Eberhard Kolb

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eberhard Kolb (born August 8, 1933 in Stuttgart ) is a German historian . He is a professor emeritus for history at the University of Cologne .


Eberhard Kolb received his doctorate in 1960 at the University of Göttingen on the subject of workers' councils in German domestic politics. Kolb completed his habilitation in 1969 at the University of Göttingen and one year later became full professor of modern and contemporary history at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg . There he was dean of the Philosophical Faculty in 1973/74, a member of the Senate from 1974 to 1976, and Dean of the Philosophical Department II in 1976/77 as well as a member of several Senate commissions. From 1979 until his retirement in 1998 Kolb taught as a university professor for Middle and Modern History at the University of Cologne.

In 1981 Kolb held a visiting professorship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , and in 1984/85 he received a scholarship from the Munich Historical College . In addition to membership and chairmanship of various scientific advisory boards, the following should be mentioned: 1980 to 1986 member of the committee of the German Association of Historians (1980 to 1984 deputy chairman of the association), 1988 to 1996/97 expert reviewer of the German Research Foundation (modern history).

In 1992 Kolb was awarded the Cross of Merit on Ribbon of the Lower Saxony Order of Merit . In February 2004 he also received the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany .

Wolfram Pyta is one of his students .

Research priorities

Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

The concentration camp Bergen-Belsen takes an important place in the work of Kolb. At the beginning of 1960, the Lower Saxony state government commissioned him to develop a scientific account of the camp's history. The monograph "Bergen-Belsen" was published in 1962; It is now available in a shortened version in the sixth edition (2002). The “Document House” built in 1966 at the Bergen-Belsen memorial was designed by him; in the 1980s he played a key role in the redesign of the memorial and in the exhibition that opened in 1990.

Weimar Republic

Heinrich August Winkler describes the Cologne historian in an article as "one of the best experts on the history of the Weimar Republic". Kolb wrote the book "The Weimar Republic", which, in addition to a presentation, also illuminates the basic problems and tendencies of research. The book is now in its seventh edition. It is the "most compact and informative introduction to the history of the Weimar Republic", judged Wolfram Pyta.

Kolb's study of the “Workers ' Councils in German Domestic Policy 1918 to 1919” provided evidence that the workers' and soldiers' councils in the November Revolution did not stand in the way of the establishment of a parliamentary form of government. From this realization the question arose about the political shaping potential of the revolutionary government and about the chance of a stronger social anchoring of the still unconsolidated democracy. The resulting impulses made a decisive contribution to the fact that the birth of the Weimar Republic in the 1960s and 70s became a focus of research.

But Kolb also paid more attention to the dissolution of the republic. In numerous essays, he made it clear that the political development in Weimar's turbulent end times was not inexorably heading towards Hitler's chancellorship, but that serious alternatives - such as a temporary independence of the executive with the backing of the Reichswehr - were available and considered.

Franco-German War

The comprehensive analysis of the archival files on the prehistory of the Franco-German War led Kolb to reject the popular thesis that “Bismarck was the provocateur who, so to speak, led the French to declare war”.


Kolb has been a member of the scientific advisory board of the Otto von Bismarck Foundation since 1998 . He is an active member of the foundation and is co-editor of the "Neue Friedrichsruher Ausgabe" (edition of documents by Otto von Bismarck, his sons and colleagues). Furthermore, from 1990 to 2001 he was chairman of the advisory board of the Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte Foundation . In addition to his work on the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Kolb was also involved in the “National Buchenwald memorial” and the redesign of the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial .

Publications (selection)


  • Bergen-Belsen. History of the “Residence Camp” 1943–1945. Verlag für Literatur und Zeitgeschehen, Hannover 1962; Lit, Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-643-11067-1 .
  • The workers' councils in German domestic politics. 1918-1919 . Droste, Düsseldorf 1962 (dissertation, University of Göttingen, 1959); Edition extended by a foreword and a bibliographical appendix: Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Vienna 1978, ISBN 3-548-03438-1 .
  • The difficult road to peace. The problem of the end of the war in 1870/71 (= writings of the historical college. Lectures , 11), Munich 1985 ( digitized ).
  • The Weimar Republic . Oldenbourg, Munich 1984; 7th, revised and expanded edition 2009, ISBN 978-3-486-58870-5 ; 8th, updated and expanded edition, with Dirk Schumann , 2012, ISBN 978-3-486-71267-4 .
  • Bergen-Belsen. From “residence camp” to concentration camp 1943–1945. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985; 5th edition 1996, ISBN 3-525-36184-X ; 6th, revised and expanded edition 2002.
  • Upheavals in German history in 1866/71, 1918/19, 1929/33. Selected essays. Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-56004-2 .
  • Gustav Stresemann . Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-48015-2 .
  • The Treaty of Versailles . Beck, Munich 2005, 2nd edition 2011, ISBN 3-406-50875-8 .
  • Bismarck . Beck, Munich 2009, 2nd edition 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-56276-1 .


  • Friedrich Ebert as Reich President. Administration and understanding of office. Oldenbourg, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-486-56107-3 .
  • with Walter Mühlhausen : Democracy in Crisis. Parties in the constitutional system of the Weimar Republic. Oldenbourg, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-486-56301-7 .
  • with Ludwig Richter: National Liberalism in the Weimar Republic. The governing bodies of the German People's Party 1918–1933. Droste, Düsseldorf 1999, ISBN 3-7700-5219-6 .
  • Europe before the war of 1870. Power constellation - areas of conflict - outbreak of war (= writings of the historical college. Colloquia , 10), Oldenbourg, Munich 1987 ( digitized ), ISBN 3-486-59550-4 .
  • Albert Grzesinski : In the fight for the German republic. Memories of a German Social Democrat (= series of publications by the Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte Foundation. Vol. 9). Edited by Eberhard Kolb. Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-56591-5 .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Die Zeit Online from June 2002 .
  2. Wolfram Pyta: The Weimar Republic. Opladen 2004, p. 160.
  3. Patrick Bahners : Eberhard Kolb . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of August 5, 2013, p. 32.