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ESR Lisa Haberkern joins the Kulturwerk Schlesien foundation as Managing Director

In October 2020 Lisa Haberkern started to work as managing director of a foundation called “Kulturwerk Schlesien” in Würzburg, Germany. The “Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien/Fundacjia dla Kultury Śląska/Kulturní nadace Slezsko” concerns itself with research, information and collecting artefacts connected to the region of Silesia. Silesia, in fact Upper Silesia, was also the place where Lisa spent her time as a CHIBOW ESR at the Silesian University in Katowice where she started to prepare her PHD in history.

A major part of the Silesia is located in the southwest of Poland, minor parts are in the very east of Germany and in northern Czech Republic. As a border region Silesia experienced many shifts of borders. The Second World War and its aftermath was the most recent in a long line of caesuras shaping the region, but also the year 1921 was significant, as the Upper Silesian Plebiscite took place and the belonging of the region to Germany or to the re-established Republic of Poland was decided by the region’s population.

© Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien

Next to other institutions the “Kulturwerk Schlesien” was founded in the 1950s in the Federal Republic of Germany by Silesian researchers, literati, and artists, who had lost their “Heimat” due to the post WWII border shifts. Its aim was to support Silesian artists and scientists, to distribute information about the region and to further historical research on the topic of Silesia. With the fall of the iron curtain the means and methods to do so changed, and cooperation with Silesians within the region became more and more possible and prevalent. As Silesia was the ground for first steps in German-Polish reconciliation long before 1989, the picture of Polish head of Government Tadeusz Mazowiecki and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the Silesian Kzyszowa/Kreisau at a reunification celebration was a beacon of hope far beyond Poland and Germany.

Lisa's job is a mix of research, research funding, publishing, and administration. Coordinating, editing, and contributing to the foundation’s quarterly magazine “Schlesischer Kulturspiegel”, advising newcomers to the field of genealogy or researchers from different fields of the humanities and keeping the foundations finances in order are some examples of the day-to-day-business. When organizing the foundations annual convention, the job includes everything from proposing a topic to the board, to making sure that the schedule works out. In comparison to a university, the foundation’s structures are quite different: it consists of a board of trustees, a board of directors, and a foundation advisory board. All the positions are held by researchers, experts in the field of history, literature, or bordering fields and activists. The members of the board of trustees and the board of directors outline the goals and instruct Lisa to fulfil them. Next to Lisa the foundation employs an administrator which makes them a two-women team.

In hindsight, the training Lisa received as a CHIBOW ESR in combination with her position at the University of Silesia in Katowice gave her the confidence and skills needed for a position like this.

Spending three years in Poland improved her language skills substantially, helped her learn to understand the world of Polish academia and gave her the chance to forge a professional network. Being introduced to EC procedures is a major help while dealing with public funding by the State of Bavaria, which is now institutionally funding the Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien. Last but not least, the PhD project she is completing will be finished while she is establishing herself in a job that very much resembles what she always pictured herself doing: working close to academia while holding a job with an emphasis on communicating scientific knowledge towards a wider public. The fact that this is centred around a topic that she studied and is passionate about makes it all the better.

If you are interested in the Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien”, would like to use our archive or collections for your research, or have questions about the region, the foundation invites you to write, call or visit.

The “Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien” is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labour and Social Affairs.

Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien

Kardinal-Döpfner-Platz 1

97070 Würzburg


+49(0) 931/5 36 96

Quarterly magazine “Schlesischer Kulturspiegel”:

If you would like to receive the “Schlesischer Kulturspiegel” you can order the print or PDF version. Please fill in the order form:


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