Federal Agency for Civic Education

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Federal Agency for Civic Education
- bpb -

State level Federation
position Unincorporated federal agency
Supervisory authority Federal Ministry of the Interior
founding November 25, 1952
Headquarters Bonn
Authority management Thomas Krüger ( SPD )
Servants 220
Budget volume EUR 64.71 million (2019)
Web presence bpb.de
The building of the federal headquarters in Bonn

The Federal Center for Political Education ( bpb ) was founded in 1952 as the Federal Center for Homeland Service in the Federal Republic of Germany . It has had its current name since 1963. The bpb is a subordinate authority within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of the Interior with its seat in Bonn . The bpb maintains media centers in Bonn and Berlin . Thomas Krüger has been President of bpb since June 2000 .


The state headquarters and the federal agency for political education work at the interface between the state, politics, educational institutions, science and the media. Its spectrum of activity includes extracurricular political youth and adult education, as well as political education in schools. You work on behalf of the public and are guided by the principles of pluralism, controversy and rationality.

The goals of political education were specified in the Munich Manifesto of May 26, 1997; the tasks are officially defined in the decree on the Federal Agency for Civic Education of January 24, 2001 . It says in § 2:

"The Federal Center has the task of promoting understanding of political issues through political education measures, consolidating democratic awareness and strengthening the willingness to participate in politics."

Section 6 (1) of the decree on the Federal Agency for Civic Education states that the politically balanced stance and the political effectiveness of the work of the Federal Agency are monitored by a board of trustees consisting of 22 members of the German Bundestag .


The Federal Center was founded in 1952 as the Federal Center for Homeland Service to make a German contribution to education for democracy (reorientation) . The “ Reichszentrale für Heimatdienst ” ( Reich Central Office for Homeland Service ), which itself emerged from the “Central Office for Homeland Service” founded in spring 1918, was a kind of forerunner during the Weimar Republic . While the central office was supposed to strengthen the resilience of the population during the First World War , the Reichszentrale was commissioned in 1919 to promote democratic awareness and impart knowledge about parliamentary democracy .

The institutionalization of the Centers for Civic Education both at the state level and at the federal level is the result of experiences with the collapse of Weimar democracy and the subsequent National Socialist dictatorship. But its roots also lie in the re-education policy of the western allies after 1945 with the aim of “re-educating” the Germans to democracy. But there were also efforts by citizens themselves to teach and learn democracy. So z. For example, in the area of ​​what is now Baden-Württemberg and in Rhineland-Palatinate, citizens come together in associations to help the delicate plant democracy grow.

The Federal Office develops its services in dialogue with society, science and politics and orients the thematic priorities to current socio-political issues. So who was anti-communism influential in the early years. On November 28, 1957 (decree), on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, this led to the establishment of the Ostkolleg in Cologne , which was later moved to Brühl . In the decree, the college was commissioned to “contribute to the intellectual-political debate with international communism through study conferences”. The institution was later renamed "Ost-West-Kolleg" and primarily served the dialogue with the Central and Eastern European countries. Since 2003 the Ost-West-Kolleg has been called “Conference Center Brühl” and was closed on September 1st, 2004.

From 1985 to 1989 Hans-Helmuth Knütter was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Central Office for the CDU .

In 2002, the political scientist Gudrun Hentges carried out a first research project on the history of the Federal Agency for Civic Education and published the results under the title State and Civic Education: The Federal Center for Homeland Service and Federal Center for Civic Education in the field of tension between propaganda, public relations and political education . On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the federal headquarters in November 2012, she held a conversation with Klaus Pokatzky, Deutschlandradio Kultur , about “Propaganda, Public Relations and Political Enlightenment”. Her monograph State and Civic Education: From “Central Office for Homeland Service” to “Federal Central Office for Civic Education” (with a foreword by Christoph Butterwegge ) was published by Springer VS on December 14, 2012 . On November 6, 2012, the newspaper Das Parlament published its article New beginning of state political education: The Federal Center for Homeland Service 1952–1963 in the supplement From Politics and Contemporary History . The publication is rated as one-sided by the reviewer Detlef Kühn in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .

Following an initiative by Federal Interior Minister Seehofer to move more authorities to East Germany, it was decided in July 2020 that the federal headquarters will have a new branch in the Thuringian city of Gera in addition to the previous locations in Bonn (headquarters) and Berlin. The new branch will focus on political education in rural regions. This should take place in particular through activating and participation-oriented event formats and outreach political education. Around 40 employees will work at the new location in Gera.

