The Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts (Federal Foreign Office Political Archive) preserves the written records of the German Foreign Service and Germany’s international treaties. The Foreign Service Act (GAD) describes the remit as follows: "The originals or certified copies of the German Reich and Federal Republic of Germany’s international treaties as well as all documents required by the Foreign Service to fulfil its tasks are kept in the Federal Foreign Office Political Archive. The provisions of the Federal Archives Act on the use of federal archival records shall apply mutatis mutandis." (Article 10 GAD). Only parts of the records are kept in the Federal Archives.
The files from the Foreign Office, initially founded in 1870 for the North German Confederation and taken over by the German Reich one year later, form the core of the holdings, which have been added to since reunification with the GDR Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ documents. This also includes the records of the respective foreign representations. The German Reich, Federal Republic of Germany and GDR’s international treaties form a special collection of documents.
The written material kept here essentially begins in the founding year 1870, with individual predecessors going back to the first half of the 19th century. In the Foreign Office during the imperial era, one single office was sufficient, the "Central Office", which was both a registry and an archive. A separate archive was not established until the beginning of the Weimar period in 1920.
The Political Archive has a reading room for external users with a capacity of about 30 seats. Since the end of 2020, the centralised search tool has been "invenio" developed by the Federal Archives. A small but important part of the holdings can already be viewed online there. This has been made possible by increased digitisation since 2016, which is continuing. The Political Archive is present online at www.archiv.diplo.de.