View of the reading room Enlarge image View of the reading room (© Jörg F. Müller/ AA)

You can certainly take a “learning by doing” approach to your work in the Political Archive, and allow yourself to be guided by your curiosity and intuition. However, you can also take a systematic approach! These pages will explain how to do so and tell you about the aids you can use. Only in this way can you ensure that you include all of the documents relevant to your research topic.

Please start with the this page:

  “Preparing your visit to the Political Archive” (in German)

This page contains essential background information for working with all of the holding groups. Sound preparation will make your work in the archives easier and faster.

Please continue by reading the relevant research guidelines for your topic. These guidelines provide an introduction to working with various types of finding aids and tools in the Reading Room. Guidelines are available for each of the Political Archive’s three main holding groups.

Reference code
Holding group
Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany)
Ministerium für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten der DDR (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the GDR)
Auswärtiges Amt des Deutschen Reiches (Foreign Office of the German Empire)

It is not possible to make general statements on the Nachlässe (personal papers) holding group. As a rule, it is not necessary to consult original treaties, as international treaties are published in the relevant law gazettes.

In order to prepare your visit in the best way, our German website offers a bibliography containing the titles of publications on the history of the ministries and the Political Archive, as well as on sources and methodology, is available. The glossary explains specialist archive terms that you will encounter in these pages and during your visit to the Political Archive. “Other archives” provides information on other relevant records on the history of German foreign policy.

Our website also contains information on the legal basis and practical guidelines for using the archive.