Authority management


In the 2013 budget year, the Federal Central Office had 37.8 million euros at its disposal to finance its tasks. It spent 9.3 million euros on print products, 7.2 million euros on events, and 5.7 million euros on online and multimedia products. The household budget spent in 2014 was € 43 million, € 46.7 million in 2015 and € 50.2 million in 2016. The share of material expenses also rose from 66.5–68.3% during this period. This can be explained by the increase in the budget with the increasing need for political education work within the German population.

Focus of work

The bpb pursues the goals of political education through offers in the following areas

  • Meetings, seminars, forums, congresses and study trips
  • Publications on important topics
  • Teaching and learning materials for political education
  • Development of new methods and use of new information transfer techniques
  • Exhibitions and competitions
  • Establishment and coordination of a "network of political education"
  • Support and promotion of a pluralistic educational offer.


The bpb publishes the information on political education (known as “Schwarze Hefte”) and the weekly magazine Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ) every three months. In their editions, the APuZ mainly deal with one topic in specialist articles and essays. As a rule, they appear weekly as a supplement to the weekly newspaper Das Parlament , which was also published by the bpb from 1952 to 2000. The Parliament has been published by the German Bundestag since 2001 . The information on political education is also monothematic and takes up political, economic, historical and social topics. The magazine can be obtained free of charge from bpb.

The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (in German, Arabic, Russian and Turkish) is also available free of charge to all citizens via the bpb .

With the so-called “series of publications”, the Federal Center finally offers monographs and anthologies on political science, contemporary history, sociological and economic topics. The publications can be ordered for a flat fee, which for most titles is between € 4.50 and € 7. In 2005 the bpb spent 11.9 million euros on printed works including shipping, the income from the provisioning fee amounted to 2.7 million euros, which is mainly used to refinance the reprints of out-of-print titles.

A publication with the possibility of feedback is the announcement of the student competition for political education , which has been offered annually since 1971 . In the meantime, more than three million children and young people have worked on the proposed teaching projects and submitted their results. The bpb's student competition is also advertised in the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Austria .

The bpb is also the publisher of the journalistic service magazine Drehscheibe , which presents the best ideas and concepts from local editorial offices on a monthly basis and thus serves as a source of ideas for local journalists . The turntable has been around since 1981.

Since October 2001 bpb has also been responsible for the youth magazine fluter . The online magazine fluter.de is editorially supported in Berlin; Monthly changing main topics are presented in the four sections "Topic", "Reading", "Film" and "Current". The print magazine fluter appears four times a year and is produced by DUMMY Verlag in Berlin.

On the website www. hanisauland .de, the bpb has been presenting a comic and a political lexicon since June 2002. Both are also published in print. The target group are children between 8 and 12 years of age.

Since 2001 the bpb has published the “Timer” school calendar every year. In the calendar, the timer offers background information from politics, contemporary history, culture and society as well as a service section with link lists, maps and editorial articles on every weekday. The circulation is over 300,000 copies. The calendar is aimed at students aged 15 and over.

The multimedia project “ Youth Opposition in the GDR ” was founded in cooperation with the Robert Havemann Society , and in 2005 it received the Grimme Online Award with its website jugendopposition.de .


The Federal Agency for Civic Education offers 11 different newsletters, including the European press review eurotopics and the security policy press review .


The bpb initiates symposia, congresses, seminars, study trips and events in order to achieve the goals of political education. The events are either aimed directly at citizens or are tailored to experts and multipliers in political education. They can always be updated and viewed under the menu item "Events" of the Federal Agency for Civic Education.

Holocaust Conferences

In addition to general work against right-wing extremism , the Federal Agency for Civic Education has been organizing international Holocaust conferences every two years since the Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran in 2006 :

  • 2006 The Holocaust in Transnational Memory
  • since 2009 always from January 27 to 29 under the title International Conference on Holocaust Research
  • 2009 perpetrator research in a global context
  • 2011 helpers, rescuers and networkers of the resistance
  • 2013 Volksgemeinschaft - community of exclusion. The radicalization of Germany from 1933
  • 2015 Afterwards - The Holocaust as a story of experience 1945–1949

Promotion of recognized educational institutions

The bpb realizes the goals of political education by promoting the work of foundations, associations and organizations (independent providers of political education). More than 300 recognized educational institutions can apply for a per capita grant for each participant of an eligible measure within the framework of an annual budget, which is to be used directly to reduce the seminar fee.


