Center for German-American Educational History

The Center for German-American Educational History has been established in January 2014 at the Institut für Erziehungswissenschaft of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Thus, for the first time a German academic institution is dedicated entirely to the exploration of the conditions and processes of transatlantic educational history – from its beginnings in the 17th century up to today. The Center’s research and teaching is focused on the wide scope and special quality of the multifaceted interrelationships between German and American pedagogues, school founders and education-policy makers from the colonial period up to the 21st century.

The Center’s policy of information provision, teaching and research is based on the premise that the development of the different systems of education in Germany and America has been marked by fruitful competition as well as mutual interaction and interference since the Early Modern Period. Both educational systems profit from the knowledge of their entangled and intertwined history. The awareness of a common history sharpens the sense of the fact that there exists indeed a transatlantic community with shared values even with regard to ideals of education – in theory and practice.

Franz von Fürstenberg - the prime minister and founder of the University of Münster (1773) - was in contact with German emigrants in Pennsylvania.
Franz von Fürstenberg - the prime minister and founder of the University of Münster (1773) - was in contact with German emigrants in Pennsylvania.
© IfE

The current ideals of education both in the United States and in Germany are derived from and related to a set of key values propagated in the Age of Enlightenment: Self-responsibility and autonomy of the citizen, religious toleration, individual rights of freedom and a broad general education available to all people as a sign of their human dignity. These values were first formulated in the 18th century as the predominant goals of modern self-education and self-government. They can be traced back to the American Constitution of 1787/88 and they can be detected in the Grundgesetz of 1949, the German post-war Constitution that came into being with the support of United States officials. This is why the Center’s research and teaching has a particular but by no means exclusive emphasis on the early phase of German-American educational history in the Age of Enlightenment.

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Book of the Month - December 2017

William Dieterle und die deutschsprachige Emigration in Hollywood: Antifaschistische Filmarbeit bei Warner Bros. Pictures, 1930-1940

Larissa Schütze
© Franz Steiner

Nach einer erfolgreichen Karriere im Kulturbetrieb der Weimarer Republik akzeptierte der deutsche Regisseur William Dieterle im Jahre 1930 ein Vertragsangebot der US-Filmgesellschaft Warner Bros. Pictures. Dort gelang ihm der Aufbau eines Netzwerkes deutschsprachiger Künstler, dem Persönlichkeiten wie Max Reinhardt und Fritz Kortner angehörten. Es entstanden außergewöhnliche Filme, die zum Kampf gegen den Nationalsozialismus und zur Repräsentation eines "anderen Deutschland" in der Emigration beitrugen.

Im Zentrum des Buches steht die bislang in der Forschung vernachlässigte Frage nach der Integration emigrierter Künstler in die institutionellen Strukturen amerikanischer Filmstudios und nach ihrem Spielraum innerhalb der erforderlichen Anpassungsleistungen an die Unternehmensphilosophie und die Produktionsstandards. Auf der Basis der Firmenunterlagen stellt Larissa Schütze die Werke Dieterles und seiner deutschsprachigen Kollegen in den historischen Kontext ihrer Produktionsbedingungen. Sie erweisen sich als Ergebnisse komplexer Entscheidungssituationen, geprägt durch das Zusammenwirken politischer, gesellschaftlicher und wirtschaftlicher Faktoren im Amerika der dreißiger Jahre.