More information on the history of the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) from 1870 to the present day and on its current building on Werderscher Markt in Berlin is available on the following pages.

Wilhelmstrasse, where the Auswärtiges Amt was situated, around 1927
Wilhelmstrasse, where the Auswärtiges Amt was situated, around 1927© Bundesarchiv/wikimedia under cc-by-sa

From 1870 to the present day

The name “Auswärtiges Amt” dates back to the eponymous institution of the North German Confederation in 1879 and the German Empire from 1871. The German Foreign Ministry has been known under that name to this day. During Bismarck’s time, the Auswärtiges Amt had only two directorates: the Political Directorate and a second Directorate responsible for foreign trade and other issues as well as legal and consular affairs.

During the Weimar Republic, the Foreign Service was reorganised and took on a modern structure. During the National Socialist dictatorship, the Auswärtiges Amt was part of the apparatus of dictatorship, while a few diplomats, such as Ulrich von Hassell and Adam von Trott zu Solz, joined the resistance and paid for it with their lives.

Auswärtiges Amt in Bonn© REGIERUNGonline/Stutterheim

The involvement of the Auswärtiges Amt in the crimes of the “Third Reich” and its subsequent handling of this past were investigated by an Independent commission of historians, which published its report in October 2010.

After the Second World War, the Auswärtiges Amt was re-established on 15 March 1951, with its headquarters in Bonn. In the following decades, the Federal Republic of Germany and its Foreign Service were systematically and successfully integrated into the democratic West and its international organisations. In 1999, as part of the German Federal Government’s relocation to Berlin, the Federal Foreign Office returned to its original home, at the heart of the German capital.

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