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Eastern Europe Department

History

Beginnings

The first acquisitions related to Eastern Europe, two Croatian Protestant prints in Glagolitic, Cyrillic and Latin letters, came already in 1562 into the personal library of the Brandenburg Elector Joachim II. Until the 18th century, the collection of Eastern European literature grew by occasional gifts and purchases.

Systematic Collection Building

Since the founding of the Berlin University in 1810, the acquisition of Slavic holdings has been pursued more systematically. In the 19th century,  the library received numerous Polish-language prints as legal deposit copies from publishers of the Polish minority in Prussia. In 1856, 49 Serbian manuscripts, the Vuk collection, were acquired. In 1874 Vatroslav Jagić was appointed to the newly founded Chair of Slavic Philology in Berlin. Here, as well as later in Petersburg, he rendered outstanding services to the Rossica collection of the library. Between the two world wars there have been extensive exchange relations with the Soviet Union. 

Becoming a Special Collection

After 1945, the German State Library (Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, GDR), supported by cultural exchange with Eastern European countries, and the Eastern Europe Department (Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, BRD) founded in 1950, ensured the systematic development of collections related to Eastern Europe. With the German reunification the long separated collections were brought together again.

DFG Funding

From 1998 to 2015, the Eastern Europe Department, with support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), was responsible for the expansion of the Special Subject Collection Slavic Languages, Literatures and Folklore. The Slavistik-Portal was set up for the targeted use of this Specialised Information Service. Since 2016, the Specialist Information Service Slavonic Studies at the Eastern Europe Department is funded by the DFG. The aim of the funding is to provide cutting-edge research with specific subject-related information, conventional and electronic resources, and also to expand innovative and comprehensive services for research and science.

The expansion of regional collections on Eastern Europe will be continued on a significant level.