As one of ten German historical institutes worldwide funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the GHIP is part of the Max Weber Foundation, a legal entity closely linked to the German Federal Government and located in Bonn. Committed to the promotion of exchange and mutual understanding through the humanities the institute plays a leading role in the dialogue between Germany and France, particularly with regard to academic and sociopolitical issues. Besides France, Germany and Franco-German relations research projects focus on Western Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the digital humanities. Since 1994, the researchers of the GHIP have been working in the Hôtel Duret-de-Chevry, a hôtel particulier in the centrally located quarter Marais.
The idea to found a German Historical Institute in Paris was already “an old favorite idea of the medievalist and later president of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica Paul Fridolin Kehr, but the founding process stagnated early on in 1902/03. A new attempt was launched in 1941, again by a German medievalist, Theodor Mayer who wanted to underpin a “general German claim to leadership in Europe. In the end, disputes about responsibilities delayed the project, which was eventually abandoned in the course of World War II.
It was no longer the will to dominate, but rather the striving for exchange and mediation among German and French historians that led to the founding of the “Deutsche Historische Forschungsstelle” (German Historical Research Center), which was inaugurated on 21 November 1958. It was financed with German federal government grants and worked under the umbrella organization “Wissenschaftliche Kommission zur Erforschung der deutsch-französischen Beziehungen” (Academic Commission on Franco-German Relations), based in Mainz. Its managing director, the medievalist Eugen Ewig, is regarded as the institute’s founder. The academic intentions behind its foundation were tied to the process of Franco-German reconciliation after World War II. After many years of negotiations, one year after the signing of the Élysée Treaty, the German Historical Research Center in Paris was permanently institutionalized: on 1 July 1964, it was renamed “German Historical Institute Paris” and turned into a dependent institution under the responsibility of the Federal Minister for Scientific Research. The medievalist Alois Wachtel from Bonn became its first director in 1966.