Tasks and Aims of the Lepsiushaus

Research at the Lepsiushaus particularly focuses on the “Armenian catastrophe” and its various contexts – thus, the policies of violence towards the Armenians from the end of the 19th century and the genocide of 1915–16, but also humanitarian political efforts in reaction to these.

The Armenian example also makes possible a comparative examination of the dimension of identity politics, of denial as a perpetuation of genocide, and conversely, the importance of political and social recognition for coming to terms with the past and for initiating processes of reconciliation.


The Lepsiushaus places special emphasis 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 twentieth century, and the initiator and director of a significant, donation-funded relief organization in the Ottoman Empire. Lepsius’s character as a person is also connected to questions around civil courage, international political ethics, and the rule of law.

Political Education

This central focus opens onto other subject areas, such as 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.

The tabling of contemporary issues also means that the Lepsiushaus positions itself as a venue for public-facing events and for political education.

Historical Heritage

The present logo of the Lepsiushaus Potsdam is modelled on that of the earlier relief organization founded by Johannes Lepsius. It features a phoenix bird and a palm frond, two symbols of connected significance, which speak both of suffering and death and of resurrection. These symbols refer to the Armenian genocide and to the rebirth of a house which once stood at the centre of a tremendous humanitarian and journalistic effort to combat a great crime against humanity. It is vital that this historical legacy be carried on in the present.