ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) is Germany’s oldest intermediary organisation for international cultural relations. It promotes a peaceful and enriching coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. ifa supports artistic and cultural exchange in exhibition, dialogue and conference programmes, and it acts as a centre of excellence for international cultural relations. It is part of a global network and relies on sustainable, long-term partnerships.
It is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital Stuttgart.



ifa Alumni are former funding recipients, representatives and experts involved in cultural exchange, dialogue and communication worldwide. They are artists, curators, active in cultural management and in research about culture and foreign policy, and they are committed to the freedom of the arts, expression and information. ifa is dedicated to network with currently more than a thousand alumni in order for them to jointly develop new initiatives and projects.

Find out more

Friends’ Association

The Friends’ Association was founded in 2006 with the aim of supporting ifa in its continual commitment as a cultural mediator and competence centre.

Find out more

Jobs and Career

Current job announcements, research projects and internships

Find out more

Martin Roth Symposium

The Martin Roth Symposium, named after one of the most notable museum directors, aims to honour his groundbraking achievements on behalf of the developement of cultural and social topics by perpetuating his ideas.

Find out more

Lecture Programme of the German Federal Government

Since its implementation by ifa in 1995, the aim of the Lecture Programme of the German Federal Government has been to convey a current and multi-layered image of Germany abroad.

Find out more

Organisation Chart

Find out more

Theodor Wanner Award

Since 2009, ifa has given the Theodor Wanner Award on persons who, by virtue of their scientific, scholarly, social, socio-political, artistic, entrepreneurial or financial engagement, have made outstanding contributions to the dialogue of cultures.

Find out more

Totally Glocally

In the event series 'Totally Glocally. Stuttgart Talks', ifa addresses current questions about the interaction between global and local structures.

Find out more


Promoting social change in Tunisia with music: The project supports schoolchildren in coordinating their own concerts throughout Tunisia, and with the establishment of extracurricular music clubs, young people learn to organise themselves according to democratic principles.

Find out more

Visitors‘ Programme of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Visitors‘ Programme of the Federal Republic of Germany offers participants the possibility to network and exchange views on current socio-political topics during a one-week stay.

Find out more

Mission Statement

  • Our Mission

    ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) promotes cultural exchange to assist peoples, nations and religions in learning from one another and living together peacefully. Cultures are changeable, movable and permeable, yet they are also conservative and restrictive. They can cause conflicts, but they can also transform and resolve conflicts.
    Cultural exchange means commitment to peace. We are committed to achieving peace and justice, protecting human livelihoods and cultures and attaining a united Europe. Human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information are objectives and cornerstones of our work.
    Dialogue reveals cultural diversity as a valuable asset. Dialogue involves all people equally in shaping our future – in a process that is both open and meaningful. That is why we strive to bring people closer together.

  • Our Work

    ifa initiates intercultural dialogue. A broad array of exhibitions, meetings, dialogues and conferences promotes exchange in arts and culture. Our conflict resolution programme helps build and maintain peaceful societies. Support projects for cultural minorities foster cultural diversity.
    ifa is Germany’s international cultural and educational relations body, providing a link between practical issues arising in the field and the world of scholarship as well as the media. We initiate, analyse, moderate and document debates on international cultural relations.
    ifa gives people worldwide the opportunity to find out more about Germany. Exchange programmes, exhibitions, books and magazines, lectures and visitors’ programmes offer innovative perspectives from contemporary Germany.

  • Our Approach

    ifa operates worldwide from a firm European base. We are active in cultural, educational, civil society, political and media networks, because we believe that cooperation is the only way to a better future.
    ifa projects integrate the needs of target groups. These include young people and young professionals, media and cultural professionals as well as scholars and academics. We cooperate with political and cultural institutions, non-governmental organisations and policy makers. 
    ifa is a reliable partner. Our highly committed team is well-versed in all aspects of intercultural communication.

