Military History Research Office

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Military History Research
Office - MGFA -

COA MilGeschFA Potsdam.svg

internal association badge
active January 1, 1957 to December 31, 2012
Country Flag of Germany.svg Germany
Armed forces Bundeswehr Kreuz.svg armed forces
Organizational area Bundeswehr Kreuz.svg Force Base
Insinuation COA SKA.svg Armed Forces Office
Location DEU Potsdam COA.svg Potsdam
Former locations DEU Langenau COA.svg Langenau near Ulm Freiburg im Breisgau
DEU Freiburg im Breisgau COA.svg
Last head of office Colonel Hans-Hubertus Mack

The Military History Research Office ( MGFA ) of the Bundeswehr was the largest historical institute in Germany . As military service and establishment of departmental research of the Federal and operating, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Defense , military history research. The MGFA was a central military service and, since October 1, 2000, part of the then newly established military organization area Armed Forces Base . It was subordinate to the Armed Forces Office . The institute was formally dissolved on December 31, 2012 and, together with the Social Science Institute of the Bundeswehr, was transferred to the Bundeswehr Center for Military History and Social Sciences, which was set up on the following day .


With broad- based basic research on military history , the MGFA made a contribution to historical education in the armed forces and provided expertise for political leadership and military leadership as well as for the scientific and general public at home and abroad. To do this, it applied the rules and standards of general history .

With the “Department of Training, Information and Specialized Studies” it was a direct service provider for military-historical training and further training in the Bundeswehr. The focus of historical research recently included the history of the First World War - on the occasion of the imminent 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war in 1914, research on the history of the NVA and the Bundeswehr, as well as the "Bundeswehr in action".

The seat of the Military History Research Office was the Villa Ingenheim in Potsdam . The last head of the MGFA was Colonel Hans-Hubertus Mack , who took over from Colonel Hans Ehlert in March 2010 .

The MGFA was a member of the working group of departmental research institutions .


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First coat of arms of the Military History Research Office


A head of office and a "senior historian" have run the MGFA together since 1968. For a long time, the position of chief historian was on an equal footing with the head of office; he heads the research department and until 1994 reported directly to the Ministry of Defense. This relative independence should make it possible to freely determine the guidelines for research. Andreas Hillgruber became the first head of the research department . His successor was Rainer Wohlfeil for a short time . The historian and lawyer Manfred Messerschmidt held this position for almost twenty years from 1970. Wilhelm Deist took over this position in 1988 . He also directed the publication of the collective work " The German Reich and the Second World War ", the first volume of which appeared in 1978 and the last volume 10 of which the MGFA published in 2008. Deist's successor was Hans-Erich Volkmann as head of the research department. After his retirement in 2003, this position was filled by Beatrice Heuser , who moved to the University of the Armed Forces in Munich in 2005 , where she took leave of absence until 2010 for a teaching post in the United Kingdom. The position of head of the research department was temporarily held by Colonel Winfried Heinemann. On February 1, 2009 Michael Epkenhans took over the management of the research department, again with a B2 salary. Epkenhans is a specialist in WWI history with a focus on naval history. The last head of office, Colonel Hans-Hubertus Mack, had studied education and had received his doctorate with a study on "Humanistic mentality and educational efforts using the example of Heinrich Loriti Glarean 1488–1563". Before him were among others such renowned military historians as Colonel i. G. Hans Meier-Welcker, Captain Werner Rahn and Colonel Hans G. Ehlert Head of Office.

Heads of office

"Leading Historians"


The Military History Research Office researches German military history and publishes the research results, prepares them pedagogically and didactically and makes them available to the armed forces as teaching materials. It makes historical contributions for political education and the maintenance of traditions in the armed forces.

It conceives, designs and supervises traveling exhibitions within and outside the Bundeswehr and conducts conferences and training courses on German and international military history . In accordance with the instructions of the General Inspector of the Bundeswehr on March 19, 1999, the MGFA supports the development of military history collections of the Bundeswehr through museums. For this purpose, the Military History Museum in Dresden as an independent military service with a branch at Berlin-Gatow airfield (assigned to the MHM as a sub-unit since 2010) is subordinate to the MGFA in terms of technical and troop service.

