“Connecting cultures” – this is the philosophy we live by. We stand for diversity, tolerance, innovation, exchange and the discovery of the new.
Our German courses help all those people who live and work in German speaking surroundings and who use the language in their social and cultural interactions to succeed.
The seminars and trainings offer all people who work in the fields of culture and education on an international level the opportunity to learn about the characteristics and peculiarities of certain countries, regions and topics in a productive atmosphere. Participants can enlargen their competences, acquire a new set of tools and can get into a network with players in situ to enforce active discussion and exchange.
ifa Akademie is linked with EUNIC, the association of national cultural institutes of the EU. It cooperates with the Academy of the Department for Foreign Affairs as well as with scientific institutions, such as the Universities of Siena and Krems.
History / Milestones
1917-1933 The support of German identity in foreign/other countries and the cultivation of the German image
On January 10 1917 the “Museum and Institute for supporting German identity and promoting German interests in other countries” was founded and re-named in the same year into "Deutsches Ausland-Institut” (DAI). There was an awareness that something had to be done for the German culture and social status of the millions of Germans in other European countries oversees after the war. It collided with the ambition to improve the damaged image of Germany in the world.
DAI consulted people who wanted to emigrate into other countries, supported the ones who already lived outside Germany, organised exhibitions and released a magazine (“Der Auslandsdeutsche”). It became known for its scientific work and the library on foreign cultures, the press and news service and its substantial archive.
Perpetrator by conviction and follower
The years 1933-1949
Until 1933 the DAI had been above party lines, but the institute was synchronised after the Nazis came into power. Under Karl Strölin, the Nazi mayor of Stuttgart, the institute became the headquarter for all aspects concerning the preservation and dissemination of German ideas. German race politics and the Nazification of foreign regions were on the agenda.
The DAI was part of the propagation, the distribution and evaluation of resettlements in the conquered Eastern European territories. The institute cooperated closely with the Gestapo, the NSDAP/AO and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the NSDAP under Rosenberg and gave him relevant information on certain members of society or denounced disagreeable people seeking advice from the institute. The institute was allowed to continue work after the war and received a new name and new tasks in 1949.
“Elementary school” and reloading point 1949-1990
On July 5 1949 the new founding of the “Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen” (ifa) was decided. The official start was 1951. Upon this occasion, the first Bundespräsident Theodor Heuss spoke about the institute’s role as the “elementary school for the relations with other countries”.
The institute followed this route: exhibitions of fine arts were organised, relations with other countries were cultivated in the regional departments, seminars informed foreigners about Germany and Germans about other countries. The first German language courses were launched. Several magazines (first “Mitteilungen”, then starting in 1962 "Zeitschrift für Kulturaustausch" and since 2006 “Kulturaustausch- Zeitschrift für internationale Perspektiven“) were published and established a platform for the scientific side of foreign cultural policy.
In May 1971 the ifa Galerie Stuttgart opened, in 1980 the ifa Galerie Bonn followed. During the 1970’s the exclusive responsibility for the organisation of exhibitions of German art all over the world was transferred to the ifa.
The one who changes, stays true to himself.
The years 1991-2004
As a result of the German re-unification the ifa expanded its activities to the new states in Eastern Germany. In 1991 the ifa Galerie opened in Berlin, 2004 the ifa Galerie in Bonn closed its doors. At the same time, the institute’s importance was heightened in German foreign cultural politics.
ifa bears the challenge of a globalised and permanently changing world with a large number of promotional programmes (CCP, zivik, Integration and Media and scholarships for foreign artists), 40 travelling art exhibitions, the research programme and the specialised library for foreign cultural and educational policy, the magazine “Kulturaustausch” and several other relevant publications.
ifa is part of a global network and active in associations around the world. The digitalisation of the institute, the library, new data bases and online services and the usage of social media make the ifa an essential partner in foreign cultural and educational policy.
The idea to open the indispensable competences of ifa to new target groups and to revive the long tradition of offering seminars comes to the agenda.
ifa is dedicated to a peaceful and enriching co-existence of people, states and religions. Cultures change and are permeable but preservative and limiting at the same time. They can be sources of conflicts or means to solve them.
Cultural exchange is peace work. Peace and justice, the preservation of livelihood and cultures of humanity as well as a united Europe are great challenges for us. The basis for our work is freedom of speech and information and the prevalence of human rights- we strive to do our part in supporting these ideas.
Dialogue comes from cultural diversity. We bring people together so that they can be part of an equal creation of a common future.
ifa initialises intercultural dialogue. Exchange in culture and fine arts is supported through conferences, dialogue programmes and encounter of the players involved. Civil conflict resolution leads to peace and the support of cultural minorities leads to cultural diversity.
ifa and since 2016 ifa Akademie are a competence centre for foreign cultural and educational policy. Both combine the practical side of topics with aspects from science and media. They instigate, analyse, moderate and document discussions and questions of foreign cultural relations.
ifa sparks interest in Germany in foreign countries. It conveys innovative German stand points through exchange programmes, exhibitions, publications, public speaking circuits and visitor programmes. Through a range of events and ongoing programmes.
ifa Akademie gGmbH was founded May 1 2016. The Akademie is a subsidiary company of ifa e.V.
Around 90 employees work with more than 4500 people every year in German courses, seminars and trainings.
Starting September 2016 the ifa Akademie works in an educational partnership with Klett-Langenscheidt. The goal is to further develop study material for German as a foreign language, to ameliorate and test new digital learning environments.
ifa-akademie.de goes online/is launched in October 2016.