Recap: Public History Workshop in Hamburg

Angewandte-Gescgichte_233x69Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg) is home to one of the largest ports of not only Europe, but also the world. Located on the Elbe River in the north of Germany, Hamburg boasts a history that dates back to the 9th century AD. Therefore, Hamburg was the perfect place for historians, public and otherwise – to come together and share, interact, discover and discuss public history in Germany today. The two and a half day workshop (25-27 March, 2015) began with a panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Andreas Etges. Local Hamburg historians, of various backgrounds, debated the problems of communicating history via social media and the meaning of public history, especially within a German context.

AG German PH association 2015

Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Angewandte Geschichte/Public History

Organized in collaboration between Dr. Thorsten Logge and Nico Nolden (Universität Hamburg) and Prof. Dr. Cord Arendes, Dr. Angela Siebold, and Moritz Hoffmann (Universität Heidelberg), the workshop placed a particular emphasis on student participation. Attended by students from Hamburg, Heidelberg, Bremen, Berlin, and Bochum (and beyond), the workshop panels dealt with topics such as teaching public history, collaborative public history projects, and the inherent challenges in balancing theory and praxis in public history programs. Panel discussions offered up interesting insight into the different approaches used in teaching/practicing public history throughout Germany today. Dr. Irmgard Zündorf (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam) lecturer for the public history program at the Freie Universität Berlin – emphasized the challenges of teaching public history. Zündorf claimed that while resentment against public history in Germany is alive and well, public history students are still afforded opportunities that outweigh the inherent risks of the field.  Throughout the rest of the day, debates continued about the integrity of history written for private customers (i.e. corporations) and the alleged exploitation of student labor via internships.
All in all it was an excellent and successful workshop, to say the least. The public history working group of the German Historical Association (Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands) was inspired by the latest IFPH Student and New Professional Committee– and as a result founded a German public history student and young professional initiative at the conclusion of the workshop. The next scheduled meeting of the public history working group in Germany is scheduled to take place at the beginning of November 2015 in Potsdam. If you are feeling confident in your German comprehension skills you can follow the German public history working group on Twitter @AGPublicHistory.

Information is also available at

Courtney Neaveill

Chair of the Student and New Professional Committee



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