Persons, Advisory Councils and Executive Committee

President of ifa

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Ulrich Raulff has been President of ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) since 1 October 2018. Ulrich Raulff was born in Hülseberg near Meinerzhagen in 1950. He studied philosophy and history in Marburg, Frankfurt and Paris, earning his PhD in 1977. From 1978 to 1993 he was a freelance translator and employee of several German publishing companies, newspapers and TV stations. He qualified as a professor in Cultural Studies at the Humboldt-University of Berlin in 1995. From 1994 to 2001 he was a literary editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, from 1997 chief literary editor, and from 2001 to 2004 he was senior literary editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. From November 2004 to September 2018 Ulrich Raulff was director of the German Literature Archive Marbach.

ifa-President Ulrich Raulff, photo: ifa / Constant Formé-Bécherat
Photo: ifa / Constant Formé-Bécherat

Secretary General of ifa

Ronald Grätz is the Secretary General of ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen). Before assuming his current position at ifa, he was director of the Goethe-Institut in Portugal. Ronald Grätz worked as Division Director for German Language at the UNESCO scheme Colégio Benjamin Constant in São Paulo, of which he was also deputy director. In 1993, he qualified as a lecturer at the Goethe-Institut in Munich, Cairo and Goettingen and worked as consultant for pedagogical support and as a teacher with the Goethe-Institut in Barcelona from 1994 to 1998. From 2002 to 2005, Ronald Grätz was a consultant for new media and the director of local programme activities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the Goethe-Institut in Moscow.

ifa Secretary General Ronald Grätz, photo: ifa / Victoria Tomaschko
Photo: ifa / Victoria Tomaschko

Advisory Councils and Executive Committee

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee sets the guidelines and priorities for ifa's activities. It is also responsible for the election and dismissal of the President and Secretary General. Executive Committee meetings are held at least twice a year. The term of office of a member of the Executive Committee is three full business years, whereby two re-elections are possible.

  • Members
    • Prof Dr Götz Adriani, Director of the Kunsthalle Tübingen (emeritus), 2nd Vice President
    • Dr jur Bernt Graf zu Dohna, General Counsel (emeritus) of the Robert-Bosch GmbH, 1st Vice President
    • Petra Drexler, Head of Division 606, Federal Foreign Office
    • Dr Ursula Eid, former State Secretary
    • Dr Andreas Görgen, Head of the Department of Culture and Communication, Federal Foreign Office
    • Dr Fabian Mayer, Deputy Mayor in Charge of Culture, City of Stuttgart
    • Prof Dr Dr hc Ulrich Raulff, President of ifa
    • Prof Dr Joachim Rogall, Chairman of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH
    • Dr Claudia Rose, Assistant Secretary, Head of the Art Department, Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts
    • Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, former Deputy Director-General World Health Organization

Advisory Council of the Alexander Rave-Foundation

The Advisory Council of the Alexander Rave-Foundation decides on the use of funds by the Foundation: the awarding of scholarships for the promotion of science and research, art and culture, education and advanced training, and the cultivation of heritage. The Council, which meets twice-yearly, is appointed for a four-year term.

  • Members
    • Dr jur Bernt Graf zu Dohna, General Counsel (emeritus) of the Robert-Bosch GmbH
    • Ronald Grätz, Secretary General of ifa
    • Dr Ulrike Groos, Director, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
    • Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, former Deputy Director-General World Health Organization
    • Prof Dr Dr hc Ulrich Raulff, President of ifa as a permanent guest member

Editorial Board of KULTURAUSTAUSCH

The editorial board of the journal KULTURAUSTAUSCH meets once a year to provide feedback on the issues published in the previous year and to discuss topics for the next four issues. Thanks to their extensive expertise, the board members, coming from various fields of culture and politics, bring with them a wide range of perspectives and thus strengthen the diversity of the magazine.

