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08/17/2017 | Pressemitteilung

University of Kassel investigates Nazi burden on German ministries

A researcher from the University of Kassel has been commissioned by the German government to investigate the Nazi past of German ministries. This was announced by the Minister of State for Culture, Monika Grütters, in Berlin on Monday. Prof. Dr. Sylvia Veit, an administrative scientist from Kassel, is investigating the careers of senior civil servants in the Federal Republic and the GDR.

Image: University of Kassel
Prof. Dr. Sylvia Veit.

The research project is part of a larger research program of the federal government to come to terms with the Nazi burden on ministries and central authorities. The program is based on a suggestion by the Institute of Contemporary History and the Center for Contemporary History Research.

Prof. Veit and her team will evaluate the biographies of ministers, state secretaries and department heads in ministries of the Federal Republic and the GDR. The central question is whether new elites formed after the collapse in 1945 and the new beginning in 1949, or whether the leading personnel of the "Third Reich" continued their careers in the ministries. The research group also wants to use the findings to derive fundamental conclusions about mechanisms that enable the development of a civil service after systemic changes.

"Is it true that in the Federal Republic, expertise and professional experience often outweighed a Nazi past? To what extent can one really speak of an uncompromising break in the case of the GDR?", Veit lists further questions. While there are already reliable data on current biographies of executives in FRG ministries, which the Kassel research team wants to expand and evaluate, especially with regard to the early years of the Federal Republic, the GDR authorities have so far been little studied. Among other things, Veit can draw on files from the Federal Archives in Berlin, Freiburg and Koblenz for her project.

"Research into how German ministries dealt with leadership personnel from the Nazi era is of great contemporary historical importance. It is important to deal with it," said University of Kassel President Prof. Dr. Reiner Finkeldey. "I am pleased that a scientist from our university is involved in such a high-profile program."

The project "New Elites - Established Personnel? (Dis-)continuities of German Ministries in System Transformations" is scheduled for three years and will be funded with about 400,000 euros.

Prof. Dr. Sylvia Veit has been head of the Department of Public Management at the University of Kassel for three years. Her research focuses on education and training paths, career patterns and the understanding of the role of managers in the public sector. Her other areas of focus include administrative reforms and digitization of administration, approaches to debureaucratization and better regulation processes.


Image of Prof. Dr. Sylvia Veit (Photo: Uni Kassel) at




Prof. Dr. Sylvia Veit
University of Kassel
Department of Public Management
Tel.: +49 561 804-7786
E-mail: sveit[at]uni-kassel[dot]de


Sebastian Mense
University of Kassel
Communication, Press and Public Relations
Tel.: +49 561 804-1961
E-mail: presse[at]uni-kassel[dot]de