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Chair of War Studies

Team of the Chair
Photo: Kai Bublitz Fotoproduktion
Team of the Chair


Professor Sönke Neitzel steht neben Dr. Bastian Matteo Scianna, beide mit Blumensträußen in der Hand
Photo: PhilFak
19.07.2023: Auf dem Fakultätsfest der erhielt Prof. Sönke Neitzel den Lehrpreis der Philosophischen Fakultät und Dr. Bastian Matteo Scianna die Urkunde seiner Habilitation über "Europa ohne Grenzen. Die Entstehung eines europäischen Mobilitätsregimes von der Nachkriegszeit bis zum Schengen Abkommen".
Rege Beteiligung auch beim Empfang nach der Diskussionsrunde
Photo: S. Schöttler
Lively participation also at the reception after the discussion round on 8.6.2023

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.

Blick in den Hörsaal beim Sicherheitspolitischen Event
Photo: S. Schöttler
8.6.2023: High-level panel discussion on "A new security policy strategy for the Federal Government?

about the professorship

The Chair of War Studies is the only one of its kind in Germany. It is dedicated to military history and to the cultural history of violence, and is a central venue of liaison between the university and other research institutions investigating military history, between different methodical approaches within this varied discipline, as well as for the transfer of academic knowledge at both a national and international level. We seek to contribute to making Potsdam, with its history and its orientation towards to the future, more visible internationally as a centre of interdisciplinary war studies.

The Chair addresses military history and the cultural history of violence from the Early Modern Period to the present. It examines the foundations, dynamics and consequences of violent conflicts on the national and international stage. Drawing on interdisciplinary approaches, the Chair analyses how state, society and armed forces interact with one another. Its principal research focus is the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Located at the Chair, moreover, are two study programmes at Master level that are unique in Germany.FAQ Both are interdisciplinary, international and practice-orientated: The MA in War and Conflict Studies is a single degree at the University of Potsdam, in which predominantly German and European students research violent phenomena in the past and the present in small groups. The MA in International War Studies is a double degree programme with University College Dublin, which offers students the possibility of forming networks in the Anglo-Saxon world of war studies and which is aimed above all at an international audience.

Both study programmes combine the ambition to explore the subject of war and conflict in the past and the present from a multitude of different professional and national perspectives. Alongside concrete armed conflicts, the interactions between war and violence, security and stability, conflict and development are hereby illuminated. Our range of courses therefore offers a broad selection from history, political science, sociology and international law: from Clausewitz to cyber wars.

The work of the Chair profits enormously from a variety of partners located both in Potsdam itself and in nearby Berlin. Among the most important academic partners are the Centre for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw), the Federal Archives and the Federal Military Archives. Good working relations exist with the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS), as well as the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the Bundeswehr’s own consulting agency. Think tanks, political foundations and the Berlin-based media actively support us with teaching events and internships. An exceptional relationship continues to exist with the Federal Ministry of Defence, but also with the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which approach the subject of war and conflict from very different perspectives.

The Chair’s online presence is designed to illustrate the entire thematic diversity of the work of the Chair described above. If you are interested in any aspect of our work, do not hesitate to contact us.

Call for Applications
Photo: Christian E. Rieck