Karl Schlögel

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Karl Schlögel as the winner of the Leipzig Book Fair 2018

Karl Schlögel (born March 7, 1948 in Hawangen ) is a German East European historian and journalist specializing in the history of Russian modernism and Stalinism , Russian diaspora and dissident movement, the cultural history of Eastern European cities, theoretical problems of historical narration.

Live and act

Karl Schlögel was born as the second of six children to the farmer couple Clemens and Victoria Schlögel in Hawangen, where he also attended elementary school from 1954 to 1958. He then went to the Collegium Rupertinum Humanist High School in the nearby Benedictine Abbey of Ottobeuren and then to that in Scheyern in Upper Bavaria, where he graduated from high school in 1967. After doing civilian service in Bonn, he began studying philosophy, sociology, Eastern European history and Slavic studies at the Free University of Berlin in the spring of 1969 .

The decision for the course of study was prepared by traveling to Czechoslovakia (1965) and the Soviet Union (1966) and the student movement , the dissolution of which he witnessed at the FU: in the Red Cell Slavic Studies, in the first articles for the anarchist magazine Agit 883 , in the spontaneous proletarian left / party initiative and from 1972 to 1980 continuously in the Maoist- oriented KPD organizational structure and its communist student association KSV , whose central organ "Diening the People" he headed temporarily in Dortmund and Cologne. Based on the experience of these years, together with Willi Jasper and Bernd Ziesemer, he published the volume "Party broken: The failure of the KPD and the crisis of the left" in 1980 . In 1981 he completed his studies at the FU with his dissertation on workers' conflicts in the post-Stalin Soviet Union and in 1982 went to the Lomonossow University in Moscow as a scholarship holder of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) , where he focused on the history of the Russian intelligentsia employed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

After his return, Schlögel worked as a private scholar and freelance writer for the radio, published in the series of publications of the Federal Institute for East Scientific and International Studies (BIOSt) in Cologne and wrote for various newspapers, including Rheinischer Merkur , Tagesspiegel , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Zeit . In 1984 Wolf Jobst Siedler published the book “Read Moscow”, written in Moscow, and in 1985 he took up with his essay “The center is eastward. The Germans, the Lost East and Central Europe ”entered the debate about the changes in Central Europe, and in 1989 Siedler also published“ Beyond the Great October. Petersburg 1909–1921. Laboratorium der Moderne ”, for which he had researched in Moscow and Leningrad.

In 1990 he was offered the newly established professorship for Eastern European History at the University of Konstanz , where he taught from 1990 to 1994 and began his research project on Russian emigration in Germany. In 1995 he took over the professorship for Eastern European History at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder , which was founded in 1991 , where he stayed until his retirement in 2013. From 2003 to 2005 he was Dean of the Faculty of Cultural Studies. With the start of work on the Viadrina, the history of Poland and German-Polish relations, especially the Oder region, as well as basic questions of cultural-scientific theory and method moved into Schlögel's focus.

Schlögel's teaching and research activities included numerous fellowships and research stays: in Leningrad in 1987 (DFG), in the USA in 1986, 1988 ( German Marshall Fund ), a habilitation grant in 1989 (DFG), senior fellow at the Collegium Budapest 2000/2001, visiting fellow on St Antony's College Oxford 2002, scholarship at the Historical College in Munich 2005/2006, fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Social Studies (SCASS) in Uppsala 2006/2007, fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2010/2011, scholarship from the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation Munich 2013/2014, Senior Fellow of the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) Vienna 2015. Travel as a form of world exploration, especially the regions relevant to his work, is an integral part of his curriculum - they took him to Czechoslovakia (since 1965), the Soviet Union ( regularly since 1966), the Baltic States and Poland, to Southeastern Europe including Turkey, to the USA (regularly since 1969), the PR China (several times since 1978) - which is also reflected in his publications.

Outside of the university, Schlögel contributed conceptually to the preparation of exhibitions: “Moscow-Berlin / Moskva-Berlin” in 1995 in the Gropiusbau in Berlin (together with Fritz Mierau ), the exhibition “Oder-Panorama / Panorama Odry - Images of a European Stream” in 2006 in Frankfurt an der Oder (then in numerous Polish cities), the exhibition "Via Regia" in Görlitz 2012.

Schlögel was a member of the Academia Artium et Scientiarum (which he left in 2008), the Association of German Historians, the Advisory Board of the Scholarship Program of the Zeit-Stiftung Gerd and Ebelin Bucerius, the Scientific Advisory Board of the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst and the Research Center for Eastern Europe at the University of Bremen. He was temporarily co-editor of the magazines "Rossica" (Prague) and "East Central Europe" (Budapest). Schlögel is a member of the PEN Center Germany and a member of the jury for the award of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Association . In 2009 and 2013, respectively, he gave the laudation for the Peace Prize winners Claudio Magris and Swetlana Alexijewitsch in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt .

Karl Schlögel is married to the author and publicist Sonja Margolina and lives in Berlin.


Unlike many representatives of his subject, Schlögel sees living contemporary not as an obstacle to objective historiography, but as an essential condition. It is through them that the object is actually constituted. Schlögels topics are more likely to be derived from a biographical experience than from the logic of research.

The preoccupation with topics such as the refugee movement and diaspora, terror and ideology, intelligentsia and bourgeois society were triggered by direct encounters with refugees and emigrants of the post-war period, with the Eastern European dissidents, but also by dealing with one's own political practice. This is the reason for the skepticism about a history supposedly driven by ideas and ideologies and the turn to the analysis of forms of pre-political material and everyday culture.

In Schlögels eyes, a phenomenological approach has proven to be productive, which was first tested in “Read Moscow”: the built world, the urban space, as a palimpsest that can be deciphered. It is no coincidence that in the following period all major studies were site-centered, but not in the sense of local history, but rather the city was seen as an analytical meso-level and historical microcosm. The rehabilitation of the spatial dimension for historiography is the topic of the theoretical work “In space we read the time” (2003) the consequences for the structural forms of historical narration are described in the book “Terror und Traum. Moscow 1937 ”(2008), while a generalizing theory of historical narrative in a“ narrative of simultaneity ”is only available as a draft.

Schlögel insists that the structural forms of narration are not primarily a question of rhetoric or literary style, but primarily an epistemological one (2011). In this context, he has presented a wide-ranging and diverse work in which the essay is of central importance as a tentative, exploratory genre. “The middle lies eastward” (1985) opened the view to a cultural world that had long been in the blind spot of perception. The portraits of cities in Central and Eastern Europe (2001), written over two decades, also belong in this context.

The history of the Russian diaspora was processed in a systematic form of a multi-year research project - funded by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology; the “archival revolution” in Russia made it possible for several volumes on the subject, including a synthetic study of Russian Berlin (1998), to appear.

The location of the European University Viadrina suggested looking into the history of forced migrations and border shifts in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Schlögels' attempt, together with Götz Aly , to have a larger research project emerge from a research college and an international conference in 1996 failed because it was rejected by experts from the DFG - this at a time when the topic was both in Poland and in Germany there was passionate discussion and there was a need for historical clarification.

Schlögel has worked through Russian history continuously, but centered on certain nodes and nodes. Saint Petersburg as the center of Russian modernism (1988), the Russian Berlin of the interwar period as the intersection of German-Soviet relations (1998). Moscow in the Year of the Great Terror 1937 (2008) - monographs that were praised for their readability even beyond a narrow specialist audience and, for example, Some have been translated into several languages.

During his time as an academic teacher, Schlögel tried to develop the excursion into a methodologically strict form of perception and scientific reflection. Examples include excursions to Lodz (Manchester des Ostens 1995), Kaliningrad / Königsberg (history of a twin city 1996), Lublin , Rzeszów , Zamość (culture of the Shtetl 2000), to the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal , to Solowki (monastery island and birthplace of the Gulag 2001) and Saint Petersburg (History takes place 2003). According to Schlögel, the development of the Oder as a cultural area and the initiation of a city forum for questions about the design of urban space in Frankfurt an der Oder should motivate the students to face the world with open senses and at the same time reflectively.

The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine since then have led Schlögel to deal intensively with the history of Ukraine . He noted that a “German-Russian friendship” had already taken place at the expense of the other former Soviet republics, despite a welcome normalization of relations up to the 2014 crisis.



