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Olga Witmer

Olga Witmer
Lucy Cavendish College
Lady Margaret Rd
Cambridge CB3 0BU


Olga Witmer was born in Amsterdam. She studied History (BA) in Vienna and Global Studies (MA) in Leipzig and completed both degrees with distinction.

She taught German, English and History for several years and interned at the Dutch Embassy in South Africa.

Olga Witmer’s doctoral research examines the assimilation of Germans at the Dutch Cape of Good Hope (1652-1806). She studies the Cape as a node with extensive ties to both Europe and the Indian Ocean world. Germans formed one group within the Cape’s ethnically diverse society but assimilated remarkably fast as a result of intermarriage, miscegenation and linguistic and religious integration. Witmer uses sources from South African, German, English and Dutch archives in a wide range of vernacular languages.

She is more broadly interested in the Dutch East India Company (VOC), Protestantism beyond Europe and Early Modern German migration and is exploring comparative angles which contrast the Cape against other VOC settlements in Asia and German communities in North America.

Witmer’s research has been funded by numerous bodies in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria such as the European Commission, DAAD and the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation.

In her spare time, Witmer enjoys playing the violin and piano. She was a member of the Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands and the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra.

From January until September 2019 Olga Witmer will be a Doctoral Fellow at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz.

Research Supervision

Supervisor: Professor Saul Dubow


  • International History
  • Economic, Social History
  • Imperial History
  • Early Modern History

Key Publications

Olga Witmer, "Een 'zweite Heimat' in Amsterdam. Het Mahlerfeest van 1920 als 'tweede thuis' voor de Europese intelligentsia en Mahlercultuur" ["A 'zweite Heimat' in Amsterdam. The 1920 Mahler Festival as a 'second home' for the European intelligentsia and Mahler culture"], Skript Historisch Tijdschrift 36, no. 3 (2014): 148-157.