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Ostforschung (German: Eastern Studies, Eastern Research or Research of the East) is an outdated term which in general describes any German research of areas to the East of Germany since the 18th century. Like Western Studies, it is a form of area studies. From the onset of the Cold War, the research field was partially succeeded by or encompassed by the western research field Soviet and Communist Studies, in particular in regard to research of political and geostrategic issues, with the main focus on the Soviet Union. The less political research tradition is today generally known as Eastern European Studies, which is more recently also included in the broader field of European studies, especially in regard to the countries to the west of Russia which were formerly under Soviet domination or occupation.

The term Ostforschung itself remained in use in some journals and names of institutes throughout the Cold War, but was replaced by more specific terms by the 1990s. For example, the journal „Zeitschrift für Ostforschung“, established in 1952, was renamed „Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung“ in 1994. The term Ostforschung is now considered outdated by modern German historians.[1]

Since the 1990s, the historical Ostforschung itself is a subject of historic research. Ostforschung studies before the Cold War often reflected Western European prejudices of the time towards Poles.[1]

Ostforschung was also the name of a multi-disciplined organization set up before World War II by Albert Brackmann and several other historians and anthropologists to co-ordinate German research on Eastern Europe, mainly the Second Polish Republic.

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  1. ^ a b Karin Friedrich (2006), The Other Prussia: Royal Prussia, Poland and Liberty, 1569-1772. Cambridge University Press, page 5, page 13 [1]


  • Burleigh, Michael. Germany Turns Eastwards: A Study of Ostforschung in the Third Reich.
  • Auf den Spuren der Ostforschung; Eine Sammlung von Beiträgen der Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur Bekämpfung der westdeutschen "Ostforschung" beim Institut für Geschichte der europäischen Volksdemokratien, Leipzig 1962