KOEBNER, RICHARD (1885–1958), historian. Koebner was born in Breslau and studied at the universities of Berlin, Breslau, and Geneva between 1903 and 1910. In 1920 he began teaching at Breslau University and in 1924 he was appointed professor of medieval and modern history. His primary interest at this time was urban development and German expansion eastward. His books in these fields included his dissertation Die Eheauffassung des ausgehenden deutschen Mittelalters (1911); Venantius Fortunatus, seine Persoenlichkeit und Stellung in der geistigen Kultur des Merowinger-Reiches (1915); Die Anfaenge des Gemeinwesens der Stadt Koeln (1922); and Staatsbildung und Staedtewesen im deutschen Osten (1931).
Removed from his post by the Nazis, Koebner settled in Jerusalem in 1934 and was appointed professor of modern history at the recently founded Hebrew University, where he established, together with Victor *Tcherikover and Yitzhak *Baer, the History Department. From then until his retirement in 1955 he influenced the character of the department and set its guidelines. During those years his research concentrated, among other subjects, on the changing concepts of "empire" and "imperialism." His Empire (1961) dealt with the evolution of the meaning of the term from Roman to Napoleonic times. Koebner's voluminous notes were used by one of his former students, H.D. Schmidt, for a book published in their joint names, Imperialism, The Story and Significance of a Political World, 1840–1960 (1965). In 1990 a collection of studies from Koebner's archive was compiled and published under the title Geschichte, Geschichtsbewusstsein und Zeitwende.
H.D. Schmidt, in: Geschichte, Geschichtsbewußtsein und Zeitwende (1990), 11–21; J. Arieli, in: Geschichte, Geschichtsbewußtsein und Zeitwende (1990), 22–48; idem, in: Toldot ha-Universita ha-Ivrit be-Yerushalaim: Shorashim ve-Hatchalot (2000), 541–574.
[Oscar Isaiah Janowsky /
Noam Zadoff (2nd ed.)]