A main archive was set up at the Federal Foreign Office by decree on 2 August 1920. The period was marked by the repercussions of the First World War and so the question as to how the foreign service files could be used to shed light on responsibility for the war was a key motive. Eventful years followed, marked by changes of location and the temporary closure of the Archive after the end of the Second World War. The Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office was re-established in 1951. It now contains 27 kilometres of shelves lined with files. The Archive has become a place where the decisions of German foreign policy since 1870 can be pored over, as well as where international treaties concluded by Germany are kept. The Political Archive is thus the memory of German foreign policy.
Digitisation of the Political Archive
The typewriter was a new innovation when the Political Archive was established one hundred years ago. There are many different means of communication today – and most of them are now digital. The demands on the Archive have changed accordingly. However, the Political Archive is not only important for knowledge management in the Federal Foreign Office but also a source of information for research into the history of diplomacy. To ensure that analogue items can be used for private and academic research, the Political Archive has begun to digitise its holdings. More than 18 million digitised items will be available in a few weeks’ time.