The Jesuit college, which later became the Friedrich-Wilhelm Grammar School, was founded in 1561, and until the Second World War took place in the building of what is now the Episcopal Seminary on Jesuitenstrasse. Karl Marx’s time at the Trier Grammar School lasted only five years however, from 1830 until 1835. He had previously been home schooled for a number of years by his father. In 1835, at 17 years of age, Marx received a grade point average of 2.4 in his Abitur, the final year exam at school, with a 1 being the highest grade. Under Rector Johann Hugo Wyttenbach (1767–1848), also Dean of the Trier City Library, librarian of the literary society and founding member of the Society for Beneficial Research, as well as teachers like Johannes Steininger (1794-1874), the school had a strong liberal ethos.
For example, Karl Marx’s fellow pupils were the “forty-eights”, Friedrich Zell, Ludwig Joseph Bleser, Viktor Valdenaire and Ludwig Simon who all graduated between 1832 and 1836. However, the Prussian government sought to counter such democratic sympathies. Wyttenbach was under the surveillance of the Prussian secret police. In addition to this, because of generally rampant poverty, the school was continuously losing pupils (in 1825 there were 457, in 1837 only 295). Only after the founding of the episcopal boarding school in 1840 did numbers rise again. Following the destruction of the school building in 1944 and several temporary lodgings, the school moved into its current building at Fausenburg in 1961.