A journey through the history of the German School

Whoever embarks on a journey through the history of the German School Addis Ababa will be amazed at what has happened since the founding of the first school association in 1926. The school has developed from an expert school in the Missionary House into a modern educational institution. Roman Herzog, the then Federal President, broke ground for the school at its current location on 26.01.1996. The German School was first opened in 1955 by the then Emperor Haile Selassie as a meeting school at Amist Kilo. In its best days it had up to 800 pupils, but had to be closed under the DERG regime, was expropriated and forced to move to the grounds of the German Embassy. The communist regime did not allow children of Ethiopian nationality to continue attending classes at the German school. After the political climate changed again, the school moved to its current location and is now a rather small but exciting place to learn and teach!

The school currently offers a place of learning to more than 300 children and young people from kindergarten to the IBDP and is constantly developing. With the construction of the new administration building and the construction of the new classrooms, which started in the school year 2019/20, the German School Addis Ababa is once again setting the course for the future.

We are proud to look back on such a moving school history. The most important milestones of this success story are summarized below.

1926 - 1928

Foundation of the first school association by Hermannsburg missionaries.

On 9.11. 1928 the first experts opened school in the Mission House.


The school becomes part of the German Evangelical Lutheran Christ Church under the name “Georg- Haccius Schule”.


Final closure of the school.

1954 - 1957

Foundation of the second German School Society under the chairmanship of Dr. Wilhelm Winter. Concept as an interdenominational and multinational school.

Transfer of the school property from Emperor Haile Selassie I. to the school association for a period of 50 years at a rent of 1 Eth $. 21.11.1955 Start of teaching in the “Hotel Nizza” as an interim solution until the new school building is completed. (25 pupils, 14 kindergarten children, 2 teachers and 1 educator).

Increase in the number of pupils to 150, mainly through Ethiopian pupils. Establishment of a separate primary school branch with Ethiopian teachers and Amharic as the language of instruction.

Construction and completion (1961) of the new German School with classroom, boarding and kindergarten buildings.

1960 - 1968

June, first final examination at the end of class 10, establishment of the grammar school class 11 and finally extension to class 13.

On 7.2.1961, the German School in Addis Ababa was recognised by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs as “the leading German school abroad for the final examination”.

May – first high school graduates complete their school-leaving exams under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Assmann. The number of pupils rises to 370.

October Heinrich Lübke holds the topping-out ceremony of the school’s annexes (farm building, dining hall, pantry and kitchen. Laundry and new main building with classrooms for Sections I and II and a gymnasium).

Ceremonial handover of the supplementary buildings on the occasion of the visit of Emperor Haile Selassie. The school is now attended by over 400 students. It has been extended by science rooms, a gymnasium with an assembly hall, a service building and administration. Recognition of the school as a “German school abroad leading to the school leaving examination” by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Introduction of a specially created Realschulabschlussprüfung, which leads to the acquisition of the German “Mittlere Reife”.

1970 - 1979

New admission policy for children of non-German mother tongue. Prerequisite: attendance of kindergarten with intensive German courses and successful completion.

This year the military deposed the emperor after 44 years of sole reign. With the coming to power of the communist regime a drastic decrease in the number of students begins.

The school buildings are violently occupied by soldiers, the inventory confiscated the school is declared “School of Pharmacy”. The staff is denied entry from January 6th, ’78.

Move of the school to the embassy grounds. Approval of the Foreign Office and the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. No permission for Ethiopian students to attend school. On 3.5. 1978 the school receives the name “German Embassy School”.

Recommendation of the Federal Foreign Office to dismantle the upper secondary school.

1986 - 1989

Offer from the Ethiopian government to provide a new plot of land as compensation.

Land transfer agreement for the new school building. Thus, an area of 21,765m2 near the Kebena River will be leasefree for 50 years to the Federal Republic of Germany. The agreement on cultural cooperation between the German Foreign Office and the Ethiopian government is also concluded, which still forms the basis for the work of the school and the Goethe-Institut today.

1991 - 1996

Cultural Convention between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia enters into force. The current school property is left for use and development.

