Archive of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the GDR

The archive of the former Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the GDR (APW) holds relevant sources for educational and school educational research in the GDR, e.g. administrative files, legacies and a comprehensive collection of photographs.

The Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the GDR (APW) and its predecessor, the German Central Pedagogical Institute (DPZI), constituted a central, non-university, pedagogical research institution in the GDR. They were directly subordinate to the Ministry of Education and participated in the development of a “uniform socialist education system”.

The archive of the APW, which ceased to exist on December 31, 1990, was initially founded as a purely administrative archive. In 1986, the archive status was upgraded to “Aktenendarchiv” and it stores papers from the DPZI (founded in  1949) and its successor, the APW (founded in 1970). In addition to the administrative papers the archive holds legacies and collections including a large collection of photographs. The BBF administers the archive of the APW as a depositum of the Federal Archives.

Administrative Records in the Archive of the APW

A vast number of documents have been archived incorporating 17,000 files (ca. 600 running meters) which today serve as a source for research on education and school education in the GDR. Apart from exceptional cases due to archive legislational reasons, the papers are available for use. The holdings have been roughly indexed in the archive database and it can be searched online.



Since 1976, the administrative recors have systematically been enriched by donations and transferences of documents with a non-official origin. These materials were meant to serve a later assessment and processing of the administrative papers. Non-official materials include personal papers of outstanding DPZI and APW members as well as legacies of pedagogues – e.g. Adelheid Torhorst (1884-1968) and Marie Torhorst (1888-1989), Gerda Mundorf (1913-1983), Gertrud Rosenow (1889-1976), Karl Hoffmann (1915-2001) or Hans Siebert (1910-1979). These papers have been indexed in varying degrees of depth, and apart from a few limitations they are accessible for scientific use.


Collection of Photographs

The collection of photographs from the APW archive contains approximately 10,000 photographs from roughly 100 years of educational history in Germany. The photographs mostly document school scenarios, classroom settings or teaching staff. The collection also contains photographs of school enrolment, confirmation and Jugendweihe ceremonies.

Photographs require special conditions of storage, and for conservation purposes the photographs from the APW legacies were integrated into the collection of photographs. The pictures show professional as well as private stations in the lives of pedagogues from the GDR.