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Learn about research into heroes and heroization for yourself

At its conclusion, the University of Freiburg’s CRC 948 presents the results of its research in a special exhibition in Berlin and on an online portal

Freiburg, Jun 24, 2024

Learn about research into heroes and heroization for yourself

Graphic: SFB 948 / Amadeus Tkocz

After twelve years, collaborative research centre (CRC) 948 Heroes, Heroizations, Heroisms is bringing its research at the University of Freiburg to an end on 30 June 2024. The results of the transdisciplinary research form the basis for two science communication projects: the exhibition ‘Prinzip Held*’ at the Military History Museum in Berlin-Gatow, and the online portal

‘Prinzip Held*’ exhibition at the Military History Museum in Berlin-Gatow

From 21 June to 3 November 2024, the Military History Museum of the German armed forces at the Berlin-Gatow airfield is holding the ‘Prinzip Held*’ special exhibition on heroizations and heroisms. The exhibition will not only present heroes, but make the genesis of the heroic accessible. After all, heroes are not born, they are created by the communities that heroize them. So what exactly happens when someone is declared to be a hero? The special exhibition investigates this question through a total of 44 case studies from numerous regions of the world and epochs. The case studies are embedded in 44 installations made from old military equipment.

The exhibition was produced in cooperation between CRC 948, the German Armed Forces’ Centre of Military History and Social Sciences (ZMSBw) and its Military History Museum (MHMBw). It was produced by the Berlin theatre collective Rimini Protokoll. “With Prinzip Held*, CRC 948 is placing higher education research in the public sphere in a new form of cooperation and science communication,” says Professor Ralf von den Hoff, head of CRC 948. “Higher education research benefits from exactly such an alliance with extramural partners through debates and unexpected challenges.”

Heroicum online portal

On the online portal visitors can themselves discover different cultures of the heroic in history and the present day. The components from which heroes are made, and what unites heroic figures and history can be seen in numerous examples, from heroic objects such as Harry Potter’s wand through heroic deeds such as Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery to heroic deaths such as that of Socrates.

Besides a summary of the research results, extensive access to the publications of the CRC and interviews, the portal offers interactive elements. Using a ‘hero components kit’, you can experiment with making a hero out of a nondescript character. Documents for various teaching units are available for school classes – for example, on the subject of ‘knights’ including an online game of chivalry.

CRC 948 Heroes, Heroizations, Heroisms

Since 2012, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has funded Freiburg’s CRC 948, which studied the heroic as a social phenomenon from antiquity to the present day in various interdisciplinary sub-projects. It drew on disciplines ranging across history, literary and art history, classical archaeology, Islamic studies, sinology, sociology, theology, musicology and philosophy. Knowledge transfer and outreach projects such as the online portal and the ‘Prinzip Held*’ exhibition are intended to contribute to a synthesis and sustainable usability of the CRC’s research work.


University and Science Communications
University of Freiburg
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