Modern German and  European History, Military History and Women’s and Gender History
(19th – 20th centuries)

Including the following fields:

  •  comparative and transnational history,
  •  family history,
  •  history of education,
  •  history of  everyday lives,
  •  history of experiences, memories and identities,
  •  history of masculinity,
  •  history of the military, war and violence,
  •  history of nation and nationalism,
  •  history of political concepts and culture,
  •  history of welfare states and social and population policy,
  •  history of the women’s movement,
  •  labor history, the history of working-class culture and the labor  movement,
  • oral history.



Forgotten Soldiers:  Women, the Military and War in Modern European History


Women’s military service took on increasing significance during the wars of the twentieth century. Women were already deployed as nurses and military auxiliaries in the First World War. During the Second World War, the American, British and German armed forces recruited hundreds of mainly young and unmarried women to serves as nurses and auxiliaries, or Etappenhelferinnen as they were known in German. Women also served as soldiers in the Soviet Red Army as well as the partisan units and popular liberation armies that fought the Wehrmacht in eastern and southern Europe. Although women were quickly demobilized and forgotten everywhere after 1945, some continued to serve in the military, albeit in very small percentages in both eastern and western armed forces, which only began to grow gradually from the 1980s. They played a far larger role in the liberation armies of the anti-colonial wars in Asia and Africa between the 1940s and the 1980s.

The book project undertakes a comparative study of women’s military deployment in war with a focus on modern Europe between 1600 and 2000 and how it has changed since the early modern period. It shows that women already played an important role in the baggage trains of the early modern armies, which waned temporarily in the course of the nineteenth century with the advent of mass armies and the professionalization of the military and increased again beginning with the First World War. It analyzes the wartime experiences of the mobilized women, contemporary perceptions of them and their place in collective memories of war. The central question is why – across the boundaries of nation and economic-political systems – it long remained so difficult for the military, politics and society to accept and remember women’s active participation in the military, above all their capability for combat.

Read more on DIE ZEIT Online, 17 May 2015: Karen Hagemann, “Die vergessenen  Soldatinnen”.

Read more in The Berlin Journal, Spring 2015: Karen Hagemann, “Good Soldiers: Women and the Military in World War II”.  (PDF)

You can also listen to the Panel Discussion on “Anti War: Rethinking the Twentieth Century”, Australian Public Radio, Brisbane, 30 July 2014.


Broken Progress: Men, Women and the Transformation of the East- and West German History Profession since 1945


The project examines the change in historical profession in East and West Germany and the factors that fostered and prevented it from the perspective of the history of experience and gender. The focus is the development in early modern, modern and contemporary history. I intend to explore the change in the social composition of researchers and teachers, the historiographical approaches and the courses offered between the 1960s and 1990s. This period allows me to compare not only the development in the two German states, but also the short and long-term effects of German reunification. The project combines the evaluation of written sources and university archives with oral history interviews by male and female historians born in the 1930s to the late 1950s, as well as the development of a questionnaire-based digital cohort profile and a network analysis. A total of 60 interviews are planned so far; seventeen of them with historians from the GDR. 30 interviews were carried out in summer 2019.  30 more will be carried out in the summer of 2020.