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German house

Entrance to German house

German house

Founded to promote academic, cultural and social exchange between members of the Columbia community and the public interested in German affairs.

Our programs cover a range of Germanic languages ​​and cultures and provide a cultural resource for the broader intellectual and professional community of New York City. Regular events in the fall and spring semesters offer students the opportunity to practice their language skills, experience Germanic culture and exchange ideas on scientific topics as well as current political and social issues. The cultural programs and social activities sponsored by the Deutsches Haus are free and accessible to the public.

The Deutsches Haus library on the second floor of the Deutsches Haus is open to all German students and doctoral candidates. This library is a designated learning space for German students. Literature and philosophy books in German and English are available for use on site.

The Deutsches Haus has scientific connections to the renowned faculties of Columbia University for German studies and other languages ​​and literatures as well as to the renowned scientific journal New German Critique.

Contact us
420 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

Phone: 212.854.3202
Email:[Email protected]

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The German House was founded in 1911 at Columbia University by Edward Dean Adams and Rudolf Tombo and was the first foreign language house to be founded at an American university. Since then, the Deutsches Haus has established an important link between German culture and the rich artistic life of New York: We have introduced German authors, critics, politicians, philosophers, directors and entrepreneurs to an American audience dealing with German affairs.

A partial list of intellectuals who have spoken at Deutsches Haus reads like a history of the twentieth century: Edmund Husserl, Max Planck, Max Brod, Gerhart Hauptmann, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler, Arnold Zweig, Stefan Qweig and Thomas Mann; Günter Grass, Max Frisch, Uwe Johnson, Wolfgang Koeppen, Barbara Frischmuth and Niklas Luhmann.

The fate of the German House is closely linked to political events. As a result of the First World War, the German House was closed in 1917 and reopened in January 1918 as a work space for the Columbia War Hospital.

In the spring of 1928, F. W. Lafrentz, President of the Germanistic Society of America, demanded the re-establishment of the German House at Columbia University and obtained the help of Columbia University President N. M. Butler.

University President Butler opened the new German House in 1929. The New York Times and other American and German newspapers featured the cultural center on their front pages. For the numerous scientists and business people who accompanied and supported the reopening, the house embodied the “goodwill” in restoring German-American relations. There were also messages of congratulations from numerous German officials and intellectuals such as Edmund Husserl and Max Planck as well as from authors and poets such as Max Brod, Gerhart Hauptmann, Freiherr von Münchhausen, Hugo von Hoffmansthal, Arthur, Clara Viebig, Arnold Zweig, Stefan Zweig and Thomas Mann.

During the Second World War, the German House ceased operations. In the 1950s and 1960s, many German-Jewish emigrants took part as speakers and active audiences in the programs of the German House and thus significantly shaped and maintained education in the USA.

In 1972, after the original building was torn down and the Deutsches Haus moved several times, the cultural center moved to its current address at 420 West 116th Street.

Early on, the German House dedicated itself to preserving Germany's unique cultural and literary tradition. Later in the twentieth and now in the twenty-first century, their mission has evolved to incorporate a more dynamic understanding of culture into its transnational contexts.

The film and lecture series, recitals and informal social events organized in the Deutsches Haus are increasingly integrating cultural representations from the smaller language and cultural programs such as Dutch, Swedish, Yiddish and Finnish, which are an integral part of the Institute for Germanic Languages ​​at Columbia University.


In the 21st century, the audience in the Deutsches Haus has become more diverse. With the American interest in German culture, the curriculum of the Germanic language department and with it the program of the German House have also developed further. Originally committed to preserving Germany's unique literary tradition, the Deutsches Haus tries today to integrate various facets of German, Austrian, Swiss, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish and Yiddish culture into an expanded dialogue and to include both historical and contemporary cultural processes in transnational environments explore.

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Today's New Yorkers use the Deutsches Haus as a resource to discover new developments in German film, literature, theater and performance, political commentary, popular culture and criticism. With its conferences, lectures, films, symposia and readings well represented on campus, the house is a lively center for international and interdisciplinary scientific exchange. The topics and formats range from general questions of broad public interest to specialist scientific papers and cross-media cultural practice.

With its scientific events, the Deutsches Haus supports the Department of Germanic Languages ​​and Literature at Columbia in the systematic training of students in German literature with a focus on modern times and contemporary cultural theory. The curriculum offers a comprehensive overview of the most important epochs, genres and authors of German literature from 1750 to the present as well as theoretical perspectives such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, feminism, discourse analysis and hermeneutics, narratology, gender, affect, film, performance and media studies. Students are also encouraged to develop an interdisciplinary study program with faculties of comparative literature, philosophy, film, and women's studies. Renowned Max Kade scholarship holders such as Reinhart Koselleck, Gertrud Koch, Klaus Scherpe, Slavoj Zizek, Elizabeth Bronfen, Friedrich A. Kittler, Eva Geulen and Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky regularly supplement the offer of the institute and are godparents for doctoral students in dissertation research on German Universities.

Past events



Conferences for PhD students

Giving to German house

To finance its fall and spring program, the German House regularly receives small donations from Columbia University and external sources. The list of organizations that have contributed to the German House in recent years is long: It includes the Goethe-Institut New York, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Washington, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Consulate, the German Information Center, the Max Kade Foundation, the Baier Foundation, the Austrian Institute, the Swiss Institute, Cornell University Medical College in New York City and Institutes in Columbia such as the Center for Jewish and Isreali Studies, the Institute on Western and Eastern Europe, the Casa Italiana, the Maison Française, Miller Theater, School of International and Public Affairs and Institute for Women and Gender Studies.

    If you would like to donate to the Deutsches Haus, please write your check to Columbia University-Deutsches Haus and send your contribution to:

    • Institute for Germanic Languages
    • 415 Hamilton Hall, Zip Code 2812
    • 1130 Amsterdam Avenue
    • New York, NY 10027

    You can also donate online on the following page.

    You will receive more information about donations to the German House by email[Email protected]or contact us at the above address.

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