The archive acquires, collects and makes accessible unique pieces of writing and images and objects related to German-language literature and intellectual history from the eighteenth century to the present.
The archive’s collection of manuscripts contains the estates of more than 1,400 individuals. Swabian poets such as Wilhelm Hauff, Eduard Mörike, Friedrich Schiller and Ludwig Uhland mark the historical beginning of the collection. The turn of the century around 1900 is represented by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Rainer Maria Rilke and Arthur Schnitzler, among others. The holdings in Expressionism and literature of the 1920s through the 1940s include Gottfried Benn, Alfred Döblin, Hermann Hesse, Ricarda Huch, Ernst Jünger, Erich Kästner, Franz Kafka, Siegfried Kracauer, Elisabeth Langgässer and Carl Zuckmayer. Major holdings of exile literature have been collected in the Helen and Kurt Wolff Archive.
Among the authors of post-war and contemporary literature are Paul Celan, Günter Eich, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Peter Handke, Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Sarah Kirsch, Peter Rühmkorf, W. G. Sebald and Martin Walser. Our significant collection of the papers of scholars, philosophers and Germanists is also worth emphasizing. Alongside the archives of individuals, the editorial and publication archives (including the Cotta Archive and outstandingly rich Siegfried Unseld Archive) additionally represent an important focus of the archive.