The beginning of Wisma Jerman came, when renowned gamelan-music expert Dr. Rudolf Gramich and other teachers started to provide German language courses in Surabaya in the beginning of the 1960s. The high success of these courses caught the attention of the Goethe-Institut, which opened an office in Surabaya in 1964. Due to political turbulences the management was pulled back to Germany, but the institute lasted. Soon afterwards the language courses of the Goethe-Institut became very popular–so popular, that in 1966 roughly a thousand-people tried to access the facility to enroll for a language course. The situation did not settle until the police came and cleared the area.
Following the high success, the Goethe-Institut Surabaya moved to a new campus in Taman AIS Nasution 15, the building we are in ever since. The compound was provided by the German Embassy in Jakarta to serve as a new language and cultural center in Surabaya.
These prosperous times lasted until 1996, when, after huge budget cuts by the German government, the Goethe-Institut had to close the establishment, despite its success. Friends and former employees founded the Goethe-Stiftung Surabaya soon after to continue the achievements. They began a cooperation with the Goethe-Institut to form a Goethe-Zentrum in Surabaya. There, language courses and certificates for tests where provided, while the broader cultural exchange could not be offered anymore.
But the Goethe-Zentrum was not able to recreate the same success its predecessor enjoyed. The demand for language courses crumbled and new employees where hard to find as well. Therefore, in 2010 the board voted for a fresh start. In coordination with the German-Indonesian Chamber of Industry and Trade EKONID, the Goethe-Institut and the German Embassy a new organization was founded: Wisma Jerman, the German House. Under sponsorship of the cofounded “Yayasan Mitra Indonesia-Jerman” foundation, the new centrum quickly flourished. The worldwide unique model of Wisma Jerman combines culture, economy and education in one facility and established itself very fast. The demand for language courses rose over the last years and the classrooms filled again.
As a representative for German interests in East-Java, Wisma Jerman also organized business delegations, supported German companies and created a network to further enhance and strengthen German-Indonesian relationships. In the meanwhile, Wisma Jerman also established itself as an important part of the cultural landscape of Surabaya, organizing events and exhibitions for the public.