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Professor Annika Mombauer

Professional biography

Annika Mombauer is Professor of Modern European History in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She joined the Open University in 1998. She studied history at the Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany, and at the University of Sussex where she was awarded a D.Phil in History in 1998. In 2003, she was a visiting fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

From 2006 until 2011 she was the Secretary of the German History Society.

She is a member of the Editorial Board of 1914-1918 Online (Encyclopedia of the First World War).

Between 2009 and 2013 she chaired the History Department’s Research Steering Group and the D30 REF panel, and she is currently chairing the D28 panel for REF2021 at the Open University.

From 2014 to 2016, she was Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Arts.

Research interests

Annika Mombauer's research interests are in nineteenth and twentieth-century European history, in particular Imperial Germany and the origins of the First World War, in the history of the First World War and in its historiography.

She has published widely on German military planning in the years before the First World War, and has contributed to the historiographical debate on the nature of the Schlieffen Plan. She has edited primary sources on the origins of the First World War, and published a German language book on the July Crisis of 1914. She is currently working on a comparative history of the Battle of the Marne of 1914 to be published by Cambridge University Press. 

In 2011 she organised, together with Professor John Röhl, an international conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Fritz Fischer’s publication Griff nach der Weltmacht, which sparked the infamous Fischer controversy. The conference took place on 13-15 October 2011 at the German Historical Institute in London. She has edited some of the conference proceedings which were published in a special issue of The Journal of Contemporary History, entitled ‘The Fischer Controversy after 50 Years’ (April 2013; 48, 2).

In May 2019, she organised (with colleagues in the History Department) a Royal Historical Society Symposium entitled Contested Commemorations: Reflections on the centenary of the First World War, 2013-2019, jointly funded by the Royal Historical Society and the Open University.

She would be interested to hear from prospective PhD students wishing to research a topic in modern German or European history.



Die Julikrise. Europas Weg in den Ersten Weltkrieg, Beck Verlag, Munich, 2014

(Also published in Danish: A Mombauer: Julikrisen. Europas Veu ind I Første Verdenskrig, Ellekaer, 2014)

The Origins of the First World War. Controversies and Consensus, Longman, 2002

(Also published in Serbian - ISBN 978-86-7102-452-5 and Croatian translation - ISBN 978-953-303-726-4 - with a new foreword, 2014)

       Find out more about this book IHR review  H-Net review

Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War, Cambridge University Press, 2001 

       Find out more about this book IHR review  H-Net review


Edited Volumes

The Origins of the First World War: diplomatic and military documents, Manchester University Press, 2013 Find out more about this book

‘The Fischer Controversy after 50 Years’, special issue of The Journal of Contemporary History, April 2013, 48 (2)

The Kaiser. New Research on Wilhelm II’s role in Imperial Germany, Cambridge University Press, 2003 (edited with Wilhelm Deist) Find out more about this book 

Chapters in edited volumes

'The July Crisis', in 1914-1918 online

'Diplomatie und Kriegsausbruch', in Gerhard Hirschfeld et al (eds), Enzyclopädie Erster Weltkrieg, 2nd edn, Schöningh, Paderborn 2014, 1015-1020.

‘Germany and the Origins of World War One’, in Matthew Jeffries (ed.), Ashgate Reseach Companion to Imperial Germany, Ashgate, London 2014, 413-431

‘Germany’, in Holger Herwig and Richard Hamilton (eds), War Planning 1914, Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 48-79  Find out more about this book

‘Der Moltke Plan. Modifikation des Schlieffenplans bei gleichen Zielen?’, in Hans Ehlert, Michael Epkenhans and Gerhard P. Groß (eds), Der Schlieffenplan. Analyse und Dokumente, Paderborn, Schöningh 2006, pp.79-99

‘Das Bild Helmuth von Moltkes in der Biography’, in Michael Epkenhans, Stig Förster and Karen Hagemann (eds), Militärische Erinnerungskultur. Soldaten im Spiegel von Biographien, Memoiren und Selbstzeugnissen, Paderborn, Schöningh 2006, pp.132-151

‘The Coming of War, 1914’, in Gordon Martel (ed), A Companion to Europe, 1900-1945 ( Blackwell Companions to European History), Oxford, Blackwell 2006, pp.180-194

‘Wilhelm, Waldersee and the Boxer Rebellion’, in Annika Mombauer and Wilhelm Deist (eds), The Kaiser. New Research on Wilhelm II’s role in Imperial Germany, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-82408-7, pp.91-118.