  • Members
    • Johannes Ebert, Secretary General, Goethe-Institut, Munich
    • Prof Dr Naika Fouratan, Deputy Director of the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM), Humboldt University Berlin
    • Jenny Friedrich-Freksa, Editor-in-Chief of KULTURAUSTAUSCH, ifa Berlin
    • Theo Geißler, publisher, ConBrio Verlag, Regensburg
    • Ronald Grätz, Secretary General, ifa
    • Ebba Scholl, Deputy Head of Section 600, Strategy and Planning, Federal Foreign Office, Berlin
    • Sebastian Körber, Deputy Secretary General and Head of the Media Department, ifa Stuttgart
    • Jagoda Marinić, writer and journalist, Heidelberg
    • Evelyn Roll, journalist, Berlin
    • Dr Claudia Schmölders, cultural scientist, Berlin
    • Aleš Šteger, poet and author, Ljubljana

Research Advisory Council

The ifa Research Council meets to discuss developments in international cultural relations and develops research topics. It brings together political, scientific, scholarly and civil society perspectives and thus strengthens the relevance and sustainability of research and research communication on foreign cultural and educational policy.

  • Members
    • Prof Dr Helmut Anheier, former President of the Hertie School of Governance
    • Petra Drexler, Head of Division 606, Federal Foreign Office
    • Dr Barbara Göbel, Director of the Ibero-American Institute, Berlin
    • Ronald Grätz, Secretary General of the ifa, Stutttgart
    • Sebastian Körber, Deputy Secretary General and Head of Media Department, ifa, Stuttgart
    • Thomas Krüger, President of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn
    • Jan Melissen, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Netherlands Clingendael Institute of International Relations and Senior Fellow in International Relations and Diplomacy, Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University
    • Dr Verena Metze-Mangold, former President of the German UNESCO Commission
    • Prof Dr Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha, Director of the Centre for Applied Cultural Studies and Studium Generale (ZAK), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Chairwoman of WIKA (Scientific Initiative Group on Culture and Foreign Affairs)
    • Dr Odila Triebel, Head of Dialogue and Research „Culture and Foreign Policy“, ifa, Stuttgart
    • Dr Helga Trüpel, former MEP and vice-chair of the Committee on Culture and Education

Art Advisory Board

The Art Advisory Board, which meets twice a year, advises the ifa on questions of contemporary art and exhibition work. The members are appointed for three years and can be re-elected twice.

History of the ifa

  • The Founding

    On January 10th, 1917 the forerunner of today’s ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) was founded in Stuttgart, Germany. The ‘Museum and Institute of German Foreign Affairs and the Promotion of German Interests Abroad’ was in the same year re-named as ‘German Foreign Institute’ (Deutsches Ausland-Institut / DAI), and it was based on the idea and efforts of the Stuttgart businessman Theodor Wanner (1875–1955). The institute received joint support from the German Empire, the Kingdom of Württemberg, and the city of Stuttgart. At the official opening of the institute, the King of Württemberg, Wilhelm II, called it ‘a work of peace in the midst of war.’

  • Postwar Years and the Weimar Republic: The Reconstruction Phase

    At the end of the war in 1918 DAI was determined to improve Germany’s tattered reputation in the world and the social conditions of German nationals living abroad. The institute subsequently became responsible not only for emigration counselling and supporting German nationals abroad, but also for the organization of exhibitions and the publication of periodicals. Furthermore, the scientific character of the institute was strengthened by a specialized foreign studies library, a press and news service, as well as its extensive archive. At this time DAI was led by Theodor Wanner along with the political scientist and journalist Fritz Wertheimer (1884–1968), who was appointed Secretary General of DAI on October 1st, 1918. During the Weimar Republic, the DAI was structured into various departments which were divided by regions and domains. In 1926 a North America department was added. By 1926/27 the institute had a staff of about fifty people. In the spring of 1925 the DAI moved into a converted orphanage on Charlottenplatz in Stuttgart which was redesigned by Paul Schmitthenner. The building was christened ‘The House of German Culture’ (‘Haus des Deutschtums’) in 1924. Along with the facilities for the various departments, the complex included a radio studio that Wanner and Wertheimer employed to produce their own DAI radio broadcast, most of which was transmitted through South German Broadcasting (Süddeutscher Rundfunk or ‘Südfunk’ for short). In addition to Wertheimer’s biweekly publication Der Auslandsdeutsche (Germans Abroad), DAI produced its own book series and scientific compendia. As the DAI started struggling financially in 1928, the exhibition activities were reduced. The institute’s work also became impaired by the political uncertainties and unrest in Germany. Time and again, DAI’s management was exposed to attacks by the emerging radical right-wing powers.

