Shaping a transatlantic partnership – past and future

Heidelberg and the USA at the Mark Twain Center

The Mark Twain Center for Transatlantic Relations was established in 2018 as an initiative of the City of Heidelberg. Based in a location of historic significance, the Center’s mission is to combine living memory with academic research and culture. The central focus is to provide a ‘Heidelberg perspective’ on the elements that have united German and American people for centuries and on how we can work together to shape our future.

The historic location

The Mark Twain Center has been established in the former Keyes Building at Campbell Barracks. This building is particularly well placed to illustrate the changes in German-American relations. Erected in 1937 as an officer’s mess during the period of Germany’s remilitarization, it went on to serve as the European headquarters of the US army until the military withdrawal in 2013. Because of its particular history, the building includes a various elements which reflect its twofold past“.


Mark Twain described the Heidelberg of 1878 as “the last possibility of the beautiful”. The popular American writer spent almost five months in the city during his European tour and described with fascination both the picturesque landscape and his experiences of the German people. After 1945 the US forces named their newly erected living quarters at Heidelberg’s Campbell Barracks the ‘Mark Twain Village’ in reference to the American author. As an intercultural observer of the similarities and differences between Germans and Americans, Mark Twain embodies the aim of the MTC to become a platform for discussing future shared issues. 

Our activities

  • Multimedia presentation of German-American history across an area of around 900 m²
  • Special 130 m² exhibition area for historical, political and cultural displays
  • Academic research and organization of academic conferences on historical and political themes
  • Academic exchanges with US universities, organization of research stays and visits
  • Educational program on German-American history and human rights (esp. for school and college students)
  • Organization of cultural events and collaborations around German-American partnerships

Opportunities to be involved

We would value your involvement in developing our presentations and programs. For example:

  • Participate in our Developing a Collection working group: use your own objects to present your memories of the American presence in Heidelberg 
  • Undertake your own mini history project in the ‘public archive’
  • Support our work through the Friends of the MTC association
  • Do an internship and potentially conduct your own academic research and integrate it into our program. Partnerships with Heidelberg University and other institutions offer opportunities to gain further qualifications.

Our partners

The MTC works in partnership with specialist institutions, as well as with organizations and associations for German-American cooperation at local, national and international level, including

  • Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg
  • German-American Institute Heidelberg
  • Steuben-Schurz-Gesellschaft e.V. 
  • The German Society of Pennsylvania
  • German American Women’s Club Heidelberg
  • Mark Twain House Hartford, Conn.