Klaus Richter

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

I am currently working on a history of Poland and the Baltics during the First World War and the interwar period, which focuses on the impact of occupation and revolution on the specifics of statehood in the region. I am particularly interested in the interplay between imperial normative frameworks, that continued to be a powerful force, and territorial politics implemented in the nation states.

My past research includes a doctoral thesis on anti-Semitism in Lithuania before World War I, which focussed on anti-Jewish violence and strategies to “emancipate” the peasants from Jewish merchants. I am also involved in the following projects:

  • ‘Hinterlands and Hypertrophies. Assessments of the “Viability” of Empires and Nation-States in Central and Eastern Europe, 1900 – 1930's’ (as principal investigator). Together with Dr Jonathan Gumz, I analyse the origins, development and impact of the concept of “viability” and its practice in early 20th century Central and Eastern Europe. The project is thus meant to establish a starting point for a historiography of modern state assessment and its practitioners. Viewing a state through the lens of “viability” (from German: Lebensfähigkeit, literal translation “the ability to live”) meant interpreting it as a living organism – be it in the form of the allegedly overstretched and disaggregating Habsburg and Romanov Empires, of hydrocephalic post-war Austria, of incoherent post-partition Poland or of acephalic Lithuania. Our project investigates how the circulation of knowledge and practices associated with “viability” lent the concept a dynamic character that changed over time. The project is funded by an AHRC Early Career Standard Research Grant for a time period of 24 months, starting in September 2017.
  • ‘The Fight against the Traffic in Women and Children in Interwar Poland’ (as principal investigator). This project retraces the networks of Polish anti-trafficking organisations and their connection to local and regional practitioners, such as the Polish Women’s police as well as railway and port missions. It focuses on how far Polish campaigns were shaped, facilitated or hampered by international efforts and how far they in turn shaped international policies, especially concerning the control of prostitution and of the movement of women. The research for this project is funded by the Thyssen Foundation and carried out by Dr Jasmin Nithammer.

Recently concluded research projects:

  • ‘Practices and Perceptions of Property Redistribution in Poland and the Baltic States, 1917 – 1934’ (as principal investigator). This project looks at the development of property distribution and its connection with state building in the former borderlands of the German and Russian empires following WWI – specifically Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The project is funded with a British Academy Small Research Grant for the time period April 2015 – March 2017.
  • ‘Borders, Maps and Congresses. The New Order of East Central Europe from the Legacy of the Empires, 1917 – 1923.’ This project, which was co-ordinated by the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder, looked at the interplay of international diplomacy, practices of rule and spatial imaginaries in the drawing of borders after the First World War. The project ran from 2013 to 2016 and was funded by Viadrina University.
  • ‘Population displacement and its political and cultural heritage in 20th century Lithuania’ (Gyventojų dislokacija ir jos politinis bei kultūrinis palikimas XX amžiaus Lietuvoje). This project, which was co-ordinated by the University of Vilnius, examined the impact of displacement, refugee crises and deportations on Lithuanian society across the 20th century. The project, which was funded by the European Structural Fund, started in 2013 and concluded in 2015.


Dr Klaus Richter is a Birmingham Fellow and Lecturer in Eastern European History at the University of Birmingham. After studying history, art history, English and German philology at the University of Cologne, he worked as a research associate at the Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin (2009 – 2011). In early 2012, he joined the German Historical Institute in Warsaw as a visiting scholar. He took up work at the University of Birmingham in October 2012.