occupied Prague. In November 1948 at Heidelberg, the twenty-seven-year-old Jauss, after postwar imprisonment, began studies in Romance Philology, Philosophy, History and Germanistik (German literature and linguistics). Teachers at that time who made an impact on his thought included Martin Heidegger and Hans Georg Gadamer. He was to remain there until 1954. In these years he made study trips to Paris and Perugia.
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