History of the Institute

Foundation of the Förderverein Lepsiushaus Potsdam e.V.

After the end of the Second World War, the house was used by the Soviet army as a cash office until the beginning of the 1990s. Like the dilapidated building, the legacy of Lepsius’s commitment was in danger of being forgotten. But on 31 March 1999, at the initiative of a group of Potsdam residents and prominent Germans and Armenians from the church, academia, and civil society, the Förderverein Lepsiushaus Potsdam e. V. was founded, with the aim of preserving the house and returning it to a decent condition. A leading role in this was played by Prof. Hermann Goltz, a passionate founding member and long-time chairman of the association.

Goltz had already begun gathering Lepsius’s literary remains from the end of the 1970s, and in 1981 he established a centre for Armenian studies and theology at the Theological Faculty of the University of Halle-Wittenberg; this department also hosted the Johannes Lepsius archive until its relocation to Potsdam.

Große Weinmeisterstraße 45 before the renovation, after 2001

The 2005 Bundestag Resolution

In 2005, on the ninetieth anniversary of the genocide, the German Bundestag passed a Resolution expressly condemning the persecution and murder of the Armenians during the First World War. This resolution also included an admission of Germany’s complicity: “Germany, which also participated in concealing the crimes against the Armenian people, has a duty to face up to its own responsibility.” At the same time, the Bundestag moved to honour the life and work of Johannes Lepsius: “In particular, the memory of the work of Dr Johannes Lepsius, who energetically and successfully fought for the survival of the Armenian people, must be snatched from oblivion.”

Remains of maps from the times of the Soviet restricted area before the renovation

The same room from today's perspective

Development of the Lepsiushaus

Following an application by the Lepsiushaus Potsdam to the German government, funding for the reconstruction of the interior and start-up financing for the historical and educational programme was approved at the end of 2007. This decision met with resistance from some Turkish associations. Work on the interior fittings began in 2009, and was completed in early 2011. During this time, events were held in neighbouring buildings. The work was finally completed and the building officially opened on 2 May 2011 by the then Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann, with around 200 international guests present.

Since then, it has been open to all interested citizens, and its programme has made it a centre for research and encounter that is unique in its kind in Germany and Europe, commemorating a pivotal event in the history of political violence in the 20th century. For the last ten years, the Lepsiushaus Potsdam has conducted targeted research of these under the academic leadership of Rolf Hosfeld.