Decide whether the archive of the Federal Foreign Office is in fact the best source for your research or whether it would be better to consult other archives with holdings concerning foreign policy.
Check the online guide to holdings to see whether the Political Archive has anything relevant to the subject of your research. The better you prepare for your visit, the better we can help you.
Read publications about your subject. The sources and references in them will give you important pointers to relevant holdings. You can go through these record groups systematically in the Reading Room.
Check whether files are already accessible for the period you are interested in.
Apply for permission to use the archive. Describe your topic as precisely as possible, so that we can point out relevant holdings.
Did you already get the permission to use our archive? In that case, you can arrange an appointment and pre-order files. Please get in touch at least two weeks in advance to your visit since the reading room has limited seating. At peak times the Reading Room might be fully booked.
Read through our research guidelines. That will save you a lot of time and effort in the Reading Room!
When you arrive
Access to the Reading Room
The Reading Room is located in the Federal Foreign Office in central Berlin.
The Federal Foreign Office is a security restricted area. Please understand that certain security measures are required, in particular security checks.
Use the entrance at Kurstrasse 36, where you will exchange your valid ID card or passport for a visitor’s pass.
Follow the signs to the Reading Room. No coats, jackets, bags, food or drink may be taken into the Reading Room. These must be left in the lockers directly outside the Reading Room (you will need a €1 or €2 coin for the lockers). You will be given a see-through bag for your working materials.
In the Reading Room
Please go to the staff desk and fill in the necessary forms. The Reading Room staff will help you to use the finding aids and, if you have any substantive questions, will arrange for you to talk to a specialist.
The Reading Room has 27 work stations, some of which are equipped with microfiche readers. There are sockets for plugging in your laptop. Wi-Fi is available. The Reading Room also has a reference library with volumes of collected documents and studies on the history of German foreign policy.
Handling archival material
All the documents in the Political Archive are irreplaceable! Please handle the material with the utmost care, observe the Regulations for Users of the Reading Room (Reading Room Regulations and Regulations for the Use of the Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office) and follow the staff’s instructions. Documents must not be removed from the Reading Room, damaged, stained or soiled. You must not write on them, stick anything on them or put them into a different order. Items such as padded strip weights and foam wedges are available from the Reading Room staff. These aids will help you to deal correctly with unwieldy archival material.
Telephones, loud conversations, food and drink are not allowed in the Reading Room. There is a seating area with a vending machine for drinks outside the Reading Room.