National Convention 1994
Tuefel, Minister-President Erwin. "Russian-Germans Belong to Germany, to Baden-Württemberg. They Belong in the Midst of our Society." Volk auf dem Weg, July 1994.
The editors hope soon better to introduce to its readers, domestic and foreign, the mayor of the state capital, Stuttgart, Manfred Rommel, than would be suitable in a short report to the national convention of 1994.
Minister-President Erwin Teufel indeed has held his position "only" three and -one-half years; our readers are however well-acquainted with him: in 1991 he wrote the forward to our homeland book; in 1992 he expressed his attachment to our countrymen as patron and keynote speaker of the 23rd national convention of the Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Russia, and in 1993 we were again able to read from his pen in our homeland book:
"The Russian-Germans are a people whose history is at the same time turbulent and moving, that, however, can equally look back to a stable tradition. To this tradition belong centuries-old values striven for and lived for, for freedom and self-government, tolerance and partnership. Above all they were people from Baden and from Württemberg, who about two centuries ago followed the call of Russian czars and produced blooming, predominantly agricultural settlements and a rich culture. ...”
And in his keynote speech at our national convention of 1994 he said:
I want to tell you why I am not doing this out of a sense of duty - because I am attached to the people who have come to us from Russia, because I know about their fate, about the great suffering that every family has suffered, because I wish to provide a little restitution for the bitter injustice that has happened to you and to your ancestors, because I know about your origins in Baden and Württemberg, and for this reason greet you as my countrymen.
I wish you to feel happy in Baden-Württemberg, whether you have found here in your old homeland a new homeland or whether you have come to Stuttgart to this national convention of the Germans from Russia. I bid you a hearty welcome in Baden-Wurttemberg.
I wish to place a motto above your national convention: "Be at home in foreign lands, but never let your homeland become foreign." Your ancestors had this motto as a goal and lived it. Above all it was people from Baden and Württemberg who about two centuries ago had followed the call of Russian czars -I am thinking of Catherine the Great and Alexander I -and went to that country.
They emigrated there, not out of love of adventure or to become rich, but because their homeland could not support them. And they built a life in their new surroundings. As farmers they worked the ground with industry and knowledge. Their cultural landscape was characterized by creative energy and a wealth of inventiveness; and they made the economy, science and culture bloom. More than 300 mother colonies were set up, from which in turn over 3,200 daughter colonies developed. An original 100,000 German immigrants became an ethnic group of over 2 million people. These people became at home there -without forgetting their origins -they did not let their original home become foreign to them.
And now that you have returned to your ancestral home, after suffering sorrows, some of which were unspeakable, then you should know, that you belong to us. Therefore, fifteen years ago, the state of Baden-Württemberg took over as patron of all Russian-Germans. For this reason I am able to greet you in your home- and patron land.
And I greet you as a patron of this traditional national convention here in Stuttgart, a convention during which you have been renewing your acquaintance with your patron land, Baden-Württemberg, and with our fatherland, Germany. I gladly acknowledge that your fate, your origins and your future are particularly important to me. I would to speak with you about this – about your origins and about your future.
I know about your fate and know what the Russian-Germans have endured. They have suffered because they were German, because they acknowledged their origin, their language, their culture, their ancestors and their relatives.
That determines my relationship to you and that must determine the relationship of the Germans and of Germany to the Germans in Russia and to the Germans from Russia. Therefore I and my party have, against all pressure, supported article 116 of the basic law and the right of acceptance in our country.
It is the only just, humane reply and is expressed by the membership of the Landsmannschaft in response to your situation and to your suffering. The sacrifice of your ancestors cannot have been in vain.
As a symbol of the fate of many Russian-Germans I should like to remind you of a Bible that can be seen in the House of the Germans from Russia. This Bible was acquired in 1781 by a family Tröster from Grunbach and went to Russia with the family. At the end of the 19th century it came to America during the great wave of emigration from Russia. From here it returned to Stuttgart in 1978. Like this Bible, through many forced journeys and detours, many of you have returned to the land of your fathers and mothers. After flight and expulsion and emigration we wish to offer you a new home here in Baden-Württemberg.
For that reason, already in 1979, now 15 years ago, the state, out of close ties of history and lineage, took over the patronage of the Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Russia. Therefore, we can celebrate a small anniversary this year. With this patronage we wish to:
--strengthen our connection with your ethnic group and your fate,
--effectively support you in the conservation, care and further development of your cultural wealth and
--strengthen and consolidate the cohesiveness of the Russian-Germans.
to strengthen this patronage idea. Our state has always tried hard to give life to the patronage in a number of ways. It pleases me greatly that you know how to value these endeavors and have expressed this in the motto of your current national convention. This national convention is the high point of the annual schedule of your Landsmannschaft. The cultivation of your homeland culture and the remembrance of the life in the old homeland, have a very particular meaning. Our state supports this cultural work.
Out of this convention we are granting to the Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Russia an annual institutional support. Here in Stuttgart we have helped to found and to furnish the House of the Germans from Russia. During the years of its existence it has developed into an important center for the cultural work of the Landsmannschaft.
We have set up for it at the University of Freiburg its own research
facility for the history and culture of the Germans, and have had
much success in our state with our exhibit about the history and
culture of the Russian Germans. Soon our state office in Bonn will
open an exhibit consisting of works by Russian-German artists. During
the past year the state has for the first time promoted the border-crossing
cultural work of the Landsmannschaft by means of support for sending
literature to the German minority in the successor states of the
former Soviet Union.
The cultural heritage of the Germans from Russia belongs to the intellectual-cultural fortune of our whole people and is an indelible part of the whole German culture. We wish to preserve this heritage, so that you may pass it on to your own children and grandchildren and all may pass it on to the upcoming generation in our country.
The first goal of German politics is to help the Germans in Russia, in the Ukraine, in Kasachstan, to conduct a life that is worthy of human beings. We do not wish to tear 'anyone out of his accustomed surroundings and bring him here. But we wish that all of the Germans in these countries will be able to make their own decisions as to where they wish to fashion their future. For this reason we help them where they are and for this reason we do not slam the door shut here. Against all criticism, that is the attitude of Chancellor Kohl, the attitude of the national government, the attitude of State Secretary Waffenschmidt and my conviction. These political views are not undisputed. They are disputed in politics. They are disputed by a part of our citizenry. But they are the only politics that will be just to the origins of the Germans in Russia and to their lives' Tate.
This also applies to the War Results Settlement Act that went into force on January 1, 1993. The result is a political compromise that admittedly produced certain limitations, above all delays, that however gave great consideration to the most important wishes of those most concerned, the resettlers from Russia and the successor states of the Soviet Union.
The integration of the resettlers coming to us is being supported and promoted by the state in many ways. The governmental help, however cannot do the job alone. It is necessary for our people to help and this must happen. I know, that particularly the members of the Landsmannschaft, both active and honorary helpers are making outstanding contributions to this large endeavor.
I am convinced, that the Russian-Germans enrich our country.
They bring valuable virtues with them, such as deep religiosity, pronounced family feeling, readiness to help their neighbors, undemanding natures and industry. Let us all therefore not become tired of seeking to promote understanding among the people for our countrymen and to make it possible that the countrymen that are coming to us will find an atmosphere of solidarity and willingness to take them in.
(Further points of the minister-president's speech, that
particularly concern the endowment of a culture prize for
Russian-Germans and the situation of our countrymen who still
live in the CIS, will be reported in the next issue of Volk auf dem Weg.)