Prof. Dr. Karl Schlögel


Writer, historian, professor emeritus of Eastern European history

DAAD Scholarship 1982–1983

Prof. Dr. Karl Schlögel DAAD

Back at the time when the 34-year old historian Karl Schlögel left Berlin for Moscow, to enter the political and intellectual capital of the then still Communist superpower, he had just completed his doctorate with a conventional, socio-historical study on Forms of Resistance in the Working Classes of the Soviet Union 1953 – 1980. Along with his relocation, he simultaneously changed his research and its presentation, away from the "grand socialist collectives" and abstract terminology. Karl Schlögel wrote the book Moskau lesen (Reading Moscow), a forward-looking prototype of his successful historical method and story-telling technique: By doing so, "Anlauf- und Anhaltspunkte" (Starting and Stopping Points), at the venues, in the urban townscape and in his architecture literally open up the eyes for the juxtaposition of the synchronous and the asynchronous, for destruction and renewal and the creative forces behind the "facades" of power, culture and industry. Proverbially his book's title "Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit" (publ. 2003): (It is in space that we read the time)."

My stay in Moscow marked a major change in my life: I've had a family since that time – and I have produced two books of key importance to me.
Karl Schlögel

This knowledge enhancing spatial turn, "Wendung zum Raum", is Schlöger's original achievement as a historian, as a laudator once praised. His masterpiece “Petersburg. Laboratory of the Modern Age 1909–1921” brought him his academic breakthrough, initially with an appointment at the University of Konstanz and then in 2004 at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder. Indeed, Schlögel was interested in topics in which "the impact" or the force of historical change become visible and tangible. To achieve this "content" he found the suitable form of expression in "fresh linguistic brilliance", as an older colleague and mentor once remarked with admiration. Schlögel received numerous literary prizes for this expression: In 2004, the Sigmund Freud Prize for Scientific Prose conferred by the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung, in 2006, the Hamburg Lessing Prize and, in 2009, the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding.

In 2010 and 2011, he was a scholarship holder at the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin, where he worked on a book under the working title Auf der Wolga – eine russländische Geschichte (On the Volga – A Russian Story) on the history and stories of Russia's most important thoroughfare. Since the Maidan protests, the people’s uprising in Kiev in 2013, the acknowledged Russia expert has repeatedly travelled to Ukraine – for his book Entscheidung in Kiew (Decision in Kiev), which was published in September 2015.