The Institute of Contemporary History / Institut für Zeitgeschichte (IfZ) located in Munich was founded in 1949 to study the phenomenon of National Socialism. Today, research at the IfZ encompasses the whole of German contemporary history in its wider European context.
Research is focussed on three main areas: Dictatorships in the 20th century, History of Democracy, Processes of Historical Transformation: Germany and Europe since the 1970s
The IfZ combines excellent research with an outstanding infrastructure: The Institute’s specialized library contains more than 225,000 volumes. Its archives store documents from unofficial sources covering the period since the end of World War I. Both the library and the archives are open to the public and provide online-access to many of their services. The Institute also publishes the quarterly Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Germany’s leading journal in contemporary history.
In the 1990s the IfZ established two departments in Berlin. One department, located at the German Foreign Office, focuses its research on German foreign and international policy and edits the Documents on the Foreign Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. The other department in Berlin took up the Institute’s established research on former East Germany and developed further areas especially in the field of historical transformation. The Institute is also responsible for the research basis and design of the Dokumentation Obersalzberg, Hitler’s second seat of power, which is now a place of guided learning and remembrance with more than 160,000 visitors each year.
Although independent of the university system, the Institute interacts significantly with the academic world. Its scholars hold appointments at universities all over Germany and the IfZ offers various programmes to promote young researchers. The IfZ also has close links with leading institutions abroad, and has built up a broad infrastructure for historical scholarship.