German lessons in the „electronic classroom“ at the Goethe-Institut in Murnau, 1969. © Goethe-Institut
The Goethe-Institut is founded as successor to the German Academy (Deutsche Akademie, DA). Its first task is to provide further training for foreign German teachers in Germany.
The first language courses run by the Goethe-Institut begin in Bad Reichenhall. Due to growing demand, new centres of learning are soon opened in Murnau and Kochel, the focus of selection being on towns which are small and idyllic and which show post-war Germany at its best. Lessons are taught from the first textbook developed by the Goethe-Institut, the now legendary "Schulz-Griesbach".
The first foreign lectorships of what was the German Academy are taken on by the Goethe-Institut. Responsibilities include German tuition, teacher training and providing a programme of cultural events to accompany courses.
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"Lida lernt Deutsch" - How times are changing ... Promotional film of the Goethe-Institut from the early 1960s
On the initiative of the head of the arts sector of the Foreign Office, Dieter Sattler, the Goethe-Institut gradually takes over all of the German cultural institutes abroad. This development of a broad international institute network signals an intensification of Germany's foreign cultural policy.
Influenced by the student revolts of the late 1960s the Goethe-Institut readjusts its programme of cultural events to include sociopolitical topics and avant-garde art.
Acting on behalf of the Foreign Office Ralf Dahrendorf develops his "guiding principles for foreign cultural policy". Cultural work involving dialogue and partnership is declared the third pillar of German foreign policy. During the Willy Brandt era the concept of "extended culture" forms the basis of activities at the Goethe-Institut.
The Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut sign a general agreement governing the status of the Goethe-Institut, henceforth an independent cultural organisation.
A new concept regarding the location of institutes within Germany is drawn up. Places of instruction in small towns, mostly in Bavaria, are replaced by institutes in cities and university towns.
The fall of the Berlin Wall also marks a turning point for the Goethe-Institut. Its activities in the 1990s are thus strongly centred on Eastern Europe. Numerous new institutes are set up as a result.
The Goethe-Institut merges with Inter Nationes.
The Goethe-Institut establishes the first Western information centre in Pjöngyang / North Corea.
The Goethe-Institut is honoured with the Prince-of-Asturia-Price of Spain
For the first time in more then ten years the German parliament decides to increase the funds of the Goethe-Institut.
Presidents of the Goethe-Institut:
Dr. Kurt Magnus (1951-1962)
Dr. Max Grasmann (1962-1963)
Peter H. Pfeiffer (1963-1971)
Hans v. Herwarth (1971-1977)
Klaus v. Bismarck (1977-1989)
Hans Heigert (1989-1993)
Prof. Dr. h.c. Hilmar Hoffmann (1993-2001)
Prof. Dr. Jutta Limbach (2002-2008)
Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann (since 2008)
Secretaries General of the Goethe-Institut:
Helmuth Brückmann (1952-58)*
Richard Wolf (1958-1965)*
Dr. Werner Ross (1965-1973)*
Hans Kahle (1973-1976)
Dr. Horst Harnischfeger (1976-1996)
Dr. Joachim Sartorius (1996-2000)
Prof. Dr. Joachim-Felix Leonhard (2001-2003)
Dr. Horst Harnischfeger (2003)
Dr. Andreas Schlüter (2004)
Dr. Wolfgang Bader (2005, interim)
Dr. Hans-Georg Knopp (2005-2012)
Johannes Ebert (since 2012)