‘Helmuth von Moltke: A General in crisis?’, in Matthew S. Seligmann and Matthew Hughes (eds), Leadership in Conflict, 1914-1918, Leo Cooper, London 2000, pp. 95-116, 0-85052-751-1.


Journal Articles

'The German Centenary of the First World War', War & Society, 36, 2017, pp.276-288

'Sir Edward Grey, Germany, and the Outbreak of the First World War: A Re-Evaluation', International History Review, April 2016, 38, No.2, 301-325

'Guilt of Responsibility? The hundred-year debate on the origins of the First World War', Journal of Central European History, December 2015, 48, 541-564

'Julikrise und Kriegsschuldfrage – Thesen und Stand der Forschung', Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Spring 2014

'The July Crisis', History Today, June 2014

'Der hundertjährige Krieg um die Kriegsschuldfrage', in Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, 65, 5/6 2014, pp.303-337

‘The Fischer Controversy, Documents and the “Truth” About the Origins of the First World War’, The Journal of Contemporary History April 2013 48 (2), pp. 290-314

‘Introduction: The Fischer Controversy 50 years on’, The Journal of Contemporary History April 2013 48 (2), pp.231-240

‘The First World War: Inevitable, Avoidable, Improbable or Desirable? Recent Interpretations on War Guilt and the War’s Origins’, German History, vol. 25, No 1, 2007, pp.78-95

‘The Battle of the Marne. Myths and Reality of Germany’s “fateful battle”’, The Historian, vol.68, No 4, Winter 2006, pp.747-769

‘Of War Plans and War Guilt: the Debate surrounding the Schlieffen Plan’, The Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 28, 5, 2006, pp.857-885

‘From Imperial Army to Bundeswehr: continuity and change in the role of the military in German history’, Review Article, The Historical Journal, 47, 1 (2004), pp.1-7

‘Vom kurzen Krieg zum Ersten Weltkrieg: Der deutsche Kriegsverlauf im August und September 1914’, HISTORICUM, (Vienna) December 2001

‘Germany’s Last Kaiser - Wilhelm II and political decision-making in Imperial Germany’, New Perspective, Volume 4, Number 3, March 1999 Online article

Teaching interests

From 2001 – 2005 Annika Mombauer chaired AA312 and AA319, and its associated residential school AXR312: Total War and Social Change: Europe 1914-1955. She has written a number of teaching units for this course, and has also contributed teaching units on the New German Cinema to AA310: Film and Television History and on the German Empire to A200: Exploring History: Medieval to Modern 1400-1900. She served as deputy chair of the MA in History, and as co-chair of the second-level course A200: Exploring History: Medieval to Modern 1400-1900. She has also written a course unit on the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for A326: Empire 1492-1975. From November 2010 to January 2012 she co-chaired the production course team for the new third level twentieth century history course A327 Europe 1914-1989: war, peace, modernity, first presented in October 2013, for which she has written teaching units on the origins and the nature of the First World War. She has served as a module team member on the interdisciplinary module A105.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
War, Conflict and Politics Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts


Externally funded projects

Reflections on the Centenary of the First World War Symposium
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Mar 201930 Jun 2019Royal Historical Society

Timed to coincide with the end of the centenary of the First World War, this symposium will reflect on how the war was commemorated in a range of different countries between 2014 and 2019. The aims of the symposium are (i) to look back at six years of commemoration (ii) to address a number of important questions, particularly probing what is different after six years of commemorating and debating the First World War on the occasion of the centenary (iii) and to highlight that the war was experienced differently and therefore needed to be highlighted differently, by the various combatant nations and empires. The symposium will be hosted at the Open University and made accessible to a large and diverse audience with a live and interactive broadcast. This is a retrospective record, since the team have been awarded £1500 by the Royal Historical Society to organise. The projected date of the symposium is May 2019.