Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V. [Society for Exile Research]

Logo Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V. [Society for Exile Research]

Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V.

Huttenstraße 2

97072 Würzburg

Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V. [Society for Exile Research]

The Gesellschaft für Exilforschung [Society for Exile Research] was founded in Marburg on 25 April 1984, in the first instance as the German branch of the then Society for Exile Studies, Inc., which was officially founded in the USA one year previously and is now known as the North American Society for Exile Studies. By now a recognised independent, non-profit organisation, the Gesellschaft continues to cooperate with the American society. There was significant demand among migrants and exiles for the establishment of both associations.

The aim of the Gesellschaft is three-fold: to come to terms in an interdisciplinary way with the complex problem of emigration and exile from German-speaking central Europe; to impart knowledge about the political, scientific, cultural and artistic achievements of exiles and returning emigrants; and to promote the dialogue between researchers, persons concerned, following generations, interested parties and organisations, and the public. Following Macx Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, it is not a matter of “the conservation of the past, but the redemption of the hopes of the past”.

Within the Gesellschaft für Exilforschung [Society for Exile Research], the study group “Women in Exile” arose at the end of the 1980s, which sees itself as a loose alliance of female researchers and students from the arts and social sciences as well as witnesses of the times, and which works on exile using gender-differentiated perspectives.

Current migration movements, and the various political and social reasons for them, provide new tasks for exile research. References to historical exile can contribute to sensitising present-day political and humanitarian asylum practices and to a better understanding of the social, cultural and political problems accompanying the current processes of migration, integration and acculturation. Conferences and publications mark approaches to dealing with this complex of issues. These include Exile im 20. Jahrhundert (tr. Exile in the 20th Century), Übersetzung als transkultureller Prozess (tr. Translation as a Transcultural process), Metropolen des Exils (tr. Metropolises of Exile), Exil (tr. Exile), Entwurzelung (tr. Uprooting), Hybridität und Familiengeschichte(n). Erfahrungen und Verarbeitung von Exil im Leben der Töchter (tr. Hybridity and Family History/ies. Experiences of and Working through Exile in the Life of the Daughter).

The research questions identified and the historical and current political and cultural contexts allow the identification of interconnections between exile research and social, cultural and historical studies.

In future, one wish of the Gesellschaft für Exilforschung [Society for Exile Research] will be to bring to bear in a more sustained way the results and findings of exile research in the areas of public institutions of education and communication, at the Federal level but also internationally.

Facts and figures

The Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V. [Society for Exile Research] has around 260 individual members and seven paying institutions in 19 countries as of 2013; there is reciprocal membership with further institutions and societies (publication exchange). Through the feature of “work-in-progress” presentations at its conferences and PhD workshops, the Gesellschaft für Exilforschung [Society for Exile Research] wishes to interest and support a new generation of exile researchers.

Current projects

The multi-day, international and interdisciplinary conferences that are set up in cooperation with other institutes support both research and direct communication. This takes place in the framework of the annual meeting of members of the Gesellschaft für Exilforschung [Society for Exile Research] in spring, and the conferences organised by the working-group “Women in Exile” in autumn.

Publications (selection):

The international exile research yearbook  has been published  since 1983 at the behest of the Society for Exile Research [Gesellschaft für Exilforschung]. Its editors have included Thomas Koebner, Wulf Koepke †, Claus-Dieter Krohn, Erwin Rotermund and Lutz Winckler, while Doerte Bischoff has been editor-in-chief since issue 31. The most recent issue was dedicated to the following subjects:

Exilforschung – Ein internationales Jahrbuch – Band 28/2010: Gedächtnis des Exils – Formen der Erinnerung
Exilforschung – Ein internationales Jahrbuch – Band 29/2011: Bibliotheken und Sammlungen im Exil
Exilforschung – Ein internationales Jahrbuch – Band 30/2012: Exilforschungen im historischen Prozess
Exilforschung – Ein internationales Jahrbuch – Band 31/2013: Dinge des Exils

Until 2007, the working Women in Exile group [Frauen im Exil] documented its conferences in nine anthologies and has been publishing the Women and Exile series [Frauen und Exil] since 2008. The most recent publications were:

Häntzschel, Hiltrud/Hansen-Schaberg, Inge (Hg.): Alma Maters Töchter im Exil – zur Vertreibung von Wissenschaftlerinnen und Akademikerinnen in der NS-Zeit. Bd. 4, München 2011
Hansen-Schaberg, Inge / Thöner, Wolfgang / Feustel, Adriane (Hg.): Entfernt: Frauen des Bauhauses während der NS-Zeit – Verfolgung und Exil. Bd. 5, München 2012
Häntzschel, Hiltrud / Asmus, Sylvia / Goetzinger, Germaine / Hansen-Schaberg, Inge (Hg.): Auf unsicherem Terrain – Briefeschreiben im Exil. Bd. 6, München 2013

To view the contents of these publications as well as the international yearbook, see The bi-annually published Neue Nachrichtenbrief (NNB), whose chief editor was Patrik von zur Mühlen for more than 20 years, is now edited by Katja Zaich; it is published and archived on the homepage as a pdf file. The predecessor of the NNB was the Newsletter edited by Ernst Loewy † from 1983, which was published as a reprint by Saur Verlag in 1995.

1998 saw the release of the Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration 1933-1945, published by Claus-Dieter Krohn, Patrik von zur Mühlen, Gerhard Paul and Lutz Winckler.