German-Israeli Research Cooperation in the Humanities (1970-2000): Studies on Scholarship and Bilaterality

On October 20, 1971 Tel Aviv University inaugurated the Institute for German History. It was the first institute of its kind in Israel.

In the field of natural sciences, initial contacts between German and Israeli scholars had already begun in the mid-1950s, leading to close and successful cooperation. However, scholars in the Humanities approached one another considerably later. Apart from individual encounters between single scholars, it was not until the late 1960s that the introduction of teaching and research in the fields of German History and Literature to the academic curricula was negotiated in Israeli universities. Six years after the institute for German History was founded in Tel Aviv, the Hebrew University established designated chairs for German History and for German Literature and Language.

These initiatives were realized primarily with the support of German funds. These pioneer institutions laid the foundations for establishing ongoing cooperation between German and Israeli scholars in the Humanities: participants on both sides became familiar with the other country as visiting scholars, participating in organized common events, issuing publications and carrying out research projects.

The bilateral research project will focus on the beginnings of German-Israeli research cooperation in the Humanities, especially German Literature and History, up to the year 2000. The very process of establishing those fields of teaching and research among the involved German and Israeli protagonists and institutions will be examined. Besides a comparative outlook, the unique characteristics of each of the relevant institutions will be highlighted and the leading figures, their biographies and their involvement will be recorded in oral history interviews. 

Research questions of the project:

– What might have been the motivations to initiate cooperation in the mentioned topics?

– What sort of impact – concerning both content and methods – did the cooperation with Germany have on the Israeli Humanities?

– Has this research cooperation had any repercussions on West Germany?

The aim of this research project is to ascertain the conditions prior to the establishment of scientific relations and their impact on the processes of knowledge transfer in the field of German-Israeli relations.

The project is a cooperation between the Fritz Bauer Institute in Frankfurt a.M., the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.