Karl Schlögel was born in the Swabian town of Hawangen near Memmingen in 1948. After completin his community service, he began his studies in Philosophy, History, Sociology and Slavonic Studies at the Free University Berlin in 1969. He spent many research periods at the universities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In 1981 he obtained his doctorate with a thesis about workers’ conflicts in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union. Seen from an academic perspective, Schlögel’s career is quite unusual. He was a freelance author and translator for several years, wrote articles for various dailies and weeklies, and whether he would continue his research as an academic or a writer was not clear. Finally he combined both professions and became an author of historical and analytical books and a university lecturer. In 1990 he accepted the Chair for East European History at the University of Konstanz. Since 1994, Schlögel has been a professor in the same discipline at the European University Viadrina, which was founded in Frankfurt (Oder) in 1991 in order to encourage and co-shape the process of international merger.
»To be a historian means to tell about history and to be able to write history«, Schlögel remarked in a conversation with Hermann Horstkotte. He is an excellent representative of this species, as he has shown in his impressive discussions about Eastern Europe and Russia, in particular, in his books »Die Mitte liegt ostwärts. Europa im Übergang« (1986, new edition 2002, tr.: The Centre is in the East. Europe in Transition), »Marjampole. Europas Wiederkehr aus dem Geist der Städte« (2005; tr.: Marjampole. Europe’s Revival Born of the Spirit of the City) and »Das russische Berlin. Ostbahnhof Europas« (2007; tr.: Russian Berlin. East Station of Europe). These works are not only based on investigations and facts, but also on Schlögel’s own everyday observations, e.g. in his extraordinary city portrait »Moskau lesen« (1984, tr.: Reading Moscow), the re-edition of which was published in 2011 and an excellent documentation of and reflection on the transformations of the last decades. In »Terror und Traum. Moskau 1937« (2008; tr.: Moscow – Terror and Dream) Schlögel once again discusses the metropolis, however, he focuses on the climax of Stalin’s dictatorship. Yet, Schlögel is more than a chronicler. He has also dealt with the theoretical problems of historiography and developed his own methodology in »Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit« (2003; tr.: In Space We Read the Time), which is vital for the understanding of his oeuvre.
Schlögel has received numerous awards for his historiographic and essayistic works, including the European Essay Prize Charles Veillon (1990), the Anna Krüger Award from the Institute for Advanced Study of Berlin (1999), the Sigmund Freud Award for Scientific Prose (2004), the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding (2009) and recently the Hoffmann von Fallersleben Prize for Topical Literature (2012). Schlögel lives in Berlin.
© internationales literaturfestival berlin