Research projects

Head of project: Prof. Dr. Friedrich Kießling / Prof. Dr. Christoph Safferling, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

The challenges for the rule of law and democracy in Germany are increasing. A look back at the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the crises of the past 75 years shows that our democracy is more stable than many pessimists would like to admit. Social cohesion during the stormy crises of recent years - financial crisis, refugee crisis, pandemic, Ukraine war - has proven to be resilient. And in a European comparison, it is striking that radical parties can still be kept out of power in Germany. But the challenges are great and only through decisive political action, through a reform of the constitutional state, Germany can remain what it is: a liberal democracy.

The book on this project "Der Streitfall: Wie die Demokratie nach Deutschland kam und wie wir sie neu beleben müssen" will be published by dtv Verlag in March 2024. (Publication from the publisher)

Head of project: Prof. Dr. Friedrich Kießling (research assistant: Yvonne Blomann, M.Ed.) / Prof. Dr. Christoph Safferling, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office was the first in the federal justice system to commission a research study on its past in the early decades of the Federal Republic. The interdisciplinary study was conducted by the historian Professor Dr. Friedrich Kießling from the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Bonn and the legal scholars around Professor Dr. Christoph Safferling from the Chair of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, International Criminal Law and International Law at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Together, the researchers analysed the beginnings of the Federal Public Prosecutor and his department after the Second World War until 1974. Among other things, they clarified how the Federal Public Prosecutor dealt with the personal and political burdens resulting from the “Third Reich”. The main question was how many employees who were incriminated by National Socialism worked in which positions in the early days of the office and what influence, if any, this had on the work of the department. To this end, the Federal Public Prosecutor provided access for the members of the commission to the personnel files of those employed at the office in the first two decades, including those of Wolfgang Fränkel, who was temporarily retired in 1962 only three months after his appointment as Federal Public Prosecutor because of his work at the Office of the Chief Reich Prosecutor during the nazi period and his involvement in death sentences. In addition, the role of the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office in important state protection proceedings, from the early proceedings against communists as well as federal German right-wing radicalism to the Spiegel affair and the first proceedings against the RAF, was examined scientifically for the first time. The results were published in book form by dtv Verlag at the end of 2021 under the title "Staatsschutz im Kalten Krieg". (Publication from the publisher)

Head of project: Prof. Dr. Kießling in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Brummer, Chair of International Relations, University of Eichstätt

The starting point for the conference was the consideration—equally important for political science and history—that a country's foreign relations are not only determined by material quantities like population size, economic power, perhaps also geography, and also not only by classical calculations of power and interests, whether they are determined by foreign or domestic policy, but that another factor is important to be considered, namely socially formed constructions of meaning. In this way, the question of ideas about what position one's own country has or should have in the international system becomes important. The conference that was conducted at the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt on 4th and 5th of May 2018 took up such considerations from political science and history and asked which roles can be historically grasped in the Federal Republic, how they have changed—and thus possibly "normalised"—and what significance they have for today's view of the Federal German position in international relations. In the process, an attempt was made to bring historical and political science considerations stronger than before into an interdisciplinary discussion. (Publication from the publisher)

Head of project: Prof. Dr. Kießling (research assistant i.a.: Christoph Teubner)

In its research, the independent Historical Commission focused on the history of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the context of 20th century German history. In particular, the following aspects were considered: The re-establishment of the Ministry in 1949; the history of its predecessor institutions; the question of continuity or discontinuity in terms of employees and concepts; the attitude towards its predecessor institutions; the role of the associations; the temporally parallel developments in the German Democratic Republic. Professor Kießling's work as a member of the Historical Commission of the Ministry of Agriculture from 2016 to 2020 at the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt aimed to research the re-establishment of the Ministry in 1949 as well as its development during the early years of the Federal Republic until the early 1970s. He was particularly interested in questions of public personnel policy in the post-war period as well as continuities in the history of ideas, questions of factual as well as structural continuity and discontinuity in top federal authorities after 1945, and the beginning Europeanisation of agricultural policy in the early Federal Republic. (Publication from the publisher)

Conferences since 2015

May 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. The fact that we have succeeded in establishing a stable democracy that has endured for three quarters of a century after the civilisational upheaval of the National Socialist dictatorship can be seen as cause for celebration. However, gloomy analyses of the present and correspondingly pessimistic forecasts for the future dampen the celebratory mood: the high degree of social polarisation, the growing appeal of far-right positions, the widespread distance from the European unification process, the fear of globalisation and, finally, disunity and apparent helplessness in the face of the climate crisis call for a critical historical review.

