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Bundesarchiv Koblenz (BAK)

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 10 years, 6 months ago

Date of tip: 28 August 2005 (last visit back in 2004)

Source: Carine Germond, carine.germond@yale.edu  


Location: Bundesarchiv, Potsdamer Str. 1, 56075 Koblenz; Mail address: Bundesarchiv, 56064 Koblenz


Contact Details: Phone: (+49) 261/5°5-0; Email/ koblenz@barch.bund.de


Possible Accommodation:  The family owned “Pension Wild” is the meeting point of all historians doing research in the Federal Archive in Koblenz. It is relatively cheap, conveniently located (about 15 to 20 minutes’ walking distance to the BAK) and the owner always does her best to make you feel at home. The night cost about 25 € the last time I was there and this included breakfast. You should book in advance, for this is quite a small pension and, as I said, well known. Here’s the complete address:

Pension Wild

Am Löwentor

56075 Koblenz

Phone: (+49) 261/56551


To get there, take the bus 2 direction Karthause (same as to go to the archives) and exit at the station “am Löwentor”. 


How to get there:  The closest airports are Köln/Bonn and Frankfurt. You should be able to find fast trains (ICE) running from those airports to Koblenz main railway station or, in the worst case, you might have to make a stop via Cologne’s main railway station if your plane landed in Köln/Bonn. Germanwing is running to and from Köln/Bonn. From Koblenz main railway station (Hbf), take the bus # 2 or 12 (direction Karthause) to get to the Bundesarchiv. It is direct. Exit at the station “Bundesarchiv”.  


Link to archive:  They have a very good and informative website which you should in any case consult first: http://www.bundesarchiv.de. The website is also available in English. It provides a list of holdings and findings aids, general information on how to use the archive and an online contact sheet as well.


Language:  German. 


Getting started:  As I said, you should first consult their website which will provide you with the basic information about the archives.

You should then contact the Bundesarchiv, either by post or by the online contact form. You will have to book your place in advance since the reading room is not a very big one, but I should also add that I never saw it crowded either.

Whether it is the first time you are using the archive or not, they will ask you to fill out a form with the usual information (name, address, institute, research topic, etc.). You can then consult the finding aids and order your documents.


Opening Hours:  Surprisingly for a German administration, the Bundesarchiv have opening hours every archive fans would dream of: from Monday to Thursday: 8:00-19:00 non-stop and on Friday 8:00-18:00! 


General working conditions:  There are enough places on the table for the documents and your own stuff. To my experience, it tended to be rather chilly in there, so be sure to be warmly dressed or at least take a jacket, even in the summer time.


Consultation: Once you are done with the finding aids, you can order the documents you found. It is best to do so when you arrive.


Policy on technology:  Everything is provided for the use of a laptop. Personal scanners are not allowed. I am not sure about digital cameras.


Photocopy policy:  For paper documents, you have to put in a request to do photocopies and fill out the form. Once the copies are done, the firm in charge of the photocopying will send them to you. You should reckon with at least 2 weeks for a national packet. It may take longer for international shipping. If you have microfiches and wish to copy a document, you can do it yourself. Their microfiches readers have a printer. Both ways are expensive. 


Particularities:  The Bundesarchiv does have a cafeteria where researchers can eat as well as employees. It is not 3-star cuisine but in any case is better than any other sandwich. My tip: don’t go too late (12:30 is a good bet). German people are used to having lunch rather early, i.e. around noon and, if you arrive at 1pm, the choice tends to be limited. Their coffee is not great (usually boiled) but caffeine supply is always welcomed, isn’t it? 


How to apply for classified files: Never did it. 


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: N/A


General Assessment:  All historians doing research on German History should go the BAK. They have the papers of most of the ministries (with exception of the Foreign ministry which has its own in Berlin: see my Easy Archive Tip on Politisches Archiv des Auswärtiges Amts) as well as personal papers of leading politicians or federal employees. It is a good complement to the research you can do in other archives. And, of course, it has great opening hours. It is really perfect if you are only in Koblenz for a small amount of time and wish to do as much as possible in a few days. They also have a library whose main focus is the history of the German Federal Republic. Researchers interested in consulting the latter can request permission. 

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