Dr. Nikolai Wehrs

Research Associate
Email: Nikolai.Wehrs@uni-konstanz.de


Research Interests

  •  The German Federal Republic since 1949
  •  History of the Interwar-Period and the Weimar Republic
  •  Contemporary Intellectual History
  •  History of the Universities and the Humanities


    Research Project

    Bureaucratic Elites in the Age of Mass Democracy - The Civil Service and his Role in the British Political Culture during the Twentieth Century

    The project examines the role of the United Kingdom´s Home Civil Service within the British political culture in the 20th Century. On the basis of this it aims to analyse the continuity and change in the influence of professional bureaucratic elites on plitical decision-making processes and the forming of the political will, given the rise of political equality and mass participation in western liberal democratics since the World One War. The focus is on the civil service´s administrative grades, i.e. the higher civil servants on the top of the British government´s departments ("Whitehall").

    As a permanent government service the civil service and its unelected officials are officially obliged to keep themself above party lines and to give the government of the day strictly non-commmitted matter-of-fact advice only. But nonetheless the cicil service is rumoured to hold an actually strong influence on the political decision-making of the government. After all, his senior officials inevitably posses almost always much more government experience than their frequently rotated ministers. The project examines the degree and the effects of the polical influence of the civil service. Furthermore, it investigates the political role of the higher ministerial bureaucracy in connection with the civil service´s esprit de corps. Until the late 20th century the civil service featured a very specific class consciousness, that originated from its recruitment from a highly literate elite as well as from a special proximity to the British monarchy. But the elitist composition and the political role of the civil service has also been time and again a topic of fervid public debates in the United Kingdom. Demands for civil service reform kept prime ministers occupied from the days of Churchhill to those of Blair, just as novelists like C.P. Snow and TV satirists ("Yes Minister"). By analysing these public debates the project finally aims to tackle processes of change in the public understanding of state and government in the age of mass democracy.

    Scientific Career


    Research Scholar at the German Historical Institute London

    Since 2015
    Senior Research Fellow for Contemporary History at the University of Konstanz, Department for History and Sociology


    Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam for the Joint Reserch Project "History of the Interior Ministries in Bonn and East Berlin"


    Research Fellow at European University Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder, Department for Cultural Sciences, for the DFG-Project "Ernst Troeltsch - Kritische Gesamtausgabe" (Editor for Volume 14: Spectator-Briefe und Berliner Briefe, 1919-22).


    Ph.D. ("summa cum laude") at the Humboldt University of Berlin


    Postgraduate Research assistant  at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Department of History


    Postgraduate research assistant at the Centre for Contemporary History (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung) in Potsdam

    Studies of Modern History, Ancient History and German Literature in Freiburg and Berlin, graduated as Master of Arts ("Magister Artium")