20. Mai 2015 - 22. Mai 2015
Tagung / Seminar / Workshop

Beyond Diplomacy: 50 Years of German Israeli Relations - Personal Encounters and Official Ties


The State of Israel was founded in 1948, the Federal Republic of Germany followed in 1949. At the point in time of the foundation of the two states it seemed preposterous that Israel, the country that defines itself as the safe haven for Jews and the Federal Republic, the country that succeeded the nation that had masterminded the systematic murder of Jews would ever engage in official inter-state relations. Yet, only sixteen years later, May 12, 1965, formal diplomatic relations began.

These official diplomatic relations were prefigured by cautious, and contested contacts between individuals with and without institutional links on both sides. It is these complex and entangled relations that this conference wishes to follow up, and to question: does it make sense to separate the different levels of German/Israeli relationships into official diplomacy and cultural contacts or exchange programs?

Scientists from different disciplines will engage with this core question over two days thanks to the generous support of the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. The organisers, the Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden (Hamburg) and the Bergische University Wuppertal succeeded in attracting experts who cover the time before the official diplomatic relationships up to the present, and who engage with topics ranging from sports, to law, and street art.

To set the tone the conference will start with a roundtable discussion that consists of five individual experts who represent different, yet interlinked, societal spheres, and who engage with Germany and Israel differently, and who are based in either, or both countries by way of their professional situations journalism, foundations, culture, or academia.

Gisela Dachs is a journalist who publishes in German national newspapers such as Die Zeit. She has been based in Israel since 1994.

Tali Konas spent a significant amount of time in Berlin. She translated the works of Herta Müller, W. G. Sebald and the diaries of Victor Kamperer into Hebrew.

His excellence ambassador a. d. Shimon Stein lives in Tel Aviv and Berlin. He was the ambassador of the State of Israel to Germany from

2001 to 2007.

Dr. Angelika Timm taught at the Humboldt University before entering the diplomatic services of the GDR and going on missions in Cairo and Baghdad. She was the head director of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Tel Aviv until the beginning of the year, and now resides in Berlin.

Prof. Dr. Moshe Zimmermann descents from a Hamburg Jewish family, and is previous director of the Richard Koebner Minerva Centers for German History at the Hebrew University Jerusalem.

Given their diverse and multi-layered experiences the panelists will shed light on particularities, misunderstandings, as well as the everyday of German/Israeli relations from different perspectives.


The conference was co-organized by Dr. Svenja Bethke (Hamburg).

Funded by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.



20. Mai 2015




Introduction by Organizers


Guided tour through Exhibit in the Bundesverwaltungsgericht "Menschenschicksale" - Die deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit im Dritten

Reich: Einbürgerung, Widerruf, Aberkennung


Öffentliche Podiumsdiskussion (in German) Gisela Dachs (Journalistin, Tel Aviv), Tali Konas (Übersetzerin, Tel Aviv), Shimon Stein (Botschafter a.D., Berlin/Tel Aviv), Angelika Timm (Stiftungsvertreterin, Berlin),  Moshe Zimmermann (Historiker, Jerusalem), Moderation: Bernd Weisbrod (Historiker, Berlin)


Reception with refreshments



21. Mai 2015


Panel 1: The Prologue: The Beginnings of Diplomacy

Chair: Miriam Rürup (Hamburg)

Kirsten Heinsohn (Kopenhagen): Undercover - Erich Lüths first visit to Israel. Personal encounters, governmental politics and the beginning of diplomatic relationships between Israel and West Germany

Frank Bajohr (München): German Past, Morality and Realpolitik. Erik Blumenfeld and the Beginning of Diplomatic Relations with Israel


Coffee Break


Panel 2: Academic Encounters

Chair: Jost Dülffer

Amos Morris-Reich (Haifa): Jacob Wahrman's "first letters": Scientific Collaboration in Nazi Corrupted Sciences, 1950 - 1965

Johannes Becke (Heidelberg): Between post-genocidal identity politics and 'Islamwissenschaft': Paradigms and blind spots in German research on Israel"


Lunch Break


Panel 2: Diplomacy

Chair: Habbo Knoch (Köln)

Roni Stauber (Tel Aviv): The International Arena and Quest for Diplomatic Relations between Germany and Israel

Jenny Hestermann (Frankfurt a.M.): "Overcoming the Past? The 1973 Visit of Willy Brandt as a Turning Point in the German-Israeli 'Special Relationship'"

Lina Nikou (Hamburg/Jerusalem): "The Israelis are Coming!"

Contacts Between German Cities and Their Former Citizens in Israel After the Shoah


Coffee Break

15.45- 17.15      

Panel 4: Education

Chair: Manfred Laemmer (Köln)

Simone Heil (Bonn): "Youth Exchange and the 'Special Relationship'

between Germany and the State of Israel - Interdependency of Structure and Agency".

Dirk Sadowski (Braunschweig): German-Israeli textbook consultations in the 1980's and today: topics, findings and challenges 


Conference Dinner


22. Mai 2015


Panel 5: Encounters

Chair: N.N.

Patricia Pientka (Berlin/Tel Aviv):  Opening Discussions about Street Art and Graffiti in Israel and Germany

Alexandra Margalith (Tel Aviv): Unique Aspects in German-Israeli Legal Relations




Panel 6: Israel and the German Left

Chair: Heinz Sünker

Jacob Tovy (Haifa): Against the background of the Luxemburg agreement:

Israel seeks reparations from East-Germany, 1951-1956

Angelika Timm (Tel Aviv): East German Politics towards Israel

Kristina Meyer (Jena):  The SPD, the Jews, and the State of Israel



Lunch Break


Panel 7: Sports

Chair: Dani Kranz (Wuppertal)

Manfred Laemmer (Köln): The Contribution of Sport to the Development of German-Israeli Relations

Hani Zubida (Afulah/Israel): We Are One! Or Are We? Football Fandom and Ethno-National-Religious Identity in Israel

Anmeldung erforderlich.


Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Apostelnkloster 13-15, 50672 Köln


Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden