Providing Opportunities - Taking Advantage of Opportunities by the Landsmannschaft

Chancen Schaffen - Chancen Nutzen!

"Providing Opportunities – Taking Advantage of Opportunities by the Landsmannschaft." Volk auf dem Weg, March 2007, 2-3.

This translation from the original German text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

For the 29th Bundestreffen, which is to be held May 26, 2007 in the Rhein-Main Halls of the Hessian State capital, Wiesbaden, the Landsmannschaft has chosen the motto "Providing Opportunities - Taking Advantage of Opportunities."

This guiding idea the Landsmannschaft sums up its work on behalf of Germans from Russia. Not in the least is this motto applicable to its efforts on behalf of the [formerly] increasing number of Aussiedler that, as a consequence of the immigration law which became effective January 1, 2005, has sunk to by far the lowest point in nearly twenty years.

In a position stated by the Landsmannschaft, more than anything else, it is the requirement for a language test that has led to the drastic reduction, and we shall continue to point out that any loss of German-language skills is an essential ingredient of the collective postwar fate, one that all significant parties in the German Bundestag continue to acknowledge.

In this context we shall also point out that we continue to worry about the fact that the matter of immigration of spouses and offspring of Spaetaussiedler remains to be unregulated, and we worry even more about the separation of family remembers that must be therefore expected. (On pp. 4-5 in this issue, we state our detailed position on this matter).

Along with the Hessian Social Minister, Silke Lautenschlaeger, main speakers for the Ceremonial Hour at the Bundestreffen will be Parlamentay State Secretary Dr. Christoph Bergner (above), the federal government's representative for Aussielder, and Adolf Fetsch (below), national chair of the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland
Our suggestions toward improvements in the work on behalf of Germans from Russia, which we shall be able to present to the broader public during the 29th Bundestreffen, are by now well defined. The national chair of the Landsmannschaft, Alfred Fetsch, and his vice-chairs, Adolf Braun and Waldemar Axt, on February 26, 2007 were able to present these suggestions to a small circle of experts within the context of the working group "Integration of the Aussiedler" of the federal government.

In order to be able to improve the conditions for integration efforts, we urge the appointment of Aussiedler representatives by each of the Bundeslaender, especially in the newer ones, where problems faced by our countrymen during the initial years after immigration are more serious than in the western Laender of the country.

Such offices must also be complemented by full-time people who are Germans from Russia, to operate in all Bundeslaendern as coordinating points between their countrymen's needs and the offices and authorities of these states.

In order to find a way out of the difficulties that our work on advice and care have incurred due to funding cuts in this area, the following three governmental measures are of primary importance:

- Expanded financial and institutional support.
- Increased recognition of the special qualifications of workers from the Landsmannschaft, who may not always satisfy the wished-for requirements, but have in practice proven to be very useful.
- Adoption of the forms and content of sensible integration efforts that have been experienced by our own workers.

We shall also point out that for us, the Landsmannschaft, efforts in the cultural arena, especially on a broad basis, are an indispensable ingredient of any work on behalf of and with Spaetausssiedler. Support of this work would contribute considerably toward increased acceptance of our countrymen by the native population - by depicting the cultural, social, and political background, as well as presenting their cultural heritage, which is what preserved them throughout those fateful and difficult years and has brought them to Germany.

Two suggestions should be mentioned here as representative of a series of concrete suggestions in the area of public efforts, ones we shall elaborate on in detail during the Bundestreffen:

- Immediate reaction by those with political responsibility in the face of untenable statements made about Spaetaussiedler. It must not be that - for whatever reason - the topic "Spaetaussiedler" becomes a taboo subject or is simply left to the arena of tendentious reporting.
- Making sure that the topic "Germans from Russia" is a natural part of the curriculum in German schools.

Finally, we shall also make statements concerning possibilities for supporting of social and cultural matters, as well as the improvement of living conditions for Germans still residing in the successor states of the former Soviet Union. This task is gaining increasing significance, but considering the current actual situation, new and substantive points of emphasis are required.

Ceremonial Hour, Heimat-Evening, and much more

Volunteers and employees of the Landsmannschaft are of course still engaged in preparations for the Bundestreffen, so at this time we can provide you with only an overview of the program that awaits you in Wiesbaden.

"Equal Opportunity through Integration! Our postwar fate
continues" was the motto for the 27th Bundestreffen that took place in Stuttgart on June 2, 2001
The traditional highlight is the Ceremonial Hour, during which, in addition to the Hessian Social Minister, Silke Lautenschlaeger, whom we introduced previously, the Aussiedler representative from the federal government, Dr. Christoph Bergner, and our own national chair, Adolf Fetsch, will make formal addresses. And at the conclusion of the hour, we shall pay honor with great dignity those of our ethnic group who died as victims of persecution in a state without justice.

A second highlight of the program, as ever, is the Heimat-Evening, which will provide attendees with a good picture of the broad range of our musical and performing talents.

For many, however, the "secret" highlight will be getting together at the settlement area tables with friends and neighbors from the past, and during these meetings the time will definitely pass very quickly.

A great deal of space will be taken up by various exhibits prepared and cared for by our own employees:

- The traveling exhibit "Volk auf dem Weg. Geschichte und Gegenwart der Deutschen aus Russland [A People on the Road. History and Present of the Germans from Russia]" is complemented by an expanded documentation on the history of the ethnic group. Under the heading "The Landsmannschaft Presents," placards provide information on the history and the present of the association; and in that context, our state, local, and county organizations, as well as various integration projects currently in operation throughout the country, will be presented to the attendees. Furthermore, there will be exhibits of works by German-Russian artists, and tables at which books from the Landsmannschaft and other publishers will be offered.

In our upcoming issue we shall inform you in more detail on the topics touched on herein, and we shall inform you on what is being done in the cultural and social areas on behalf of youth and German-Russian groups who have traveled from the former Soviet Union and from overseas, as well as all other areas of efforts on behalf of Germans from Russia.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller