The Friends of the University of Potsdam was founded in February 2019 to support teaching and research activities in the field of military and violent history at the University of Potsdam.
A particular concern is the promotion of the English-language Master's programme International War Studies, which the University of Potsdam offers together with University College Dublin. The only bi-national course of study of its kind in the world is intended to contribute to a better understanding of the emergence and termination of military conflicts, the dynamics of violence triggered by them, and the relationship between the military and society.
The association continues to promote projects and events for the exchange of views between society, business and the humanities.
Welcome Ceremony for Incoming Students and Farewell of Graduates 2023
On October 16, the Chair of War Studies celebrated its annual welcome ceremony to usher in the new academic year. As in the years before, we welcomed the incoming cohorts at the University of Potsdam, bade farewell to our graduates, and awarded prizes and scholarships.
In the Master’s degree programs “War and Conflict Studies” (WCS) and “International War Studies” (IWS) the Chair was able to welcome a total of 35 incoming students and say goodbye to another 35 graduates. Prof Dr Sönke Neitzel congratulated the incoming students on their decision to come up to Potsdam and the graduates on their successful completion of their studies. The Dean of Studies of the Faculty of Arts, Prof Dr Monika Fenn, read out the graduate certificates of the graduates who were present during the ceremony.
The Association of Friends of the Chair of War Studies was able to award two merit scholarships of 7,000 EUR each for excellent students of IWS: Ms Penelope Wessel from Germany as well as Mr Stephen Crowley from Ireland have passed their first year of study of the double degree with flying colors, and traveled back to University College Dublin after the ceremony where they are spending their second year of study. In collaboration with the Kinderstiftung Kreuzberg the Chair was happy to broker a social scholarship that represents a big help for the student in question in securing the funding for her tuition. Thank you very much.
This year, the prize for best graduate of the past year went to Ms Sarah Westvik (IWS), who graduated with the greatest success and with the best possible grade. In her moving speech she took us from her first academic experiences in Singapore to her graduate studies in Dublin and thanked her student peers as well as the lecturers who guided her. Ms Westvik had already won a merit scholarship for IWS the year before. We congratulate her on this great achievement!
The evening ended with pretzels and red wine on the magnificent terrace of the Philosophicum, where students, lecturers and guests could again engage in informal chats. As every year the Association of Friends of the Chair of War Studies deserves our heartfelt gratitude – for the support of this event, as also for the funding of the prize for best student and both merit scholarships. Through this support, the Association of Friends contributes greatly to the success of both MA programs run by the Chair.
High-Profile Event on Security Policy
A high-profile panel discussion on “A new security policy strategy of the Federal Government?“ took place in Building 9, Room 1.12 of the Neues Palais campus of the University of Potsdam on 8 June 2023, 5 pm.
Russia has been waging war against Ukraine since February 2022. At the same time, the relationship between China and the western world has deteriorated. Consequently, an intensive debate is raging on how German foreign and security policy has to change to be able to react to the challenges the future holds. The Federal Government has announced a new National Security Strategy for 2023. It will be based on a “broad concept of security”. This raises questions: – What are the foreign and security interests of Germany? – How will the “broad concept of security” be defined? – What implications will this have for the Bundeswehr? – Which role will Germany play in the framework of NATO and the Common Security Policy of the European Union?
Discussants were Michael Schwarfschwerdt, Director of the Policy Planning Staff of the Foreign Office, Lieutenant-GeneralKai Rohrschneider, Department Head Command Armed Forces in the Federal Ministry of Defence, Knut Abraham, Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the German Bundestag and Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Sönke Neitzel, Professor for Military History and Cultural History of Violence at the University of Potsdam. Stephan Raabe, Representative of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for Brandenburg State, opened the discussion.
Unfortunately, the strategy had not been published at the time of the discussion. While all panelists agreed that deficits existed in the strategic foresight and the “strategizing ability” of the Federal Government, it was Scharfschwerdt who pointed to the institutionalization process that this first national security strategy of the Federal Government will trigger. He hoped that the government would update this “umbrella document” once every four years. This would institutionalize the strategic discourse and lead to more coherence between the strategy processes of the individual cabinet-level ministries. Rohrschneider emphasized that the armed forces were also “no strategy-free zone”, given that strategic decisions would be taken also beneath the high political level of the defense ministry. Abraham explicitly welcomed the strategy process but worried about a dilution of the concept of security if too many policy areas beyond civil protection and emergency management should be included in the concept of comprehensive security.
This event was jointly organized by the Chair of War Studies at the University of Potsdam and the Political Education Forum Brandenburg of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and in cooperation with the Potsdam Section of the Association for Security Policy (GSP), the German Atlantic Association as well as the Brandenburg Section of the Association of Reservists of the German Bundeswehr.
A New Cohort Goes Up:
Opening Ceremony of the Academic Year and Awards
The Chair of War Studies welcomed the incoming students of its MA programs in International War Studies (IWS) and War and Conflict Studies (WCS) on 14. Oktober 2022. Over 60 students, parents, partners and friends were in attendance. The ceremony opened the new academic year with the usual pomp and circumstance: Prof. Dr. Sönke Neitzel warmly welcomed the incoming students and bade farewell to the outgoing cohort. Prof. Dr. William Mulligan, Head of the School of History at University College Dublin which is UP’s partner university for the double degree in International War Studies, also send a short welcome message by video.
Ms. Irene Sánchez Cózar was awarded the Chair of War Studies’ annual prize for best graduate. It includes a ring inscribed with the year of graduation and a prize money of 500 EUR as a recognition of this exceptional accomplishment. Ms. Sánchez, an IWS veteran who had already won last year’s UP tuition scholarship for UCD, has graduated with the best grade average ever since the inception of the WCS program in 2015. In her acceptance speech, she impressed upon her fellow students the responsibility her generation bears for making the world a safer and better place by understanding war and conflict so that humanity might take away the right lessons from history so as not to repeat past mistakes that have unleashed the hounds of war.
For the first time, the Chair was able to award two scholarships of 7.000 EUR each to help pay for the tuition fees for the Dublin year UCD. The scholarships are awarded on a merit basis as well and were won by Mr. Lukas Joselewitsch and Ms. Sarah Westvik respectively, two outstanding IWS students. Professor Neitzel thanked the benefactors at the Association of Friends of the Chair of War Studies for their sustained commitment to the MA programs, which – among many other things – includes supporting promising IWS students through a scholarship. The second scholarship was made possible by a generous grant by the consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Prof. Dr. Ilse Wischer, Deputy Student Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Potsdam, then hailed all outgoing students and presented each of them with a certificate of completion. She also read out the titles of the MA theses written in Potsdam and Dublin which showed the impressive range of academic interests our students bring to their programs.
The evening ended with snacks and sparkling wine on the terrace of the Communs, with magnificent views of the New Palace at sunset. We congratulate the awardees for their sustained efforts and academic excellence and wish all of our new students a great start into the university year. Welcome to UP!
The colloquium of the DFG Research Group "Military Cultures of Violence - Illegitimate Military Violence from the Early Modern Period to the Second World War" took place on 9 and 10 February 2023. On the two work-intensive days we were kindly supported again by the Förderverein.
IBAN: DE 2866 0908 0000 0704 1934
Förderverein des Lehrstuhls für Militärgeschichte e.V.
Prof. Dr. Sönke Neitzel