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Gotha Perthes Collection Becomes a Training Camp for the German National Team

The 20th International Geography Olympiad will take place in Dublin at the end of August. Germany will also be taking part with a team of four. And they will be travelling to Gotha for a training camp in March.

Philipp Liebold from Saxony, Hanna Münzer from Bavaria, Jonas Allert from North Rhine-Westphalia and Julius Friedrich Plehn from Thuringia were the winners of their respective state competitions and thus qualified for the national final in Erfurt. There, they beat off strong competition from a total of 13 state winners to secure the four coveted places for the national team. They will now go to a "training camp" on 22 and 23 March to prepare for their trip to Dublin. And this time it will be the Gotha Perthes Collection Gotha. After all, what better place for this than the former "Central Office of Geographical Research in Germany" – the time-honoured halls of the Justus Perthes publishing house.

Perthes Forum in Gotha

The Gotha Perthes Collection combines the historical legacy of three scientific publishers:

  • the publishing house Justus Perthes Gotha,
  • the Geographische Verlagsanstalt Justus Perthes Darmstadt and
  • the VEB Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt Gotha.

As the only map publishing archive preserved on the European continent, it contains unique source material on the development of cartography and geography in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the unity and interconnectedness of its holdings, the collection documents the last phase of the Age of Discovery, during which the interior of the non-European continents and the polar regions were explored.

The maps, atlases and journals published by Perthes, above all "Stielers Handatlas" and "Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen", shaped the scientific image of the earth well into the 20th century and popularised it for a broad public. Genealogical and statistical publications formed the second focus of the publishing house's profile, in particular the "Almanach de Gotha"/"Gothaische Hofkalender" as the definitive biographical encyclopaedia of the European nobility.

During their visit, the four students will not only be given guided tours of the Gotha Perthes Collection at the historical site of the Perthes Forum, but will also go on a themed excursion through the royal seat and the urban geography of Gotha. Also on the programme: a reception with the Lord Mayor. And, of course, the team will gain plenty of insights into the Gotha Perthes Collection and map production since the early 19th century, as well as having the opportunity to ask questions about content and geography and to browse the holdings in order to be prepared for Dublin.

Sven Ballenthin, an employee at the Gotha Perthes Collection, is looking forward to the visit in March: "Just as chief cartographer August Petermann once provided explorers with his knowledge and then sent them out into the world from Gotha to bring new geographical information back here, a new generation of geography enthusiasts from Germany will now set off for the Emerald Isle – with final preparations and encouragement from Gotha. A wonderful opportunity for us to reconnect Gotha with the world!"


Sven Ballenthin
Archivist of the Perthes Collection
(Gotha Perthes Collection)