The VIII International Congress of Historical Sciences in Zurich began on 28 August and concluded on 4 September 1938. The decision to hold the Congress in Switzerland was made at the VII International Congress of Historical Sciences in Warsaw in 1933. The candidacy of Zurich was submitted by Hans Nabholz, who presided over the newly established Organizing Committee, with Georg Hoffmann as its secretary.

The Congress organisers had to cope with numerous financial problems (in the aftermath of the global economic crisis) and political challenges of the tense international situation. Hans Nabholz took every effort so that the Congress participants could remain neutral and open and address only historical issues during the debates. The situation got complicated in March 1938 due to the Anschluss of Austria and the suspension of diplomatic relations between Bern and Moscow (in response to Stalin’s internal policy). As a result the number of registered Congress participants dropped.

Ultimately, the Congress gathered 770 participants from 49 countries. Compared with the previous Congresses, in Oslo and Warsaw, this was a marked decrease. The biggest delegations included those from Switzerland, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, United Kingdom, USA, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. No historians from the USSR came to the Congress.
The 1938 Congress took place in the shadow of coming war. Heightened tension was palpable throughout the event and therefore serious political debates and discussions of contemporary questions were avoided. The sessions were mainly dedicated to the methodology of history, ancient and medieval history, as well asmodern history.



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  2. VIIIe Congres international des sciences historiques: Communications présentées, Zurich 1938.
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  7. Pour préparer le prochain Congrés International des Sciences Historiques, „Annales d’histoire économique et sociale”, vol. 8, nr 37 (1936), s. 44-48.
  8. Stadler P., Im Schatten der Kriegsgefahr: der internationale Historikerkongress in Zürich 1938, „Schweizer Monatshefte: Zeitschrift für Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur”, Band 70 (1990), Heft 6, s. 483-495.