The current publications of the MGFA were the scientific journal Military History Journal (MGZ) ( ISSN  0026-3826 at R. Oldenbourg Verlag), which is now also available in an online version, the popular scientific journal Military History - Journal for Historical Education ( ISSN  0940- 4163 ) as well as the monographic series Contributions to Military History .

The guides to history offer historical, political and cultural orientation knowledge about crisis regions. So far, volumes on Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Horn of Africa, the Caucasus, Kosovo, Congo, the Middle East, Sudan, North Africa, Horn of Africa, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, some in a third revised edition, are available. An overview of the Bundeswehr missions abroad completes the series. It is aimed at soldiers deployed abroad and is intended to contribute to the preparation of the armed forces training.

Another area of ​​responsibility is the processing of inquiries from the armed forces, academia and the interested public on German military history, as well as the preparation of military history studies and reports for the Federal Ministry of Defense and other federal and state authorities. It also supports Bundeswehr agencies in preparing historical field meetings and examples from the history of the war.

Research results are published. This includes the series Operations of the Second World War: Volume 1: Hans-Martin Ottmer, "Weser Exercise" The German attack on Denmark and Norway in April 1940 Volume 2: Karl-Heinz Frieser "Blitzkriegslegende" The Western Campaign in 1940

Research priorities

After the leadership change to Mack and Epkenhans, the main research areas were redesigned. The focus “Bundeswehr in action” deals with the restructuring of the Bundeswehr since 1990 and the associated missions abroad. There are restrictions on researching foreign missions and their publication because many internal sources are classified as classified information ("VS-CONFIDENTIAL" or higher). Further fields of research are the change in the image of war from the end of the Cold War to the fight against terrorism, the organization and internal development of the armed forces, the security architecture in the alliance as well as the constitutional and international legal framework for operations.


The MGFA is run as a military office and is divided into two scientific departments, the editorial department and an administration and support area with around 100 employees. The Research Office also maintains a library and specialist information point, which is open to researchers and visiting scholars at the Office as well as to all external users. With over 240,000 volumes and 200 regularly updated journals, the MGFA library is the largest special library of military history in the German-speaking area.

Until 2012, the research department was divided into the departments “General Military History until 1914 and General Topics”, “Age of World Wars”, “Military History of the Federal Republic” and “Military History of the GDR”.

At MGFA, there were 14 posts in the higher service for civil servant scientists and 24 posts for historians officers who had completed their habilitation, doctoral studies or were doctoral candidates. Two thirds of the scientific staff worked in the research department, one third in the training, information and specialist studies department (AIF).


The Military History Research Office answered inquiries from private individuals and the media about German military history within the framework of free capacities. The inquiries covered a broad spectrum, for example the verification of the operational areas of troop units and of air strikes on the civilian population, support for research and exhibition projects inside and outside the Bundeswehr as well as information on military studies including uniform studies . Up to 2500 pieces of information were given each year.


The Military History Research Office did not have its own archive at its location in Potsdam. For its work, it was therefore dependent on the holdings of the Federal Archives-Military Archives (BArch-MA) in Freiburg im Breisgau . The BArch-MA was reorganized in Freiburg in 1968 and then took over the military files that were returned to the MGFA by the USA, Great Britain and France and that they had captured in the Second World War . The MGFA was founded in Langenau near Ulm in 1957, relocated to Freiburg in 1958 and, after Germany's reunification, to Potsdam in 1994.


  • Martin Rink : 50 years of the Military History Research Office. A chronicle . Ed .: Military History Research Office. be.bra, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-937233-47-5 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ History of MGFA. In: Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr . Retrieved April 5, 2020 .
  2. 5 target positions A 16, 10 target positions A 15 according to the position plan 2005 in the statement on the Military History Research Office (MGFA) (PDF; 264 kB) of the Science Council , p. 65.
  3. Inquiries to the MGFA with contact address and contact person

Coordinates: 52 ° 23 '10.9 "  N , 13 ° 1' 32.6"  E