Editing and translations


Web links

Commons : Karl Schlögel  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. UNIVERSITIES / RED CELLS: High commitment . In: Der Spiegel . No. 41 , 1970 ( online ).
  2. with Willi Jasper and Bernd Ziesemer: Party broken: The failure of the KPD and the crisis of the left. Olle & Wolter, Berlin 1980.
  3. The unruly hero. Workers' protest in the Soviet Union (1953–1983). Junius Verlag, Hamburg 1984.
  4. Natalia Lechtchenko. Moscow, Book Review, In: Russian Review. vol. 65, no.4 (October 2006), pp. 716-717.
  5. ^ Dietrich Geyer: Mysterium of the North. Stroll through important books on the history of St. Petersburg. In: The time. March 15, 2003, pp. 53-54; Wolfgang Kasack: Review of Petersburg. The laboratory of modernity. In: Yearbooks for the History of Eastern Europe. 52 (2004), H. 1, pp. 110-111.
  6. Laudation on the award of the Peace Prize 2009 to Claudio Magris.
  7. ^ Conversation with Karl Schlögel / Walter Sperling / Alexander Kraus: "Adventure of Life". Karl Schlögel on visualizing history. In: zeitblicke. 9, No. 2, (August 27, 2010). Ulrich Raulff: Between space and reality. Karl Schlögel hooks up with Herodotus and Benjamin to avoid Schmitt. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. October 6, 2003, literature supplement p. 38; Jürgen Osterhammel: Down from the high seat of reading! In: The time. October 9, 2003, literature supplement p. 85 f.
  8. Christoph Albrecht: Materialistic shot at the bow of the story. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. November 7, 2003, literature supplement; Katharina Kucher, Gregor Thum, Sören Urbansky (eds.): Silent Revolutions. The new formation of the world since 1989. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 2013.
  9. Ulrich Raulff: Between space and reality. Karl Schlögel hooks up with Herodotus and Benjamin to avoid Schmitt. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. October 6, 2003, literature supplement p. 38; Jürgen Osterhammel: Down from the high seat of reading! In: The time. October 9, 2003, literature supplement p. 85 f .; Christoph Albrecht: Materialistic shot at the bow of history. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. November 7, 2003, literature supplement.
  10. Stephen Lovell: The Dzhaz Age. In: London Review of Books. Vol. 36, No. 14, July 15, 2014, pp. 34-35 .; Paul M. Hagenloh, Moscow 1937 In: The American Historical Review. vol. 119, issue 4, pp. 1215-1217.
  11. ^ Karl Schlögel: Map reading, spatial thinking. About a renewal of historiography. In: Mercury. Journal of European Thought. Issue 4, April 2002, 56th year, pp. 308-318.
  12. Karl Schlögel: Narratives of the Simultaneity or The Limits of the Tellability of History. In: Mercury. Journal of European Thought. Issue 746, July 2011, 65th volume, pp. 583-595.
  13. Hans Lemberg: View into the near distance. Karl Schlögels early rediscovery of East Central Europe. In: Jürgen Danyel, Jan-Holger Kirsch, Martin Sabrow (eds.): 50 classics of contemporary history. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, pp. 192–195.
  14. Gustav Seibt: Body in the ocean. In: Literatures. 1/2, 2004, pp. 60-62.
  15. Russian Diaspora Wolfgang Kasack, The Great Exodus. Review of 3 volumes. ; Anna Reznicenko, Review of "Chronicle of Russian Life", In: Modest A.Kolerov (Ed.): Studies in Russian Intellectual History. Tri Quadra, Moscow 2002, pp. 831-835; Alexander Dallin, Review of “The Great Exodus”, In: Slavic Review. vol. 55, no. 2/1996; Jan C. Behrends, review of Berlin, Ostbahnhof.
  16. Europe emerged from a tumult of flight and resettlement. Conversation with Karl Schlögel, In: Universitas. Journal for interdisciplinary science. 55th year, March 2000, No. 645, pp. 290-298.
  17. Benjamin Schwarz: Moscow under Terror. In: The Atlantic. March 2013.
  18. On the excursion to Saint Petersburg in 2003, cf. the report Back to Sensuality in Historical Research? In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 27./28. September 2003, pp. 54/54.
  19. ^ Schlögel: Praise of the crisis. Ukraine and the speechlessness of historians. In: Katharina Raabe, Manfred Sapper (Ed.): Test case Ukraine. Europe and its values. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2015, pp. 165–176.
  20. ^ The dangerous new love of Germans for Russia , Die Welt, July 3, 2016; "German feelings of guilt only towards the Russians (but not towards the other peoples of the Soviet Union)"
  21. Russian Diaspora Wolfgang Kasack, The Great Exodus. Review of 3 volumes.
  22. Wissenschaftskolleg awards Krüger Prize to historian Karl Schlögel.
  23. ^ Ceremonial awarding of the Georg Dehio Book Prize 2004 to Karl Schlögel and Gregor Thum. ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  24. Karl Schlögel receives Hoffmann Prize . In: Wolfsburger Allgemeine. March 15, 2012.
  25. ^ Idw Informationsdienst Wissenschaft press release of October 29, 2012 , accessed on October 29, 2012.
  26. ^ Website of the Voice of Russia from December 6, 2013.
  27. Interview with Schlögel . In: Der Spiegel . No. 19 , 2014 ( online ).
  28. Terror and Dream in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of July 8, 2016, p. 9
  29. Karl Schlögel receives the Prize of the Historical College 2016