Interview of the director of the Maison Heinrich Heine

Tell us about your career and your arrival at the Cité internationale.

It’s a great honour and an immense pleasure for me to have recently taken over the management of the Heinrich Heine House. Bringing to life Franco-German cooperation, rich in tradition and unique in Europe, has always been at the heart of my career. Originally from Dresden, I studied general and comparative literature, modern literature and art history in Tübingen, Munich and Paris. After completing my dissertation, I ran the Paris office of Diaphanes Editions, before taking up a post as a DAAD specialist reader [Fachlektorin] at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and the Fondation de la Maison des sciences de l’homme (FMSH) in Paris. In addition to my teaching and research activities at EHESS, I directed the Franco-German translation programme ‘Bibliothèque allemande’ at the FMSH. Between 2020 and 2023, I was in charge of the ‘Europanetzwerk Deutsch’ programme at the Goethe-Institut in Brussels, working to promote cultural understanding in a multilingual Europe. My new role as Director of the Heinrich Heine House opens up many new opportunities for cooperation within the Cité, and I’m looking forward to exploring these new avenues!

In your opinion, what makes the Cité internationale a unique campus in the world?

The principle of mixing languages, cultures and origins in the same house and in the Cité is unique. Cité internationale is a place where diversity is experienced and democracy is put into action. The encounters you make on this campus are often decisive for your professional future. But the experiences of community life and the civic values shared here are even more fundamental.

How does living in your home give residents a different perspective on the world and provide a springboard for their future?

We do our utmost to ensure that our residents can take full advantage of the various resources of our home: our beautiful library, our music rooms, our various communal living areas that facilitate exchanges. Our cafeteria, which is open to all, is also an important meeting place within the Cité internationale. But what makes our house truly unique is its rich cultural programme throughout the year, in which our residents – like all students on campus – can play an active part. The stimulating range of these cultural encounters can open up whole new horizons and professional prospects for them!

If you had to sum up the Cité internationale in one word, which would you choose and why?

Diversity. Because it best describes the pulsating heart of collective life on campus.

Stephan Steinlein, German Ambassador to France and President of the Foundation