Potsdam's History Academy (PHiA) covers the major events and themes of modern German history through the lens of one city: Potsdam – the capital of the federal state of Brandenburg.
The city of Potsdam, located close to Berlin, has hosted the Prussian court since the 18th century, when Prussia became one of the European Great Powers, and was the residential city of the German Kaiser from 1871 to 1918. Its role might be compared to that of Versailles in France.
Potsdam’s historical trajectory offers the unique possibility of simultaneously reflecting on macro-levels of German history and gaining insight knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of a micro-level perspective - all while being on the scene.
Focusing on the development of different aspects on a micro-historical level of one city over the nineteenth and twentieth century the program is able to reflect on macro-levels of modern German history at the same time. Therefore, the history of the city of Potsdam is a nexus to understand the history of Germany from the foundation of Bismarck’s empire in 1871 to the peaceful unification of the two post-war Germanys in 1990.
We will engage with a variety of topics of modern German history, including nationalism and nation-building, dreams of colonial empires, the rise of mass politics and culture, Germany's roles and experiences in two world wars, Nazi racism, the Shoah and a divided country in the Cold War, re-unification and politics/culture of memory.
By focusing on the city of Potsdam, we will be able to explore how political and social relations become embedded in the urban landscape and how historical events leave their marks on the city’s physical and social spaces.
Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to
The Moses Mendelssohn Center for European Jewish Studies (MMZ) was founded in Potsdam in 1992. It is named after the Jewish Englightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). The mission of the interdisciplinary research institute is to further knowledge of Jewish history, philosophy, religion, culture and social sciences. Being associated with the University of Potsdam, the MMZ actively participates in the University of Potsdam’s curriculum. Research projects at the MMZ deal with history, religion and culture of Jews and Jewry in the countries of Europe. Special emphasis is placed on the historical relationship between Jews and their non-Jewish environment. The focus is on Jewish social integration and acculturation, as well as on comparative socio-historical questions (living conditions, geographic and social mobility et al.) and issues in Socio-Cultural and Intellectual History (Literature, Art, Religion, Philosophy, Music).
The Lepsiushaus Potsdam was founded in 1999 and is a unique historical site and research center in Germany. It is named after the humanist and theologian Johannes Lepsius (1859-1926) who lived in Potsdam from 1908. The institute conducts fundamental research in the field of the history of political violence in the 20th century, especially on the Armenian Genocide and the development of German humanitarian movements around 1900. The Lepsiushaus Potsdam presents an exhibition about Johannes Lepsius and the Armenian Genocide, holds an archive on the relief society work for Armenia in the Ottoman Empire and a specialized library with currently 6,500 volumes.