In September 2010 the Federal Agency for Civic Education was warned by the Federal Constitutional Court to maintain balance and the rule of law. The decision of the chamber concerned the criticism of the federal headquarters of the theses of the political scientist Konrad Löw , who relativized anti-Semitism within the population during the Third Reich. Although the Federal Central Office is entitled to distance itself from extreme opinions, at the same time it is always obliged to the rule of law, balance and distance and cannot invoke the fundamental right of freedom of expression like a private person . After delivery of the magazine Deutschland-Archiv, published by the federal agency, in 2004, the federal agency apologized by letter to the subscribers. Löw then sought legal recourse. The constitutional judges pointed out that with the derogatory letter the essay had been presented as no longer debatable and that Löw's personal rights had been violated. The authority could not present its historical interpretation as the only legitimate or defensible, it said to justify.

“With a lot of commitment” (Der Spiegel) prevented Peter Clever , a member of the management of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations , from selling the book Economy and Society . The volume contains twelve "building blocks for school and extra-curricular political education" written by different authors and was published in February 2015 by the bpb. In June 2015 Clever wrote a five-page letter to the President of the Federal Agency for Civic Education and a copy to the Federal Ministry of the Interior , to which the Federal Agency is formally subordinate, expressing his “alienation” about the publication, as entrepreneurship there would get off too badly: “The in We have known the ideological and biased accusations conveyed by your publication from interested circles for a long time. The fact that they are now being distributed and recommended by the Federal Agency for Civic Education is scandalous and unacceptable. ”The book corresponds to“ one-sided propaganda against the economy ”. Clever asked for the book to be taken out of distribution in this form, whereupon the Ministry of the Interior under Thomas de Maizière (CDU) asked the Federal Agency for Civic Education to stop selling the book. The German Society for Sociology was shocked, the scientific advisory board of the bpb dealt with the case and voted with a large majority in favor of lifting the sales ban . The publication has been available again since November 2015.

Another intervention by the Federal Ministry of the Interior led to a protest in March 2019. The bpb had Philipp Ruch , the artistic director of the action artist group Center for Political Beauty , as a speaker at their 14th Federal Congress entitled “What moves us. Emotions in Politics and Society ”, but had to unload the artist again by order of the Interior Ministry. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior justified the instruction by stating that an invitation from the artist could be understood as the state legitimation of the group's actions, for example the “Soko Chemnitz” campaign previously criticized by the ministry . 10 members of the SPD parliamentary group, also members of the board of trustees of the bpb, wrote a letter to Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and asked for Ruchs to be re-invited, as did the domestic policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group , Burkhard Lischka . Konstantin Kuhle , domestic policy spokesperson for the FDP parliamentary group , spoke of a "refusal to discuss" , the domestic policy spokeswoman for the Bundestag parliamentary group Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen Irene Mihalic of "an attack on freedom of expression" . Even Martina Renner , domestic policy spokesperson of the Left faction , condemned the decree: "That can remove a politically unpopular artists from the program, the Interior Ministry issued a decree, is small-minded and authoritarian. In a democracy, it should be possible for art that the Minister of the Interior does not like to be prominently discussed. ” Only Götz Frömming , education policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group , welcomed the invitation and described the group as “ agitprop activists ” . Christian Meyer-Heidemann , State Commissioner for Political Education Schleswig-Holstein , described the interference on Deutschlandfunk Kultur as a clear case of censorship : “Regardless of how one evaluates the artistic content, it must always be possible to discuss it critically. This discourse is but "by the throat prevented. He evaluated the interference with the independence of the bpb as border crossing, the technical supervision will improperly applied.

See also


  • Benedikt Widmaier: The Federal Agency for Political Education. A contribution to the history of state political education in the Federal Republic of Germany. Master thesis. University of Heidelberg. In: Contributions to Political Science. 35. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-8204-1122-4 .
  • Gudrun Hentges : State and political education: The Federal Center for Homeland Service and Federal Center for Political Education in the field of tension between propaganda, public relations and political education. (Results of a research project on the history of the BPB). Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-18670-2 .

