Institut für Zeitgeschichte–Archiv

  • Institute of Contemporary History - Archives
  • Institute for Contemporary History - Archives
  • IfZ
  • IfZ/A

History

The Institute was founded on the initiative of the American Military Government as “Institute for the Investigation of National-Socialist Politics” in 1949. The Institute’s name was changed to “Institute of Contemporary History” in 1952. Another decade later, in 1961, the institute assumed its current administrative and organizational structure as a foundation under public law. It is funded by the Federal Government and six of the German federal states and belongs to the Leibnitz Association, which affiliates 89 independent research institutions of all fields.
Up to the 1970s, most of the research conducted by the Institute focused on National Socialism, the Weimar Republic and the occupation. Since then, however, the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic in their international context have been added to the research agenda.

Archival and Other Holdings

Along with the research departments, a library (over 225,000 volumes) and an archives were established to support the historians. From the beginning, the archives’ mission was to collect primary documents, to process and describe them and to make them accessible to the institute’s historians as well as external researchers. Especially in the first two decades, this was a rather cumbersome task, because the majority of state and other public records, which had been seized by the Allies in 1945, remained in the possession of the United States, Great Britain and Russia.

Witness Accounts (Zeugenschrifttum) [ZS]:
The institute’s researchers tried to compensate this initial lack of official records by collecting documents from and about important individuals and interviewing eye witnesses, especially former military leaders and people who had opposed the National Socialist regime. These collections are subsumed in a group of collections known as “Zeugenschrifttum”. They consist of interviews, interrogation records, affidavits, memories, and correspondence. Consulting these records today, it should be kept in mind that they were usually created after 1945 and often served apologetic purposes. Nonetheless, the collections contain valuable information that might not be found elsewhere. All ZS files have been digitized and almost all can be accessed digitally through the archives’ online database.

State Records [mostly MA, a few ED]:
Even though the IfZ is not responsible for the collection of public records, its archives nonetheless holds vast collections of state records from the Nazi-period. These do not consist of the original documents. Instead, they are composed of copies in paper and on microfilm which the IfZ acquired from the American National Archives before the original German records were turned over to the German Federal Archives in the 1960s. In addition, copies of German records were also procured from Great Britain, the Netherlands as well as some Central Eastern European countries, especially Poland and Czechoslovakia. The collections include records of almost all important state provenances of the German Empire between 1933 and 1945 as well as records of the NSDAP and her organizations.

Court Records [mostly G, some MA]:
The IfZ-Archives hold a nearly complete set of copies of the documents compiled during the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg and the various subsequent cases tried under Control Council law No. 10. The collection consist of minutes, exhibits, and compositions of the prosecution as well as the defense. In addition, copies of records of other important foreign court cases, such as the Eichmann-trial in Israel, are also part of this collection group.
Copies of German court records can also be found at the IfZ. Among those are records of trials conducted against opponents and dissidents of the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, as well as records of proceedings against perpetrators conducted after the war.

Personal Papers [ED, very few MA]:
In addition to public records, the archives soon began to collect personal papers of individuals. Among the numerous collections are papers of former members of the German military, of members of the military and civilian resistance, as well as of victims of the National Socialist regime. In recent years, the archives began to collect papers of private people, for example documents of former Hitler Youth-members and correspondence of common soldiers with their families (Feldpost).

Papers of Associations and Parties/Institutional Records [ED]:
The IfZ also collects records of smaller associations, parties and political or social movements, which do not maintain their own archives.

Topical Collections [ED, very few MA]:
Public records, personal papers, and papers of associations and parties are complemented by topical collections compiled by researches, journalists and individuals.

Manuscripts [mostly MS]:
The archives’ manuscript-collection consists of memories, eye witness-reports and autobiographical material, scripts of radio and television broadcasts as well as theses and dissertations dealing with various aspects of National Socialism.

Maps [Lk]

Posters [P]

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

The database of the archives (http://archiv.ifz-muenchen.de/) can be searched online. It is important, however, to note that, for various reasons, the database does, for various reasons, not contain descriptions for all records held by the IfZ-archives. It is therefore recommended, to put requests to the archives by writing to archiv@ifz-muenchen.de.
Paper finding aids for all collections can be accessed in the archives’ Information Center in Munich.

Conditions of Access

The archives is available for public research. Upon one’ s first visit a registration form has to be filled out in the Information Center. Appointment for the use of archival material in the reading rooms is not necessary. However, if the extensive consultation of an archivist is needed, it is recommended to contact the archives ahead of time.

Sources