Like probably many male teenagers of my generation I was fascinated by war and military stuff, especially Frederick the Great and the Second World War. At school it turned out that history was the only subject which didnt bore me to death. And I also realised that theres interesting stuff beyond war. However, after my A-levels I decided to study archaeology because I wanted to be as far from reality as possible and live in my personal ivory tower. It turned out, however, that archaeology intellectually was a rather underwhelming subject to study, and that I was more interested in people than in pottery fragments. So, I returned to history after my first year at the university, and delved into the Middle, and Early Modern Ages.
Later, when I had to choose a second and a third subject, I opted for philosophy and Slavic studies. The latter was due to my love of the music of Russian composers, but I completely underestimated the necessary effort to learn Russian. Consequently, I began to focus on Russian history to make the effort worthwhile, and my professor in Goettingen drove me towards modern history. So I have ended up with something I would never have imagined when I left school.
I studied at Goettingen University, Free University Berlin (1990-1996) and I did my postgraduate studies at Bielefeld University (1998-2004)
PhD University of Bielefeld, 2004
Post-doctoral dissertation (Habilitation) Humboldt University of Berlin, 2011