Press Releases

Press Release, 05/09/2019

The Gerda Henkel Foundation presents its annual report and looks back at 2018 –
€15.8 million for global research

In 2018 the Gerda Henkel Foundation sponsored research projects to the tune of €15.8 million. This represents a slight increase on 2017. Last year, the Foundation approved financing for 360 projects in the field of the historical humanities and related disciplines in 43 countries. In its new annual report the Foundation outlines its main initiatives and presents some of the individual projects funded (

Examples of projects from the annual report: “Breeding Humans” in history and children in wars
The desire for super-efficient human beings is no new concept. Back in the early modern era economists and medics started looking for ways to produce perfect “subjects”. By the 19th century eugenics had developed into an independent science. Now, with the backing of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Prof. Maren Lorenz (Bochum) has investigated the utopias of “breeding humans”. As demonstrated by her book “Menschenzucht. Frühe Ideen und Strategien 1500–1870” (Breeding humans. Early ideas and strategies 1500–1870) the boundaries between what could be talked about and what was socially feasible drifted further and further apart ( An interview with the historian about the subject is available on the L.I.S.A. SCIENCE PORTAL GERDA HENKEL FOUNDATION (

The everyday lives of many children throughout the world are characterised by violence and armed conflict. Both state and non-governmental armies use child soldiers. Dr Roos van der Haer (Leiden, Netherlands) is investigating what effects wars have on children and what role armed groups play in children’s development – a question to which research to date has come up with completely contradictory answers. The political scientist is interviewing 300 children and young people, including former child soldiers, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that represents one of the worst crisis regions in terms of protecting children and young people. The results are evaluated on the basis of the “Social Capital Integrated Questionnaire” developed by the World Bank and also made available to non-governmental organisations ( ). The Gerda Henkel Foundation has commissioned a video documentary on the project, which is currently in production. Once filming is complete, editorial offices will be able to request footage for their reporting free of charge.

The Gerda Henkel Foundation was established in June 1976 by Lisa Maskell in memory of her mother Gerda Henkel as an incorporated foundation under civil law, headquartered in Düsseldorf. The Gerda Henkel Foundation concentrates its support on the historical humanities. In some of the programmes the Foundation furthermore addresses issues of great relevance to contemporary life and the future, above all as part of its special programme “Security, Society and the State”. As part of the Lisa Maskell Fellowship programme, the Foundation supports young scholars in the humanities in both Africa and Southeast Asia. With its “Patrimonies” funding initiative it promotes the preservation of the cultural heritage, specifically in regions experiencing crisis. Research that places current challenging issues in a greater historical context form the focus of the “Democracy as Utopia, Experience and Threat” and “Lost Cities” funding programmes. In connection with funded projects, the Foundation also provides assistance for social support measures as part of complementary projects. The Gerda Henkel Foundation can by virtue of its statutes pursue its objectives both inside and outside Germany.

Gerda Henkel Foundation press office
Dr Sybille Wüstemann
Telephone +49 211 93 65 24 - 19
Telefax +49 211 93 65 24 44