Institute for Contemporary History

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Institute for Contemporary History
- IfZ -
Institute for Contemporary History - IfZ -
Institute logo
Carrier: Federal Republic of Germany , Bavaria , Baden-Württemberg , Brandenburg , Hessen , Lower Saxony , North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony
Legal form of the carrier: Public foundation under civil law
Seat of the wearer: Munich
Membership: Leibniz Association
Facility location: Munich
Branch offices: Berlin


Subjects: Recent and Recent History
Areas of expertise: history
Management: Andreas Wirsching , director

The Institute for Contemporary History Munich - Berlin ( IfZ ) is a scientific institution for research into German contemporary history in particular, based in Munich and Berlin.

At the beginning of 2016 - immediately after the legal protection period had expired - the IfZ published a new edition of Hitler's Mein Kampf with comments .

Goal setting

The central task of the institute is the scientific processing of recent German history , whereby the epoch of National Socialist rule was the focus in its early days .


Since 1953, the institute has published the quarterly quarterly magazine for contemporary history (VfZ), which is one of the most important specialist journals in German historical research and is supplemented by the annual bibliography on contemporary history . In addition to the series of quarterly journals for contemporary history , which has been published since 1961, the IfZ is also the author of other series such as sources and representations on contemporary history , studies on contemporary history or biographical sources on contemporary history . The institute is also the publisher of several extensive editions of contemporary historical documents, including the files on the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany and Joseph Goebbels' diaries . The German Yearbooks of Contemporary History have been published since 2016 .

Documentation Obersalzberg

Documentation Obersalzberg

On April 30, 1952, exactly seven years after Hitler's suicide in Berlin, the ruins of his summer residence, the Berghof , were blown up in agreement with the American occupying forces and the area was then reforested. Nevertheless, the place became a place of pilgrimage for right-wing extremists and Nazi nostalgics.

The Obersalzberg was only handed over to the Free State of Bavaria by the Americans in 1996 . A two-pillar concept was developed under the leadership of the then Bavarian Finance Minister Kurt Faltlhauser (CSU) :

  • on the one hand the establishment of a documentation center at the time of National Socialism ,
  • on the other hand, the revitalization of conventional tourism at this point in order to prevent the presence of right-wing extremists.

The IfZ was commissioned to set up a scientifically sound permanent exhibition, the Obersalzberg Documentation , which, as a “place of learning and remembrance” not far from the Berghof property, was intended to set a counterpoint to the commercial use of the site as well as to be used for educational work and seminars. The Bavarian state government decided on the area next to the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden . The Obersalzberg documentation was opened on October 20, 1999.

In 2005 an extension with seminar rooms was opened, in 2006 a new exhibition room was completed in the bunker of the former Hotel Platterhof, which was expanded to include Hitler’s guest house, for temporary exhibitions. The foundation stone for another expansion was laid at the end of October 2017, and the new building is scheduled to open in 2020/21.

In 2008 the IfZ - as a supplement to the Obersalzberg documentation - also set up a notice board on the site of the former Berghof.

New edition of Hitler's Mein Kampf

At the beginning of 2016, the IfZ presented its annotated new edition of Hitler's Mein Kampf , which was initiated by Horst Möller and developed by Christian Hartmann and his team, which included the historians Thomas Vordermayer, Othman Plöckinger and Roman Töppel. It achieved six editions and sales of 85,000 pieces within 13 months. The publication was the subject of fierce controversy in the run-up to it, with the IfZ citing as an argument that it wanted to counter the Hitler cult by means of critical comments . The Bavarian State Government withdrew its support for the project in 2013.

The two volumes have around two thousand pages and 3,700 footnotes and weigh six kilograms. The publication was received with mixed feelings by the critics. On the one hand, there was praise: “The book design problems that arise from the amount of text in different typography are brilliantly solved”, on the other hand there was disillusionment: “that nothing so far unknown about Hitler's intentions, their origins and development can be reported, that nothing new about the program and ideology of the 'movement', even about the genesis of the murder of Jews ”, said Wolfgang Benz in Die Zeit . Jeremy Adler criticized the edition in two essays in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, in interviews and in his book Das absolut Böse: On the new edition of Mein Kampf massiv. Adler wrote: “Absolutely evil cannot be edited.” The anti-Semitic statements were insufficiently commented on and thus Mein Kampf's hostility to Jews was reinforced. In his preface to Adler's book, Saul Friedländer emphasizes that the IfZ edition, instead of refuting anti-Jewish statements and having an enlightening effect, confirms numerous prejudices that are still associated with anti-Semitic resentment today.


