Statement by the BASEES President on the Threatened Closure of the Department of East European History at the University of Cologne in 2020

I would like to express my Association's grave disquiet at the decision to not reappoint the chair of Eastern European History at the University of Cologne in 2020. As many colleagues have pointed out the de facto closure of your internationally-renowned department of Eastern European History at a time of renewed tensions in the region, at a time when misperceptions and half-truths are flourishing, memory and myths are mixed and instrumentalised in nation-building processes and geopolitics, is a fatal signal. The current political situation in the region requires investment into serious scholarly historical study and the training of a future generation of experts in the field. A deep understanding of the historical roots of contemporary developments is pivotal to addressing socio-economic, political and geopolitical challenges of in the region. I would therefore ask BASEES members to sign a petition to the university’s faculty leadership to reconsider its decision and explore ways to preserve the chair of Eastern European History, which has made such a valuable contribution to our field over the years. You can sign the petition at:


Dr Matthias Neumann

President of BASEES