The Fritz Bauer Institute was inaugurated by the State of Hesse, the City of Frankfurt am Main and the Friends’ Association Fritz Bauer Institute as a foundation under German public law with registered office in Frankfurt am Main on January 11, 1995 — 50 years after the liberation of the National Socialist concentration and extermination camps.
The initiative was started by Frankfurt Mayor Volker Hauff, who, impressed by his 1989 visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem, launched a debate in 1989 on erecting a holocaust center in the »country of the perpetrators«. The City of Frankfurt am Main set up a planning group in its department for culture and leisure. The group’s final report entitled Frankfurter Lern- und Dokumentationszentrum des Holocaust (Holocaust learning and documentation center in Frankfurt) simultaneously served as the roadmap for the work of the Fritz Bauer Institute. Dr. Hanno Loewy, who had already been in charge of the preparatory work for establishing the Institute, was named as its founding director. He was succeeded by directors Prof. Dr. Micha Brumlik (2000–2005), Prof. Dr. Dietfrid Krause-Vilmar (provisional director, 2005–2007), Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross (2007–2015) and apl. Prof. Dr. Werner Konitzer (provisional director, 2015–2017). Effective May 1, 2017, Prof. Dr. Sybille Steinbacher assumed directorship of the Fritz Bauer Institute and has since simultaneously occupied the newly endowed Chair for Research on the History and Impact of the Holocaust in the History Seminar of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
After relocating a number of times (Walter-Kolb-Str. 9–11, Bockenheimer Landstr. 104, Rheinstr. 29), the Institute moved into its present facilities in IG Farben-Building on the Campus Westend of Goethe University (Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1) in summer 2001. A cooperation agreement was concluded that maintains the Institute’s status as an independent institution, while affiliating it as an An-Institut with Goethe University, which joined the Institute’s foundation board as its fourth member. Relocating the Fritz Bauer Institute to this historical building reflects this affiliation.