The origins of the BND and „official history“ in Germany – Methods, topics and new sources in contemporary history research on the German Foreign Intelligence Service

  • 17.10.2019
  • 18.00 Uhr
  • Deutsches Historisches Institut Moskau, Voroncovskaja 8/7
  • Vorträge

Talk by Thomas Wolf (Independent Historians' Commission on the History of the Federal Intelligence Service / UHK BND

Book by Thomas Wolf and a review in Die Welt (DE)
Working language: English

Please note, that the German Historical Institute is closed after 6:30 pm.


  • Abstract (eng)

    Approximately over the past ten years, historians in Germany have focused intensively on the origins of the federal republic ministries and agencies timed after the Second World War. Relevant research projects have already been initiated for more than twenty government authorities. On one hand, their focus is providing confirmed knowledge about personal and conceptual continuities with authorities before 1945. On the other hand, they examine the effects of such continuity on official duties in post-war years. Most recently, in a comparative perspective GDR-ministries were al-so included in this field of research. Overall, these projects are characterized by a broad methodological and topical scope.
    The lecture summarizes the development and key results of recent official history on German federal republic authorities. The main focus will be on the research project concerning the history of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). It will present the approaches that have been applied in order to get insights into the cryptic structure, the personnel networks and the clandestine action of the intelligence agency. For this purposes, previously inaccessible intelligence records were disclosed and ex-amined for the first time. Regarding this completely new information basis, the lec-ture concludes by presenting a cultural-historical approach to write a modern official history of the BND. It shows that actions and organisational change can be explored by a combined perspective that reflects internal beliefs and interests as well as the political goal of securing a position for the BND in the emerging West German state and the different external demands in the context of the early cold war.