Dr Marcus Colla

  • Post-1945 Germany, Central and Eastern Europe
  • Memory and time
  • Architecture and urban history

Broadly conceived, my research is concerned with time and space in communist Eastern Europe. I am interested in the ways that societies under communism situated themselves in relation to past and future, and how their ideas of historical time manifested themselves in urban spaces and architectural practices.

My doctoral dissertation – entitled ‘The Politics of History and the “Prussia-Renaissance” in the German Democratic Republic’ – had two focusses. Firstly, it was concerned with the legacy of the Prussian state after its dissolution at the hands of the Allied Control Council in 1947. To this end, it explored the way that Prussia continued to retain a spectral presence in the politics and culture of East Germany, West Germany and Central Europe up until the 1980s. Secondly, my dissertation was concerned with the way that historical narratives were constructed and contested in the German Democratic Republic. It analysed the role of professional historians within the broader cultural-political apparatus of the East German state, as well as the way that historical understandings there were shaped by ‘popular history’ and local heritage initiatives.

I have also published on the fate of historic architecture in communist East Germany. My first article ‘Prussian Palimpsests: Architecture and Urban Spaces in East Germany’ explored the debates that raged within the ruling party and among the citizens of East Berlin and Potsdam about the fate of ‘burdened’ historic buildings. For this article I was awarded the Royal Historical Society’s ‘Alexander Prize’ in 2018. I also have an article forthcoming in ‘German History’ which examines the demolition of the Garnisonkirche in Potsdam in 1968.


I currently teach:

Prelims: FHS:

European and World History IV: Society, Nation, and Empire, 1815-1914

Revolutions of 1989

Historiography: Tacitus to Weber Culture, Politics and Identity in Cold War Europe 1945-68

Europe Divided, 1914-1989


The Global Twentieth Century, 1930-2003


Disciplines of History


Graduate papers:

Europe in the Twentieth Century, 1914-1970: National, transnational and international histories 

In the Media

Contributions to Lowy Institute ‘Interpreter’ blog: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/contributors/articles/marcus-colla

  • Memory, Heritage and the Demolition of the Potsdam Garnisonkirche, 1968*


  • Constructing the Prussia-Myth in East Germany, 1945–61

  • Prussian Palimpsests: Historic Architecture and Urban Spaces in East Germany, 1945–1961

  • The Spectre of the Present: Time, Presentism and the Writing of Contemporary History

  • More