The staff of the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History regularly provide their historical expertise in the form of evaluations for public authorities, the courts, and civil society organizations.

Consulting has been one of the institute’s core competences from its very beginnings. Particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, IfZ historians supported the civil and legal authorities in their prosecution of Nazi crimes and war crimes, providing them with evaluations of the workings, structures, and personnel of the Nazi regime. Through 1958, the IfZ submitted an average of 150 such evaluations each year. This number reached up to 600 each year, beginning in 1958, when the trials of concentration camp and extermination camp personnel as well as members of SS Einsatzgruppen began to be prepared and carried out.

The IfZ has also provided expertise in more recent times in cases such as the legal dispute over pensions for people who had lived in ghettos. Other high-profile cases included the war crimes trials of John Demjanjuk and Oskar Gröning, in which the courts made use of expert evaluations provided by IfZ historians.

With the passing of the war generation, this sort of expertise has however been much less at the center of activity. Greater emphasis is now placed instead on historical expertise concerning current issues dealing with the long shadow of National Socialism. This includes, for example, evaluations in which the lives of the founders and namesakes of institutions and the like are posthumously scrutinized for Nazi connections.

The expertise provided at IfZ has also played a major role in coming to terms with right-wing extremism. This includes evaluations, in which the current ideology, songs, and symbols of extreme right-wing groups and their historical sources are examined for their possible culpability with regard to hate crimes, as well as statements provided to authorities seeking to ban right-wing extremist rallies at symbolic locations.

The person to contact with regard to the expertise provided by the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History is Deputy Director Prof. Magnus Brechtken.

© Institut für Zeitgeschichte