1951 - 1969

Out of Germany and into the world

The founding of the Goethe-Institut in 1951 lays the groundwork for the language and cultural institute’s worldwide activities. As the successor to the Deutsche Akademie, an association dedicated to researching and disseminating German culture, the Goethe-Institut initially trains German teachers from other countries in Germany. More institutes are soon founded abroad. While the first years were shaped by legal and financial uncertainty, a 1969 agreement with the German Foreign Office creates the necessary legal framework.

1952

The first Goethe-Institut opens abroad in Athens, and 53 more follow by 1961. Today there are 158 institutes in 98 countries.

Video "Lida learns German" Goethe-Institut

1953

The first German courses

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1953

The first German courses
Des hob i ja gsogt.“
The first language courses take place in Bad Reichenhall, Murnau and Kochel. Language learners from all over the world come to learn both High German and the local dialect. The second is quite challenging for the students featured in “Lida lernt Deutsch” (Lida learns German).
The first language courses take place in Bad Reichenhall, Murnau and Kochel. Language learners from all over the world come to learn both High German and the local dialect. The second is quite challenging for the students featured in “Lida lernt Deutsch” (Lida learns German).

1955

First edition of “Deutsche Sprachlehre für Auslnder”
Standard textbook with millions of copies in print

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1955

First edition of “Deutsche Sprachlehre für Auslnder”
Standard textbook with millions of copies in print

When publisher Ernst Hueber visits Dora Schulz at the Munich office, he hopes to persuade her to use a textbook from his publishing house in German classes. She turns the tables though and convinces him to accept a manuscript she wrote with Heinz Griesbach, the director of the Goethe-Institut Bad Reichenhall: The “Schulz-Griesbach” is born.

Improvisational talent is often called for in early years of the Goethe-Institut, and no one embodies this better than Dora Schulz, a former Deutsche Akademie lecturer and senior staff member at the Munich headquarters. She personally takes care of any improvements the classrooms need, sews curtains for the windows, and drafts a textbook with Heinz Griesbach because there are no suitable teaching materials available. Their efforts result in “Deutsche Sprachlehre für Auslnder” (German Grammar for Foreigners), the cornerstone of a double success story for both the Hueber publishing house and the Goethe-Institut in the field of German as a foreign language.

Founding institutes in North and West Africa

  • 1958Tunis (Tunisia)
  • 1960 Casablanca (Morocco)
  • 1960 Rabat (Morocco)
  • 1961Accra (Ghana)
  • 1961Yaoundé (Cameroon)
  • 1961Lomé (Togo)
  • 1961Amman (Jordan)
  • 1962Addis Abeba (Ethiopia)
  • 1962Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
  • 1962Lagos (Nigeria)
  • 1963Algier (Algeria)
  • 1963Nairobi (Kenya)
  • 1963 Nairobi Gründungsjahr
  • 1964 AddisAdeba Leiter Goethe-Institut mit Knig
  • 1967 Accra Ghana
  • Addis Abeba Eroeffnung Goethe-Institut Kaiser Haile Selassie Deutscher Botschafter Paulus von Stolzmann

1963

The Goethe-Institut Algiers opens
The 100th Goethe-Institut?

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1963

The Goethe-Institut Algiers opens
The 100th Goethe-Institut?

Hurrah, the 100th international institute opens in Algiers! Or does it: In reality, the institute in Algiers is more likely the 102nd or 103rd – no one is really sure anymore today. But word has it that Algiers is supposedly a better fit for the public relations concept.

To this day, rumours still surround the opening of the 100th Goethe-Institut abroad. In all likelihood, the institute in the Algerian capital is not the 100th when it opens its doors in 1963. Either the large number of new institutes creates confusion, or the round number is a better public relations fit. It is an opportunity to highlight the Goethe-Institut’s increased activities in North-western Africa and the Near East and mention the institutes previously opened in Beirut, Teheran and Amman. The PR campaign is successful: Broadcaster ARD considers the story worthy of a report on its cultural programme.

1964

The Albert Mangelsdorff Quintet on tour in Asia
Jazz as a prime export

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1965

Marlene Dietrich graces the Goethe-Institut Paris
“The Blue Angel”

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1965

Marlene Dietrich graces the Goethe-Institut Paris
“The Blue Angel”

One of the greatest international stars of the day attends a showing of “The Blue Angel” organised by the Goethe-Institut Paris: Marlene Dietrich. The crush of people waiting to get in is so large it takes three police officers for crowd control at the entrance.

Her role as Lola in “The Blue Angel” opens the doors of Hollywood to Marlene Dietrich, who becomes an extraordinary international star. Unwilling to support National Socialism, she turns her back on Germany in the 1930s and takes US citizenship. She does not return to Europe until the 1960s, where she makes Paris her new home. In 1965, she creates a small sensation for the local Goethe-Institut when she personally attends a showing of “The Blue Angel” at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.

image of a man in a moonsuite Goethe-Institut Archiv

1966

The “Guten Tag” teaching film series

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1966

The “Guten Tag” teaching film series
“This rocket is not going to Beta”
In the mid-60s, the Goethe-Institut releases the “Guten Tag” (Good day) language films that teach German language learners how to navigate various everyday situations, such as going to a restaurant or looking for a flat. To appeal to a younger audience, some scenes are based on the popular “Space Patrol Orion” science-fiction series.
Goethe-Institut Archiv

1969

In July, the Goethe-Institut and the German Foreign Office sign the first framework agreement on cooperation.

1970­1988


Contemporary art, coming to terms with the past

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