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
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.