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No Eradication in Cultural Activities: Support for Goettinger Arbeitskreis is to be Stopped

"No Eradication in Cultural Activities: Support for Goettinger Arbeitskreis is to be Stopped." Volk auf dem Weg, August/September 1999.

Translation from German to English by Brigitte von Budde


Of course, not only the Landsmannschaft is affected by radical measures in cutbacks by the Secretary of State, Dr. Michael Naumann. The support for the Institut fuer Deutschland- und Osteuropaforschung, Goettinger Arbeitskreis, from the Federal government is to be completely cut. The managing director of the Arbeitskreis, Dr. Alfred Eisfeld, opposed this decision in a media release with arguments, which cannot be refuted on a factual level. Even the weapon "financial need" is weak as comparatively small amounts of money for an ethnic group that meanwhile grew to more than two million people is being talked about.

Since the 1930's and especially after 1945, the history and culture of the Germans from Russia was put under taboo in the Soviet Union. Until the 1980's, in the Federal Republic of Germany, this topic was also ignored in the curriculum of universities and research institutes. Only at the beginning of the 1990's, a systematic research of German Russian history and culture could be started in the Federal Republic of Germany as well as, with delay, in the successor states of the Soviet Union.

The Goettinger Arbeitskreis has made this object of research its main task and set up the Institut fuer Deutschland- und Osteuropaforschung in Goettingen. The institute and its well informed and foreign language speaking personnel have seized the new opportunities for an international collaboration with academies of sciences in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgistan, Aserbaijdshan and in the Ukraine to explore and, through joint projects, make available to the public the cultural heritage and the present situation of the Germans from Russia. The Federal Government has supported this research activity since 1990 and since 1994, supported it institutionally based on paragraph 96 BVFG.

The institute has largely contributed to the founding of the Wissenschaftliche Kommission fuer die Deutschen in Russland with headquarters in Goettingen, the Assoziation zur Erforschung der Geschichte und Kultur der Russlanddeutschen, Moscow, by study groups in Azerbajdshan and in the Ukraine and could get means from Russian, Kazakh, Azerbajdshan and Ukrainian governments, from universities and district administrations for carrying out projects and, in the states of the CIS, employed, on contracts, 40 to 50 scientists and archivists a year. The institute has become the central place to go for scientists who deal with the history and culture of the Germans from Russia; the institute has contributed to a large extent to the improvement and strengthening of good neighborly relations with peoples and countries of Eastern Europe.

Based on research results, the population of Germany could be expertly informed of the historical background of ethnic German emigrants from the CIS. It was especially pointed out that the Germans in the Soviet Union were victims of Stalin's and Hitler's dictatorships lost their settlement areas with all common and public properties as a result of a German-Soviet war (1941-45) and in the years during and after the war largely lost their language and identity because of discrimination by the state. This discrimination continued into the 90's and has formed behavior (patterns) as they have again become present in Kosovo.

Publications of our institute have an identifying effect on ethnic German emigrants and make it easier for the local population to gain an understanding for ethnic German emigrants. A contribution to the integration of 1.5 million ethnic German emigrants from the CIS and to a strengthening of inner peace in the Federal Republic of Germany is thereby made.

The representative of the Federal Republic of Germany for matters of culture and media, Dr. Michael Naumann, plans to promote culture according to paragraph 96 BVFG: "The institutional support of the Goettinger Arbeitskreis will be stopped... The main tasks ... of the Goettinger Arbeitskreis will be looked after by the Zentrale Kultureinrichtung, i.e., by the BOKG". The representative overlooks that the execution of these instructions would inevitably lead to a cut in the research program at the Institut fuer Deutschland- und Osteuropaforschung and consequently to a continued existence of a considerable deficit in the research of the history and culture of German Russians and German-Russian relations. The respect of the Federal Republic of Germany would suffer in the countries of Eastern Europe through the liquidation of a successful, active research institution and the international collaboration would be questioned.

The presented plan by the representative for matters of culture and media of the Federal Government must not be agreed to in order to avert such a threatening loss. It is rather in the interest of all states to continue to support the research activity of the Institut fuer Deutschland- und Osteuropaforschung.

Our appreciation is extended to Brigitte von Budde for translation of this article.

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