German History Intersections

Project website estimated to launch Fall 2020

German History Intersections is a new source-based digital project that examines three broad themes – migration, knowledge and education, and "Germanness" – from 1500 to the present. Organized by the German Historical Institute (GHI), Washington, DC, the project aims to move beyond traditional period-driven history, situate Germans and Germany within larger transnational contexts, and use digital media to bring together diverse historical sources in thought-provoking new ways.

By taking a long view, the Intersections project will offer an alternative to standard histories while exploring the ways in which Germans have intersected with other peoples, cultures, and nations over both time and place. Sponsored by the Transatlantic Program of the European Recovery Program (German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy), the Intersections project is geared toward North American, German, and global audiences. Since the featured sources examine complicated themes through the lenses of both past and present, the project lends itself to general educational and classroom use. At the same time, the topicality of the three chosen themes, all of which stand at the forefront of public debate on both sides of the Atlantic, will ensure the project’s relevance among broader audiences.  

If you have questions or comments about this project or would like to get involved, please contact the GHI at

Children at a Berlin-Kreuzberg school in front of a “wall of nations” representing the countries of origin of the student body (1979). Image courtesy of the German Information Center.

Primary Sources

Each of the three modules (migration, knowledge and education, and Germanness) includes a selection of approximately 100 primary-source documents representing a variety of genres. Each document appears in its original language (typically German) and in English translation. Furthermore, each module includes approximately 100 high-resolution images as well as audio and video clips, all of which are carefully attributed and presented as historical sources in their own right. In acquiring these sources, the Intersections team has been able to draw on an extensive network of formal and informal partnerships with various memory institutions. By emphasizing images and multimedia sources, German History Intersections responds to the visual turn in scholarship while appealing to today’s visually attuned student audiences. 


Secondary Sources

The primary sources are accompanied by explanatory background texts, including document abstracts, image captions, and brief introductions to the audio and video clips. Additionally, each module features a long-form scholarly introduction to the given theme. This text approaches the theme from a broad historiographical perspective while providing an overall framework for interpreting the various individual sources. 


Digital Platform

German History Intersections is based on an open-source platform that combines a custom-made presentation layer with an eXist database. All primary source materials will be searchable by author, subject, and keyword. Furthermore, varied and diverse navigational pathways through the site allow users to browse materials in different ways. The Intersections platform combines best practices in the digital humanities (TEI, authority data) with up-to-date technologies.


Project Participants

Just as literal and figurative meeting points between peoples, systems, and networks serve as a guiding thematic focus of German History Intersections, collaboration played an integral role in the editorial work process. Each thematic module was prepared by a four-member working group consisting of junior and senior scholars based in both Germany and North America.  


Deniz Göktürk (University of California, Berkeley)
Dirk Hoerder (Arizona State University & University of Bremen)
Annika Orich (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Sakine Yildiz (University of Osnabrück)

Knowledge and Education

Anne Mariss (University of Regensburg)
Christopher Neumaier (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam & Helmut Schmidt University)
Michael Printy (Yale University)
Jeffrey Zalar (University of Cincinnati)


Winson Chu (University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee)
Hannah Margaret Elmer (Columbia University)
Martina Kessel (University of Bielefeld)
Eva Marie Lehner (University of Duisburg)