General Information


Körber Foundation

Laura Wesseler

Kehrwieder 12
D - 20457 Hamburg
Phone: +49-40-80 81 92 145
Fax: +49-40-80 81 92 302

About the organisation

Social development calls for critical reflection. Körber-Stiftung is taking on current social challenges with its operational projects, in its networks and with cooperation partners. At present, the focus of its work is on the five topics Dialogue with Asia, Shaping Democracy, MINT Promotion, Potential of Old Age and Music Education.

Fathered in 1959 by the entrepreneur and instigator Kurt A. Körber, the foundation is now active both nationally and internationally with its own projects and events from its locations in Hamburg and Berlin.

The history competition

In the 1970s, the former Federal President Gustav Heinemann posed the question that started our competition: "How can we make Germans aware of the democratic traditions in German history?" Instead of setting up a museum he adopted the idea of Körber-Stiftung to involve young people in discussing and analysing the existing controversies about Germany’s democratic past. In 1973, President Heinemann and Kurt A. Körber announced the first history competition. Since then the "Geschichtswettbewerb des Bundespräsidenten" has become Germany’s largest organised amateur research movement. Every two years the German President opens a new round of the competition.


The competitions basic principle is Explorative Learning. Submissions must have a regional or biographical approach to the chosen topic and participants have to work with original sources, be it interviews with contemporary witnesses or public archive investigations. During a research period of six months, the young historians have to decide themselves which aspects of the topic they want to explore and how they are going to realise their project.

The final presentation of their findings leaves room for variety; most frequently, manuscripts, videos and collages have been submitted. The organisation and documentation of an exhibition or a performance is possible as well and of course the number of multimedia presentations has increased considerably over the last decade.


22 regional juries consisting of a total of 160 historians, teachers, archivists, and museum experts select the best pieces from an average of 1,200 investigations in each round and award prizes on Länder level. In a second step, a central jury chooses the best contributions on national level.

All juries take into consideration the age of the participants and type of school they attend.


During each competition up to 550 prizes are awarded:
5 First Prizes: € 2,500 each
15 Second Prizes: € 1,500 each
30 Third Prizes: € 750 each
250 Major Prizes on Länder level: € 500 each
250 Minor Prizes on Länder Level: € 200 each.

The top winning candidates are awarded their prizes by the German President at his official residence. In addition, award winners who show a particular talent have a chance to be accepted by the German National Academic Foundation and the academy programs of Körber-Stiftung (Förderwerk) and EUSTORY. Every participant to the competition receives a certificate.

Competition Details