The conference will focus on the four decades of the Bonn Republic. Five approaches will be chosen that seem particularly suitable for arriving at new historical categorisations of this period. In doing so, a perspective that is guided by the problems and challenges of the present will be adopted. In a first approach, the concepts of democracy and the democratic practice of the Adenauer years are at the centre. Secondly, the historical self-positioning of contemporaries in historical politics and the culture of remembrance is analysed. Thirdly, the Federal Republic is analysed in a transnational and international context, before fourthly, the perspective of environmental and energy history raises a question that has preoccupied the German society since the early 1970s at the latest. Finally, in a fifth approach, three comparisons with Western European societies and the GDR will be used to sharpen the contours beyond the purely West German perspective. The conference panels will each focus on one of these perspectives, but will also allow interaction with and benefit from the other perspectives.

The conference will take place on April 9 and 10, 2024 at the University of Bonn, with a panel discussion on April 9, 2024 at the Haus der Geschichte Bonn rounding off the programme (programme and location to follow).

Außenbeziehungen und Erinnerung, Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, 16./17. Mai 2019.

"Interessen oder Ideale? Deutsche Außen- und Europapolitik seit Adenauer". Wissenschaftliches Symposium zum Gedenken an Hans-Peter Schwarz. Veranstaltet von der Stiftung Bundeskanzler-Adenauer-Haus. Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP), Bonn, 2018. Tagungsprogramm

"Die geteilte Nation. Deutsch-deutsche Geschichte 1945-1990", Workshop in Zusammenarbeit mit der London School of Economics, der Gerda Henkel Stiftung und dem Deutschen Historischen Institut London, vom 1.-2. Juni 2017. Tagungsbericht, Tagungsprogramm

"Kirche und Biographien nach 1945". Historisches Symposium des Fördervereins Neuere Geschichte an der Universität Bonn e.V., am 15. Oktober 2016, unter Leitung von Gabriel Rolfes (Bonn) und Simon Oelgemöller, M.A. (Mainz/Bonn) in Bonn. Tagungsprogramm, Konferenzbericht

"Alte Köpfe – neue Ordnung? Personen, Institutionen und politische Kulturen im Nachkriegsdeutschland“ – 28. Rhöndorfer Gespräch der Stiftung Bundeskanzler-Adenauer-Haus am 10. und 11. März 2016, unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Stefan Creuzberger (Universität Rostock) und Prof. Dr. Dominik Geppert. Tagungsprogramm

"Geschichte der Söldner in der Neuzeit". Tagung des Fördervereins Neuere Geschichte an der Universität Bonn e.V., am 30. Oktober 2015, unter der Leitung von Jonas Klein (Bonn). Tagungsbericht

"Neubeginn und Tradition. Monarchiches Erbe in Politik und Staat der DDR und der Bundesrepublik Deutschland". Konferenz, veranstaltet vom RECS der Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg und dem Lehrstuhl Geppert, Abteilung Neue Geschichte der Universität Bonn, am 25./26. September 2015 in Berlin. Tagungsprogramm

"Epochenjahr 1815 - Das Rheinland auf dem Weg nach Preußen." Tagung, veranstaltet vom Landschaftsverband Rheinland und dem Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft der Universität Bonn, am 21./22. September 2015 in Bonn. Tagungsprogramm

"Liberale und linksliberale Interventionisten vom 19. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart". Workshop des Fördervereins Neuere Geschichte an der Universität Bonn e.V., am 6./7. Februar 2015 in Bonn. Tagungsprogramm

„Europa im Ersten Kriegswinter“ zusammen mit der Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Volkshochschule der Stadt Bonn, sowie dem Stadtarchiv und der Stadthistorischen Bibliothek der Stadt Bonn am 28./29. Januar 2015 in Bonn. Tagungsprogramm