Most of the more than 9,000 reports that the IfZ has prepared for courts, authorities and ministries related to the period between 1933 and 1945. In 2017, the historian Götz Aly and René Schlott made public that the IfZ had negative Expert opinion had prevented or delayed the publication of two standard works on the Holocaust treatment in German:

  • In 1953 the institute refused to publish Gerald Reitlinger's The Final Solution , "because - as it is in the protocol - it would" disrupt "the plans for a comprehensive history of National Socialism of its own," said Aly. The history of National Socialism, which has been announced several times , never appeared.
  • In 1964, in a report for the Droemer Knaur publishing house, the translation of Raul Hilberg's The Annihilation of European Jews was judged negatively - because Hilberg only dealt with "the technical and organizational side of the extermination of Jews ", the "most important facts" of which are known to the "German public".
  • In 1980, a request from the CH Beck publishing house , also relating to Hilberg's work, received a negative answer, whereupon this publisher also refused the publication. As a result, other publishers such as Rowohlt and Suhrkamp also rejected the publication.

Nonetheless, the IfZ prepared a partial translation of Hilberg's book for internal purposes and used it in its reports for the Auschwitz trials . The Annihilation of European Jews was published in 1982 by the Berlin publisher Olle & Wolter in a small edition and only in 1990 in a paperback edition.

Archives and Library

In addition to its own research and publication activities, the institute with its archive and library provides important tools for other researchers. With over 220,000 media units, the IfZ library is now one of the “leading specialist libraries in contemporary history”. In addition, the IfZ also collects personal records from private individuals from the NZ era, "love letters, diaries or writings that documented family disputes, for example".

Institutional History

The institute was founded in May 1949 under the name “German Institute for the History of the National Socialist Era” at the suggestion of the Allies as a joint project of the federal government and the Free State of Bavaria . It has been known by its current name since 1952.

In the 1950s, the institute worked closely with the Gehlen Organization and the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) that emerged from it ; it employed some of the former Wehrmacht officers recommended by Reinhard Gehlen .

Since 1961 the institute has had the legal form of a public foundation under civil law, which is currently supported by the Federal Republic of Germany and the seven federal states of Bavaria , Baden-Württemberg , Brandenburg , Hesse , Lower Saxony , North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony . Representatives of these countries are also members of the Board of Trustees . As a research facility jointly funded by the federal and state governments, the institute is a member of the Leibniz Association . In 1972 it moved to its current headquarters in Munich-Neuhausen .

With the reunification of Germany, the contemporary historians were faced with further tasks, and their activities were extended to include GDR history. On the other hand, with the Center for Contemporary History Research in Potsdam, another institute of a comparable type was founded for the first time in 1992, so that competition arose from the IfZ. The number of publications increased significantly. The most important projects included the editions of Joseph Goebbels' diaries and the files on the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In response to the Wehrmacht exhibition , the IfZ under Möller developed the project “Wehrmacht in the Nazi dictatorship”, from which four books emerged. They confirmed the central theses of the Wehrmacht exhibition and the associated publications, but also refuted some aspects. They allowed a direct look into the brutality and war crimes of the Wehrmacht. Möller's personal closeness to France was expressed in the research project Democracy in the Interwar Period , which compared countries between Germany and France. Further topics were society and politics in Bavaria and the CSCE process . Under Möller, the edition of Hitler's speeches and writings from 1925 to 1933 was completed and under him the project on the prosecution of Nazi crimes in the German post-war justice system, which was completed in 2014, began.

During the Möller era, the IfZ was evaluated twice, in 1996 by the Science Council and in 2003 by the Leibniz Association . In both cases, the reviewers came to the conclusion that there was no longer-term concept and that too little innovative research was taking place. There are too few internationally comparable approaches and interdisciplinary cooperation.

The management is incumbent on the director (until 1961: general secretary).
The previous heads of the institute were:

The scientific advisory board of the IfZ had
the following chairmen:

It was only after their terms of office had expired that two long-term directors of the IfZ - Helmut Krausnick (from 1932) and Martin Broszat (from 1944) - were members of the NSDAP .


A special feature of the IfZ is that it fulfills service functions for German and international contemporary history research. On the one hand, the archive, which collects, indexes and makes accessible contemporary historical sources serves this purpose . On the other hand, this is the task of the library , which as a specialist scientific library with the collection of the history of the 20th century with a focus on German and European history has been of national importance since 1918. The archive and library are frequented by domestic and foreign users (especially academics, journalists and students).

In 1994 the Munich IfZ founded a branch (now a department) in Potsdam, which has been located in Berlin-Lichterfelde near the Federal Archives there since 1996 . The research focus of the Berlin-Lichterfelde department of the IfZ is on the history of the GDR / SBZ . The IfZ department in the Foreign Office has been responsible for the publication of an edition of files on the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1990 (initially in Bonn, since 2000 in Berlin).

On behalf of the Free State of Bavaria, the institute designed the Obersalzberg documentation on the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden in 1999 . The exhibition, located here, documents in particular the expansion of Obersalzberg into the residence of Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist leadership.

In July 2013 the “Center for Holocaust Studies” was set up under the direction of the historian Frank Bajohr .

