Research at the Lepsiushaus Potsdam particularly focuses on the “Armenian catastrophe”, the 1915–16 genocide, and its various contexts.

Among these, the potential for violence inherent to 19th- and 20th-century nationalization processes is an especially prominent aspect, one which is also connected to issues that remain urgent today – as in the disparate regions of the Middle East and their (mostly Christian) minorities, where Germany champions peacemaking, stability and reconciliation. The historical case study of the Armenians can provide a starting point for comparative analyses in the field of “genocide studies” and of issues around minority groups, which can be elaborated in transdisciplinary projects and conferences based around the research taking place in and with the Lepsiushaus Potsdam.

At present, there are no other research programmes dedicated to these topics elsewhere in Germany. The Lepsiushaus Potsdam aims to enrich the German “genocide studies” field – formed from history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and jurisprudence. The Armenian example also invites to a comparative approach to examining the dimensions of identity politics, of denial as a continuation of genocide, and conversely, the importance of political and social recognition for working through the past as well as for processes of reconciliation.

Particular emphasis is placed on the study of the life, work, and influence of Johannes Lepsius – the most important international witness, historian, and documenter of the first modern genocide of the 20th century, and initiator and director of a significant charitable relief organization in the Ottoman Empire. Lepsius’s character as a person is also connected to questions relating to civil courage, international political ethics, and the rule of law.

Deriving from this focus, the work done at the Lepsiushaus opens onto other subject areas: the relationship between nationalism, ethnicity, and the politics of violence; the history and culture of the Armenians; the “distant Europe” of Transcaucasia; intercultural and interreligious dialogue; and historical and contemporary problems of human rights, international law, and the politics of remembrance. These focal areas are regularly considered in academic conferences and colloquia.

The Johannes Lepsius Archive and the library offer a wealth of material, accessible via state-of-the-art media, in order to facilitate research.