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School History

Paul Emil Hartnack, a young foreign language correspondent from Wuppertal, founded a school in Cologne in 1915 offering private lessons in English and French. The subject matter was to stimulate conversation and enable intercultural understanding with the help of projected images ("still pictures"). To this end, Paul Emil Hartnack developed "film strips" and patented this process in 1929. After World War I, the school continued to develop rapidly, and soon 23 licensed schools were teaching according to the pioneering method of the school's founder.

Takeover by Artur Lauterbach

In 1934 Hartnack moved the headquarters of his school to Nollendorfplatz in Berlin. Immediately after the end of the war, Artur Lauterbach (1904-1981), until then the owner and director of a private high school in Breslau, took over the school's management and, after Hartnack's death, ownership. After the classrooms and all teaching materials at Bülowstraße 105 had been destroyed by bombs, the Hartnack School finally found its new home at Motzstraße 5 in Schöneberg in 1945.
The "Hartnack method" was further developed: Lessons with projection apparatus, educational film strips and printed teaching materials were available not only in English and French, but also in Spanish, Russian, Italian and "German as a Foreign Language" (DaF).

Artur Lauterbach succeeded in consolidating the language school, which had suffered financially as a result of the war, in expanding the proportion of "German as a foreign language" and in increasing the number of language course participants.


Artur und Inge Lauterbach in den 70er Jahren

Artur and Inge Lauterbach in the 1970s.


The Hartnackschule Berlin became a supplementary school recognized by the Berlin Senate and was authorized to hold language examinations. To this day, the examination system has a high priority in the Hartnackschule's corporate goals. A final examination recognized by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees at the end of the "German for the Profession" courses running in the ESF BAMF program was designed in-house and is used today in the program across all institutions. In addition, the Hartnackschule is both a "telc" and "TestDaF" examination center.

After Lauterbach's death in 1981, his wife Inge Lauterbach continued the school in his tradition with a pedagogical team. The Hartnackschule subsequently expanded, had branches on Tauentzienstraße and Lindenstraße, right next to the "Springer high-rise". However, the heart of the school remained at Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg, with the main building on Motzstrasse, the high-rise building on Nollendorfplatz and classrooms in the YMCA building on Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Strasse. Henning Lauterbach has been the principal since October 1993. The courses offered in the DaF area became more differentiated. Worth mentioning are the university courses, which serve as preparation for the language entrance exams of the universities and meet with great response.

In October 2000, the Hartnack School became one of the first educational institutions in Berlin to be certified according to ISO 9001.
Two years later, the non-profit Lauterbach Foundation was established by Inge Lauterbach with the aim of supporting highly talented and financially needy language course participants at the Hartnack School.

Offer for migrants

The Hartnackschule is one of the few language schools in Berlin that is allowed to run job-related German courses on behalf of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in association with cooperation partners.

Integration and orientation courses, in which migrants are prepared for life in Germany, have also been a trademark of the Hartnackschule Berlin for decades.

Language students from all over the world

The Hartnack School is multicultural and stands for diversity.

Our participants come from all age groups.

There are many good reasons to learn German: study, work and - of course - love.

Hartnackschule today

The corporate structure is multi-layered. Henning Lauterbach, who has also been the managing school owner since 2013, realizes the annual corporate goals with a team of pedagogical department heads, experienced staff in school administration, and of course the language instructors.


Henning Lauterbach 2015

Henning Lauterbach 2015

Quality with tradition

Since 1915, the Hartnack School has always been up to date.

Whereas in the past it was Emil Hartnack's method (the innovative use of pictures in connection with language), today it is impossible to imagine teaching without laptops and beamers.

The first language courses in Germany to use tablets to learn German were offered by the Hartnackschule Berlin in its anniversary year 2015.

Today, our employees successfully implement the German welcome culture and have taught around 250,000 language students not a foreign language, but an appreciative and tolerant way of living together in a welcoming culture. The development of a new mission statement based on the company motto "Quality with Tradition" takes up the successful company history and continues to write it.