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The Italian-German Historical Institute was founded in 1973 as a section of the then Istituto Trentino di Cultura. The latter had been the driving force behind the creation of a university at Trento, and went on to set up institutes to promote excellence and advanced research.
The “Italian-German Historical Institute in Trento” was the first nucleus and shared in the success story of a formation that would grow considerably in time, especially when a scientific and technological research unit was set up alongside the humanities sector (which also contained an Institute for Religious Science).
In 2007 the Istituto Trentino di Cultura, a practical arm of the Trento Autonomous Province, was transformed into a Foundation with legal status under private law. It was named after Bruno Kessler, the Trento politician to whose energy and commitment the university and higher research structures at Trento were owed.
The original thrust in setting up a top-level history centre came from Professor Paolo Prodi who led the Institute from its inception until 1997. Prodi’s period being the Age of Reformation and Counter-Reformation, he worked to make the Institute a place where the traditional cultural exchanges and dialogue between the Latin and Germanic worlds could find an ideal base for reflection on the roots of that idem sentire de re publica which had given rise to modern European civilization.
This line was pursued under Professor Giorgio Cracco’s leadership (1998-2005), by Professor Gian Enrico Rusconi (2005-2010) and by Professor Paolo Pombeni (2010-2016). Since Februar 2017 the Director has been Professor Christoph Cornelißen. Today the Italian-German Historical Institute is an offshoot of the Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK) governed by a Board of Administrators chaired by Professor Francesco Profumo. Within the Foundation, the Institute preserves its scientific and cultural independence, but benefits from the handsome backing of a complex research institution that has made a name as one of the best non-university research facilities in Europe.