  • The Years during National Socialism

    The Nazi seizure of power presented profound consequences for the DAI. In 1933 the SA occupied the institute’s headquarters and the DAI was co-opted. Fritz Wertheimer emigrated to Brazil after he was dismissed because of his Jewish ancestry in 1938. The founder and chairman, Theodor Wanner, was also removed from office and replaced by the NSDAP mayor of Stuttgart, Karl Strölin (1890–1963). Richard Csaki (1886–1943) became the institute’s director until, shortly afterwards, he relinquished his office to the national socialist Hermann Rüdiger (1889–1946) in 1941. Under this new leadership the institute was misappropriated and the tasks and responsibilities were fundamentally altered. These goals were outlined in the DAI’s 1934 brochure ‘New Tasks of the German Foreign Institute’. According to this, the institute became particularly concerned with propagating the national socialist ideology amongst Germans living abroad and educating them as soldiers for the Third Reich. In no time the DAI was turned into a planning centre for the Volkstumspolitik of the Hitler regime. Their activities included the promotion of German racist policies (‘Rassenpolitik’) and the Germanization (‘Eindeutschung’) of foreign sectors, thereby involving the DAI and others in the preparation, implementation, and utilizations of the occupation of Eastern European territories. There were close, active informational exchanges between the institute and the Gestapo, NSDAP, and the foreign policy offices of the NSDAP. The DAI proved important for the new power and expanded steadily under Nazi leadership. In 1933 the institute staffed 55 people; by the time war broke out in 1939, it was employing 157. At the same time, the budget continually increased. By 1935 the Ministry of Propaganda was also among the contributing sponsors.

  • The DAI and the Second World War

    With the beginning of WWII the DAI expanded its activities, particularly by supporting the Nazi racist propaganda. Moreover, the institute also had a direct impact on the events of the war. As intensive collaboration developed with the SS, the DAI prepared maps that showed the distribution of population groups in Eastern Europe, and thus furnished essential information for resettlements and deportations in the occupied territories. Eventually, through the successful advance of the Allies, the work of the DAI was further and further restricted in the following years until it temporarily closed its doors in 1943.

  • Postwar Era and Re-establishment

    The DAI was by no means unaffected by the Third Reich. Nevertheless, because of a large number of false testimonies and doctored misrepresentations from former staff members, the Allies were under the impression that the DAI had been an innocuous institution during Nazi rule and thereby allowed its existence. July 5th, 1949 marked its re-establishment, and the Deutsche Ausland-Institut was renamed Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa). The official inauguration of the institute followed in 1951 with a celebratory speech by the Federal President Theodor Heuss who called ifa ‘a fundamental school for the communication with foreign countries’ and ‘a crossroad’ of cultural give and take. Franz Thierfelder (1896–1963) was appointed General Secretary of ifa and was responsible for setting it into motion. However, because of his ideological writings during the Third Reich, his appointment as a cultural policy maker was highly controversial. Essentially, Thierfelder repudiated his old ideas and weathered the de-nazification unscathed. According to his notions, from now on the institute should particularly commit itself to making ‘foreignness’ comprehensible and one’s own culture understandable to others. The Federal Foreign Ministry positively received the institute’s departure from the past and acknowledged its efforts with financial support, thereby securing ifa’s long-lasting existence.

