Our Profile

The Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) is dedicated to the study of German history within its European and global contexts in the 20th and 21st centuries. The IfZ was originally founded in 1949 as the very first institution for academic research and scholarship on the Nazi dictatorship. Since then, its scope has expanded significantly to include four main topics:

  • Dictatorships in the 20th century
  • Democracies and their historical self-perceptions
  • Transformations in most recent history
  • International and transnational relations

As a non-university research institution, the IfZ is a member of the Leibniz Association and receives its funding from the German federal and state governments.

Research and Outreach

In addition to its research departments in Munich and Berlin, the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History also runs the Dokumentation Obersalzberg educational center and the multi-volume edition project Files on the Foreign Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office. At the IfZ’s headquarters in Munich, scholars research the Weimar Republic and Nazi eras as well as European dimensions of the Nazi dictatorship. Others also study post-war German history and key developments in the Federal Republic of Germany within European and global contexts or look at political and social transformations in Germany and Europe since the 1970s. In 2013, the IfZ also established and developed its international Center for Holocaust Studies. The Munich office is also home to the editorial teams for the IfZ’s different series and journals. Its flagship publication is the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (VfZ). This quarterly is the leading periodical in the field, enjoying the highest circulation of academic history journals in Germany.

The IfZ has also maintained a research office in Berlin since the mid 1990s. Scholars in Berlin investigate the history of the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ), the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and political and social transformations in contemporary German and European history. Additional projects on the Nazi and post-war period, including the large edition project on the Persecution and Murder of the European Jews, are also located at this office. One research section of the IfZ works directly at the Federal Foreign Office. It is responsible for compiling the document edition Files on the Foreign Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany (Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland or AAPD). Each year, the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History publishes a new edited volume containing materials related to German foreign policy, including first releases of formerly confidential documents.

Through the Dokumentation Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, the IfZ also fosters the direct integration of its current research into materials and programs for historical and political education. Commissioned by the Free State of Bavaria, the IfZ curates the permanent exhibition that combines a local history of Hitler’s second seat of government with an overview of key aspects of the Nazi dictatorship. The documentation center also offers special exhibitions, events, and a comprehensive array of educational programming.

The IfZ – A Lively Forum

The IfZ, together with its library and archive in Munich, provides an excellent academic infrastructure for scholarship on contemporary German and international history. The library and archive are open to the public, offering a wide selection of materials and resources. The IfZ’s archivists and librarians also provide personalized support for all kinds of inquiries.

Conferences, lectures and discussions at all IfZ locations ensure close-knit exchange between scholars and the interested public. The IfZ’s networks extend well into the international academic world, bolstered by the continual expansion of its cooperative partnerships with similar institutions worldwide. The IfZ is particularly committed to supporting the advancement of junior scholars. Its efforts include a special program for doctoral candidates as well as courses taught by IfZ staff at universities across Germany.

The Institute for Contemporary History is therefore not only a high-profile research institution, but also a lively forum for debate and outreach.

© Institut für Zeitgeschichte