Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the German Armed Forces (ZMSBw)

Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und
Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr (ZMSBw)
Zeppelinstr. 127/128
14471 Potsdam

PD Dr. Oliver Bange
Tel. +49 331 9714 414

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday 9 am - 5 pm
Friday 9 am - 12 noon


The Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the German Armed Forces (ZMSBw) is a research institute of the Federal German Government. It conducts research in military history, military sociology and security aspects in international relations. The military history department focusses on the era of the two World Wars and the military history of the Federal Republic of Germany and the former German Democratic Republic within their respective alliances. A key interest is to trace and explain the interdependencies between the military, the state, society, economics, culture and the public. The social science department contributes to the refinement of military sociology and provides research-based policy-consulting.

Cold War Interests: 

The period between 1945 and 1990 constitutes a major focus for the historical research conducted at the ZMSBw. Research is based on the assumption that the history of both post-war German armies can only be understood if it is placed within the wider framing of the East-West conflict. The ZMSBw pursues a comprehensive approach, featuring studies in organizational and military-operational history as well as in security policies, arms procurement, biographies and mentality-studies. Particular interest is paid to the effects of the integration of both German states and armies into their respective alliance, NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Researchers from several departments are involved in an interdisciplinary project, contributing to an integrated East and West German history of military developments and security policies from 1970 to 1990.

Further projects related to the Cold War include the history of the West and East German armies (Bundeswehr and Nationale Volksarmee), the annotated edition of the Defense Committee Papers of the West German Parliament, the history of the alliances, the changes in the images of war in the East and the West and their consequences for the course of the systemic conflict. The results of the research conducted at the center, of international co-operations and conferences are published in several book-series on the East-West conflict and in two journals ("Militärgeschichtlichen Zeitschrift" and "Militärgeschichte – Zeitschrift für historische Bildung"). On behalf of the Ministry of Defense, the ZMSBw carries the primary responsibility for the museums and collections of the German Armed Forces with their vast testimonials to the Cold War era. In Freiburg/Breisgau, at the military papers collection of the German Federal Archives, a special working group of the ZMSBw reviews classified documents for their possible release to the wider public. In addition, the ZMSBw library hosts one of the most comprehensive collections on military history between 1945 and 1990 in Germany and is open to the public.