Panel Discussion: Remembrance – The German Example

With the participation of : 

  • Jonas Fegert, (Jewish Student Initiative STUDENTIM)
  • Marina Grass (Chairman of OWEN Mobile Akademie)
  • Günter Nooke (Oppositional activist in East Germany, former Member of the German Federal Parliament)
  • Cornelia Schmalz-Jakobsen (Former Member of the German Federal Parliament).

 An introductory panel aimed to give participants a glimpse of the historic debates in Germany. Most guests were surprised by the strong confrontation between Marina Grass and Günter Nooke. Grasse was politically active in the Eastern German opposition and currently works in the Third sector, following a quick excursion into “official” politics during revolution. Nooke was involved in Christian opposition groups but is now a member of parliament and Angela Merkel’s contact person for Africa.

During the panel, she said “Nothing will ever stop me being a socialist”, and claimed that “rememberance of socialism in Germany today is too superficial, we forgot too fast.” Jonas Fegert, born 1990, explained that the past was still very relevant to his personal life. Being a Jew in Germany he experienced both anti-Semitism and overprotection and he insisted that “there are do’s and don’t´s when dealing with Holocaust-Survivors.” Gabriele Schmalz-Jacobsen, born 1934, agreed. Her family had been actively protecting Jews but after the war, when as a teacher addressed the Nazi period in school, some parents complained and he had to stop.

The panel agreed that time changes how we deal with the past. Talking about the third Reich, young Germans did not feel guilty but were rather curious. Talking about the communist regime in East Germany, there were still too many public taboos. 

The guests compared the situation in Germany to their experience at home or in other parts of Europe, such as the former Yugoslavia. And a large number of questions relevant to the project was raised for the first time.