Another building, the Steinhaus, is ceremonially handed over by the embassy. Only now does the German Bundestag decide to allocate DM 7.1 million for the second construction of a German school in Addis Ababa.

The then Federal President Roman Herzog accompanied by Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and the Minister for Economic Cooperation Dieter Spranger break ground for the new school building.

2000 - 2010

After 3 ½ years of construction, the new school buildings were officially inaugurated during a ceremony. In addition to modern classrooms, the school grounds include a large sports and multi-purpose hall, modern laboratories and specialist rooms including computer science with the latest hardware as well as extensive outdoor sports facilities, a school canteen and an experimental school garden.

Authorisation of the IBO to award the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Establishment of an IB upper school with grades 11 and 12. Since the introduction of the pilot project mixed-language IB (International Baccalaureate) programme, the student body has been growing significantly and steadily.

The German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder officially asks the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for permission to readmit Ethiopian students to the DBSAA and receives a positive response.

The 1st Performance & Development Agreement is signed between the DBSAA and the Central Office for Schools Abroad. For the first time, 6 students complete the upper school of the DBSAA with the Community Language International Baccalaureate Diploma (GIB) of the IB organisation in Geneva. The school celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Signing of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between Germany and Ethiopia, thus opening the school to Ethiopian children with a German background.

the first class begins under the MoU. The first homepage of the school appears. After eight years of meritorious work, Mr. Heiko Ernst hands over the school management to Mrs. Monika Biegel.

The kindergarten is structurally extended due to continuous growth. The school joins the school partnership initiative “Schulen Partner der Zukunft (PASCH).

2011 - 2019

The school receives the quality seal “Excellent German School Abroad” after a successful inspection by the German Bund-Länder Commission.

The ceremonial opening of the new pavilion for the pre-school group takes place. The kindergarten enjoys steadily growing popularity during this decade.

With the anniversary celebration “50 years 1st Abitur” and a former meeting the alumni work gets a huge boost. One of the first four high school graduates, Gunilla Layer, née Arén, takes part as guest of honour.

The Inspection Office of the IB organisation certifies very good IB implementation and excellent teaching staff. For the first time the examination for the German Language Diploma is held in the 9th grade. With the new school year, two new classrooms are put into operation.

The school is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an anniversary party and an alumni meeting, in which alumni from all over the world take part. The school has 137 students from 14 nations, 85 children are cared for in the kindergarten.
Construction work on the flood protection wall is resumed.

The kindergarten expands its childcare offer by the dwarf group. The offer is for children from the age of 1 year.

Completion of the construction work on the flood protection wall. As part of this work in progress a new sufficiently large sewage treatment plant was also built for the entire school and kindergarten.

Start of construction of the new classrooms behind the teachers’ room and second successful inspection by the German-Bund-Länder Commission with the award: “Excellent German School Abroad”.

Start of construction work for the new administration building.

The headmasters of the German School Addis Ababa since its foundation

1955 – 1963 Headmaster: Karl Ernst Lasch
1963 – 1969 Headmaster: Bernhard Becker
1969 – 1971 Headmaster: Manfried Büttner
1971 – 1976 Headmaster: Helmut Wahl
1976 – 1978 Headmaster: Harald Schmid
1978 – 1982 Headmaster: Helmut Lieske
1982 – 1985 Headmaster: Karl Preisinger
1985 – 1986 Headmaster: Joachim Oertel
1986 – 1994 Headmaster: Egon Kollmar
1994 – 2000 Headmaster: Stefan Mangos
2000 – 2008 Headmaster: Heiko Ernst
2008 – 2018 Headmistress: Monika Biegel
2018 to date Headmaster: Dr. Martin Nutz

1928 - First German school of the Hermannsburg Mission

1928 - Start of lessons with teacher Asmus (right) and pastor Bahlburg

1955 - First official German school in the "Hotel Nizza

1967 - Emperor Haile Selassie I. visits the new school for the inauguration

Lessons in the 60s with Karl-Heinz Fiebiger

1981 - The football team of the school with F.W. Heim

The German school on embassy grounds 90s

1991 - The current school property is left for use and development

2000 - Over 85 pupils move into the new buildings

Idioms and phrases by