Scientific controversy

In the years after 2000, when the “Institute for Contemporary History” was led by Horst Möller, there were several sensational scientific controversies . On the one hand, it was about the laudatory speech that Horst Möller gave to the controversial historian Ernst Nolte , who had been awarded the Konrad Adenauer Prize of the Germany Foundation , and on the other hand about the documentation published with the support of the Swiss former National Socialist François Genoud and the State Archives Service of Russia the so-called diaries of Joseph Goebbels in 32 volumes, which are critically commented inadequately and whose propagandistic, anti-Semitic and inflammatory statements are not explained, and finally it was about a publication in the editor of Horst Möller with the title The Red Holocaust and the Germans .


  • Joachim Käppner : In the shadow , in: Süddeutsche Zeitung No. 243 from 21./22. October 2017, p. 3.
  • Horst Möller , Udo Wengst (Ed.): 50 Years of the Institute for Contemporary History. A balance sheet. Oldenbourg, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-486-56460-9 .
  • Horst Möller, Udo Wengst: 60 years of the Institute for Contemporary History Munich - Berlin. History - publications - personal details. Oldenbourg, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-486-59048-7 .
  • Bernd Sösemann : Is it all just Goebbels propaganda? Investigations into the revised edition of the so-called Goebbels diaries of the Munich Institute for Contemporary History. In: Jahrbuch für Kommunikationgeschichte , 10th year (2008), pp. 52–76.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The two-pillar concept ( Memento from January 13, 2017 in the Internet Archive ), History of Documentation Obersalzberg, online at
  2. About us , last section u. a. on extensions and sponsorship
  3. Ceremonial laying of the foundation stone., October 30, 2017.
  4. Wolfgang Benz : "Jews": See "Giftgas" , Die Zeit (Hamburg), January 14, 2016
  5. Jeremy Adler: Absolute evil cannot be neutralized. Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 4, 2016, accessed on December 17, 2017 .
  6. Jeremy Adler: Debate: The Absolute Evil. Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 6, 2016, accessed on December 17, 2017 .
  7. Jürgen Kaube: Evil, commented. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 8, 2016, accessed December 17, 2017 .
  8. ^ Rainer Volk: "Hitler sells". SWR2, January 7, 2017, accessed December 17, 2017 .
  9. Patrick Guyton: Processing is a "service to the dignity of the victims". Der Tagesspiegel, January 8, 2016, accessed on December 17, 2017 .
  10. Hubertus Volmer in conversation with Albrecht Koschorke: Hitler's message "'Mein Kampf' is about the gesture". n-tv, January 8, 2016, accessed December 17, 2017 .
  11. ^ Horst Möller: The Institute for Contemporary History 1949–2009. In: Horst Möller, Udo Wengst: 60 years of the Institute for Contemporary History. Munich 2009, p. 10.
  12. a b Alan Posener : "German contemporary historians defended interpretation sovereignty" , Die Welt (Berlin), October 26, 2017
  13. Joachim Käppner : In the shadow , The Institute for Contemporary History always saw itself as a place of clarification about the crimes of National Socialism. But now it is also about clarification in one's own cause, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), 21./22. October 2017, p. 3.
  14. Bernhard Schulz : Big bow about the Holocaust , Why wasn't Hilberg printed? On the controversy surrounding the Munich Institute for Contemporary History, Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), October 26, 2017, p. 24.
  15. ^ Horst Möller: The Institute for Contemporary History 1949–2009. In: Horst Möller, Udo Wengst: 60 years of the Institute for Contemporary History. Munich 2009, p. 84.
  16. ^ Theresa Krinninger: How Grandpa's diary becomes history , bequests of the grandparents, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), June 23, 2017
  17. ^ Robert Koehl: Zeitgeschichte and the new German Conservatism , in: Journal of Central European Affairs, Vol. 20 (1960), No. 2, pp. 131–157 (here: p. 131).
  18. ^ History of the IfZ. Homepage of the Institute for Contemporary History, accessed on April 23, 2020.
  19. ^ Robert Koehl: Zeitgeschichte and the new German Conservatism , in: Journal of Central European Affairs, Vol. 20 (1960), No. 2, pp. 131–157 (here: p. 132).
  20. ^ Willi Winkler : Alte Kameraden Süddeutsche Zeitung , March 31/1/2. April 2018, p. 20.
  21. a b Volker Ullrich: An institute in the twilight . In: Die Zeit, June 21, 2000
  22. ^ Rainer Blasius : Horst Möller. Competence and composure . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , January 7, 2013, No. 5, p. 32.
  23. ^ Roman Töppel: Wehrmacht in the Nazi dictatorship , review in Sehepunkte , issue 10, issue 7/8 (2010)
  24. ^ Hans Maier: Change of office in the Institute for Contemporary History. Horst Möller is leaving office after 19 years . In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte , De Gruyter, edition 3/2011, pp. 467–469.
  25. Leibniz Association: Statement on the Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ)
  26. Reinhard Mohr: Wilderness of Morals . In: Der Spiegel . No. 25 , 2000 ( online ).
  27. Bernd Sösemann: Everything just Goebbels propaganda? (2008)

Coordinates: 48 ° 9 '24.7 "  N , 11 ° 32' 36.1"  E