PhD Projects

  • "lndividualisierungsprozess demokratisch-kapitalistischer Gesellschaften: Werteverlust oder Emanzipationserfolg" (Seonae Son)
  • "Die UNESCO-Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in den 1970er und 1980er Jahren" (Julia Gehrke), gefördert von der Gerda Henkel Stiftung
  • "Die westdeutsche Konstruktion der "Arabischen Welt". Wahrnehmungskonstruktionen in Öffentlichkeit und Außenpolitik" (Christoph Teubner)
  • "Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski (1922-2005). Eine politische Biographie" (Benedikt Pocha), gefördert von der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
  • "Gliederung und Einsatz der deutschen Heeres-Luftstreitkräfte 1913-1917" (Siegfried Sälzer)
  • "Sozialdemokratie und Monarchie im deutschen Kaiserreich" (Ines Neffgen), Cotutelle mit St. Andrews University, gefördert durch die Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
  • "George Saunders (1859-1922). Medienmacht und Außenpolitik im Zeichen des Empire" (Martin Warnecke)
  • "Die Alliierte Kommandantur Berlin 1945-1955" (Alexander Olenik), gefördert von der Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit
  • "Diplomatie durch Sprache? Deutsch-französische Begegnungen im 20. Jahrhundert" (Yvonne Blomann)
  • "Hans Delbrück und die Preußischen Jahrbücher (1883-1919)" (Jonas Klein)
  • "'Weltmacht China'? Die Volksrepublik China in westdeutschen Weltordnungsdiskursen der 1960er und 1970er Jahre" (Andreas Plöger)
  • Che-Wei Chang: Oskar Trautmann, ein deutscher Diplomat in Ostasien. Individuum, Nation und Diplomatie aus der Perspektive der Globalgeschichte 1877-1950. Druckerei der Universität, Bonn 2021
  • Beule, Peter: Auf dem Weg zur neoliberalen Wende? Die Marktdiskurse der deutschen
    Christdemokratie und der britischen Konservativen in den 1970er-Jahren, Droste, Düsseldorf 2019.
  • Philip Rosin: Die Schweiz im KSZE-Prozeß 1972-1983. Einfluß durch Neutralität (= Bd. 99, Quellen und Darstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, hrsg. vom Institut für Zeitgeschichte), Oldenbourg, München 2014.
  • Johannes Tröger: Kulturkritik und Utopie. Das Denken rechter katholischer Intellektueller in Deutschland und Großbritannien 1918-1939, Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2016.
  • Martin Wroblewski: Moralische Eroberungen als Instrumente der Diplomatie. Die Informations- und Pressepolitik des Auswärtigen Amts 1902-1914, (=Internationale Beziehungen. Theorie und Geschichte, Bd. 12) Bonn University Press, Göttingen 2016.
  • Stefan Brüggemann: Felix von Eckardt als politischer Kommunikator, Druckerei Eberwein OHG, 2016.
  • Andreas Rademachers: Absolution und Neubeginn. Katholische Kirche und Entnazifizierung in der Kölner Kirchenprovinz, Sierke, Göttingen 2017.
  • Andreas Jüngling: Alternative Außenpolitik. Der Freie Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund der DDR und Franco-Spanien (1947-1975), Verlag Dreiviertelhaus GbR, Berlin 2017.
  • Christian Lüdtke: Hans Delbrück und Weimar. Für eine konservative Republik - gegen Kriegsschuldlüge und Dolchstoßlegende (= Schriftenreihe der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd. 99), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2018.
  • Victor Mauer: Brückenbauer. Großbritannien, die deutsche Frage und die Blockade Berlins 1948-1949 (= Veröffentlichungen des Deutschen Historischen Instituts London, Bd. 80), De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston 2018.
  • Benedikt Wintgens: Treibhaus Bonn. Die politische Kulturgeschichte eines Romans (= Beiträge zur Geschichte des Parlamentarismus und der politischen Parteien, Bd. 178), Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 2019.
  • Sabine Deutzmann: Die britische Iranpolitik 1945-1954. Zur Rolle der britischen Botschaft in Teheran (= Politik und Geschichte, Bd. 9), LIT Verlag, Berlin u. a. 2019.
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