Our History

Our History

"Window to America"

Amerika Haus Cologne was opened in 1955 as a cultural and information center of the United States on a historic site - on the former grounds of the Apostelgymnasium in Cologne. Konrad Adenauer, the first German Chancellor and early promoter of transatlantic relations, once went to school there. Until its closure in 2007, Amerika Haus Köln was an important part of the US presence in North Rhine-Westphalia and served to foster German-American relations.

For over 50 years, the Amerika Haus was for many people in and around Cologne their "window to America": it provided insight into the culture, politics and economy of the United States. Many prominent guests visited the Amerika Haus and enriched the varied program of events: numerous German and American politicians and ambassadors,  a pop art artist  such as Roy Lichtenstein, a Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison and an opera star Jessye Norman, just to name a few.

During its first years, Amerika Haus Köln filled a cultural gap in city life. It offered an extensive program with concerts, lectures, exhibitions, as well as film and theatre performances. Its own library offered access to American literature, and even an info-mobile bus in NRW. The Amerika Houses played an important role and contributed substantially to the reconstruction of democratic education in Germany after the Second World War.

Towards the end of the 60s, Amerika Haus Cologne was repeatedly confronted with public protests against US politics, e.g. in connection with the Vietnam War. Social and political changes of this time, such as the women's and civil rights movements found thematic implementation in the Amerika Haud program.

With the end of the Cold War the challenges of modern societies moved to the center of the program work: questions of immigration and integration, the reform of the welfare state, environmental problems, and the consequences of globalization were taken into account in the program.

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the fight against international terrorism became the most important topic of the Amerika Haus’ work.

From 1955, Amerika Haus Köln was part of the independent "US Information Service". After the integration of the "US Information Service" into the US State Department, Amerika Haus Cologne served as the public relations department of the US Consulate General in North Rhine-Westphalia from 1999 onwards.

In September 2007, the department was integrated into the US Consulate General in Düsseldorf and Amerika Haus Cologne was closed. It was the last remaining Amerika Haus in American administration in Germany. Today, the listed building designed by architect Rudolf Schickmann houses the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Amerika Haus e.V. NRW

In 2007 the Amerika Haus e.V. North Rhine-Westphalia was founded on the initiative of Jeane Freifrau von Oppenheim, the former Mayor of Cologne Fritz Schramma, as well as the former US Consul General Matthew G. Boyse, as the successor to Amerika Haus Köln. This ensures a contact point for transatlantic dialogue in NRW. To this day, an initiative group consisting of companies and personalities accompanied the founding process and continue to support the association in form of ideas and donations. With its focus on event planning, Amerika Haus e.V. NRW opened its new office in Apostelnstraße in 2008. With approximately 40 events on transatlantic topics per year, we reach over 4000 guests in the state of NRW.