Web links

Commons : Federal Agency for Civic Education  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Announcements on the website of the Federal Central Office , accessed on June 6, 2015.
  2. Bundeshaushalt.de: www.Bundeshaushalt.de. Retrieved August 30, 2019 .
  3. Press text of the official ceremony celebrating 50 years of bpb
  4. ^ A b Peter Massing: Federal and State Centers for Political Education. In: https://m.bpb.de/ . Federal Agency for Civic Education, March 19, 2015, accessed on December 12, 2019 .
  5. ^ Decree on the Federal Agency for Civic Education of January 24, 2001
  6. Siegfried Schiele: Political education on behalf of the public - the federal and state centers for political education. In: Gotthard Breit, Siegfried Schiele (Hrsg.): Democracy needs political education. Wochenschau, Schwalbach / Taunus 2004, ISBN 3-89331-561-6 , pp. 257-266.
  7. Siegfried Schiele: Extracurricular political education in state responsibility - the example of the federal and state centers for political education . In: Bernhard Claußen, Rainer Geißler (Hrsg.): The politicization of people. Instances of political socialization. A manual . Opladen 1996, p. 239 .
  8. Quoted from the publication reference "Ostkolleg der Bundeszentrale für Heimatdienst" on the website of the Federal Agency for Political Education (May 19, 2006).
  9. a b Federal Agency for Political Education: Annual Report 2002/2003 ( PDF; 1.6 MB ( Memento from December 5, 2004 in the Internet Archive ))
  10. a b Federal Agency for Political Education: Annual Report 2004/2005 ( PDF; 2.5 MB )
  11. ^ The home service 50 years of the Federal Agency for Civic Education ( Memento from December 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  12. ^ Propaganda, public relations and political education on Dradio.de
  13. Article on www.bpb.de
  14. Detlef Kühn: With CIA money against Stalin's world. In: faz.net. June 30, 2014, accessed December 11, 2014 .
  15. ^ New location of the Federal Agency for Political Education in Gera, Thuringia. Retrieved July 19, 2020 .
  16. Federal Agency for Political Education: Annual Report 2004/2005 ( PDF; 2.5 MB )
  17. Federal Agency for Civic Education: Income and expenditure: The budget of the Federal Agency for Civic Education | bpb. Retrieved August 10, 2018 .
  18. Stefan Strauss: More than 700 underground newspapers are now being digitized: The memory of the GDR opposition. August 24, 2005, accessed on January 3, 2019 (German).
  19. ^ Grimme Online Award, 2015 Prize Winner: Youth Opposition in the GDR. grimme-online-award.de, accessed on January 3, 2019 .
  20. ^ Youth opposition in the GDR. In: havemann-gesellschaft.de. Robert Havemann Society, accessed on January 3, 2019 .
  21. About youth opposition | Youth opposition in the GDR. Retrieved January 3, 2019 .
  22. List of newsletters
  23. Security policy press review. Federal Agency for Civic Education, accessed on February 15, 2014 .
  24. bpb.de
  25. bpb.de dw.de
  26. bpb.de
  27. konferenz-holocaustforschung.de bpb.de
  28. bpb.de
  29. bpb.de
  30. bpb: Funding guidelines , valid from January 1, 2013.
  31. BVerfG, 1 BvR 2585/06 of August 17, 2010
  32. Economy and Society
  33. ^ Scandal - employers put pressure on the Federal Agency for Civic Education. In: wap.igmetall.de. October 20, 2015, accessed December 31, 2016 .
  34. Federal Association of German Employers 'Associations &: Federal Association of German Employers' Associations - Peter Clever for the discussion about the volume "Economy and Society" of the Federal Center. In: berufgeber.de. October 27, 2015, accessed December 31, 2016 .
  35. Brief Clevers (PDF)
  36. Bernd Kramer: Economy in the school: employer lobby stops teaching book. In: Spiegel Online . October 26, 2015, accessed December 31, 2016 .
  37. Katja Thorwarth: Philipp Ruch from the ZPS: Intervention of the Ministry of the Interior a case of censorship? In: fr.de. Frankfurter Rundschau, March 7, 2019, accessed on March 8, 2019 .
  38. Nikolaus Pichler: Congress for Political Education - Ministry prevents artist from speaking: SPD politicians turn to Seehofer with a letter and protest. In: stern.de. March 6, 2019, accessed March 8, 2019 .
  39. Christian Meyer-Heidemann in conversation with Eckhard Roelcke: Unloading the "Center for Political Beauty" - "That is of course censorship". In: Deutschlandfunk Kultur . Deutschlandradio , March 6, 2019, accessed on March 8, 2019 (German).

Coordinates: 50 ° 43 ′ 39.7 ″  N , 7 ° 6 ′ 33.5 ″  E