We are extremely glad to welcome Israel as our partner country at the 53rd Deutscher Historikertag 2020, since it finds itself at the center of existential historical and political conflicts of interpretation in a way few other countries do. In choosing Israel as our partner, we seek to underscore the special significance of the history of Israel and the Near East as a whole for the German and European scientific landscape.
Israel and its multi-ethnic society have profoundly affected the region and the often-contested historical space of the Near East. Since Antiquity, this region of the world has been closely connected with European and Near Eastern culture alike – and in myriad ways. As a partner country for scientific exchange, Israel hence offers exceptional potential and countless points of contact across all eras and sub-disciplines.
For historians in particular, however, such cooperation gains particular significance due to the special German-Israeli relationship resulting from the German responsibility for the Holocaust, among other things. Historical engagement with Israel and Jewish history is particularly called for in Germany. The city of Munich in particular is also connected with Israel in many ways. It was here Theodor Herzl planned to convene the first Zionist Congress in 1897, but failed because of the resistance of the German-Jewish community. The National Socialists later declared Munich the “Hauptstadt” of their movement, from which their anti-Semitic policy was to spread. While research centres on German history and culture have existed in Israel for decades, the first academic centre for Israel studies (ZIS) was created only in 2014, at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.
Israeli historians have long been present at Historikertage, as have historical themes and issues relating to the Near East. We look forward to an intensified and fruitful intellectual exchange and lively discussions that can help to deepen our cultural and scientific relationships with Israel by offering new perspectives.