  • The New Beginning

    ifa’s new beginning proved difficult. Its reputation was damaged after the Nazi era, many Eastern European ties were broken, and the Cold War was beginning. Moreover, competition with other intermediary organizations like the Goethe-Institut limited its financial scope and lessened its visibility abroad, although this waning interest was also attributable to its previous foreign policy which actually undermined the value of culture. Therefore, the effectiveness of ifa during this time remained rather limited. Still, its activities included emigration counselling, the publication of a magazine (1951-1962 Mitteilungen [Announcements], then called Zeitschrift für Kulturaustausch [Magazine for Cultural Exchange] from 1962 until 2006 when it was changed to KULTURAUSTAUSCH – Zeitschrift für internationale Perspektiven [Cultural Exchange – Magazine for International Perspectives]), the expansion of the library, the shipment of books abroad, and the organization of exhibitions. Only gradually did relationships with other countries warm and ifa’s societal influence and reputation improve. It was not until the 1960s, however, that the institute began to confront its own role during National Socialism. From the beginning of the 1970s, German art was being exhibited abroad. In May of 1971 the ifa Gallery opened in Stuttgart, and then in Bonn in 1980.

  • ifa and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

    The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany brought about significant changes for ifa. In particular, attentions were aroused when ifa planned to acquire the GDR art collection of the former ZfK (Zentrum für Kunstausstellungen, or Center for Art Exhibitions). During the division of Germany, ZfK was the East German equivalent to ifa. Among other things, it was responsible for the organization of exhibitions in the GDR and abroad and for the cultural exchange of the GDR. The ZfK’s art collection included print graphics, works on paper, photography, and paintings from countless East German artists. When the centre was dissolved in 1990, it possessed roughly 10,500 pieces. According to unification agreements, these works were now intended to be merged with ifa’s inventory. This plan was met with great resistance in the territories of the former GDR. Outraged, East German media spoke out about the Stuttgart institute’s “hostile takeover”. As a result, numerous East German museums came together to absorb diverse artworks into their own collections. Under pressure from the media and other museums, 219 pieces of art from the former ZfK’s collection were handed over to a multitude of East German museums a month before they were to be relinquished to ifa.

  • After German Reunification

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Reunification, ifa extended its activities to the new federal states, rigorously endeavouring to purchase artworks from East German artists and exhibit their pieces. To that effect, the ifa Gallery in Berlin was opened in 1991. In addition to that, the institute worked extensively to improve its presence abroad and within Germany’s foreign policy framework. This was also achieved with assistance from various funding programs, including zivik (Zivile Konfliktbearbeitung, or Civil Conflict Resolution), the CrossCulture Programme, and funding for the arts. Its presence was also strengthened through its numerous touring exhibitions, a research program, a specialized library for foreign cultural and educational policy, the magazine KULTURAUSTAUSCH (Cultural Exchange), as well as through a multitude of other publications. The transformative process within Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain also meant that it started to become increasingly involved in the protection of minority groups and in strengthening the European unification process. Furthermore, its focus has starkly turned to the European-Islamic dialogue and to the funding of international peace projects, including humanitarian aid. Its new efforts were also expressed through the Theodor Wanner Award, which ifa initiated in 2009 in order to honour people and organizations that engage in dialogues of culture and dialogues for peace and understanding among nations in an outstanding way. Today ifa considers itself to be an internationally involved ‘cultural mediator’ and a centre of competence for international collaboration and artistic exchange. With its work, support measures, and countless projects, the institute rises to the challenges of today’s globalized and ever changing world.

The ifa Is Funded by

Logo of EUNIC
ifa is an active member EUNIC, the global network of European Union National Institutes for Culture, and its local clusters in Stuttgart and Berlin.