Presentation by Lore Hasenbein
Frau Lore Hasenbein opened the festivities of July 29, 2003 with
following words of praise.
Remarks by Lore Hasenbein:
"Honored Mr. Hildebrandt, Honored Mr. Undersecretary Sieber, Honored Guests, Dear Members of Workers Welfare of Heidelberg, Dear friends:
I have the singular honor, on this occasion of Georg Hildebrandt's decoration, to welcome you very cordially in the name of workers welfare and in the name of the Board of the Louise-Ebert-House.
Residents as well as full-time and volunteer employees of the Louise-Ebert-House are proud to be able to provide a worthy setting for honoring Mr. Georg Hlldebrandt.
Before I give the floor to Mr. Undersecretary Sieber, I would like to express a few personal observations:
— Why are you still alive? Or: — why were you able to survive all that?
The horrible years in prison in Kolyma and in the other punishment camps.
We must ask ourselves these questions upon hearing or reading about Mr. Georg Hildebrandt's story.
In his monumental life's work "Archipelago Gulag," which he dedicated to those who were unable to stay alive enough to be able to report, Alexander Solzhenitzin provides extensive descriptions of the kinds of things Georg Hildebrandt experienced, suffered and survived.
Russian punishment camps [given GH'S note correction — this should read "Soviet punishment camps"]; three years at Kolyma — which became symbolic of Communism — and conditions there during what would have been the best years of his life.
Mr. Hildebrandt did stay alive enough to be able to report: In shocking documentation, which at times takes away the reader's breath, he describes the stages of his suffering, representative of thousands of his fellow sufferers.
—Why are you still alive? — To live so that I can tell what happened. A living witness who describes man's inhumanity. Who, despite all, is not embittered, who remains balanced and tolerant and who defines his being through his great humanity. Your work should be obligatory reading for the many contemporaries who still appear not to have grasped the meaning of cooperative community.
For your work, our dear honored Mr. Hildebrandt, you will be decorated today, knowing full well that this decoration can never fully undo what you have experienced, or make anyone forget it.
As representative of the AWO OV Boxberg/ Emmertgrund and the AWO Heidelberg, may I please tell you that we are very proud that you have found "a home" in our house and are an active member of our local association! Along with you, we too are delighted about this honor and wish that you may spend many more peaceful, harmonious hours in our midst, as well as times of debate and recounting. May we thus be able to make a small contribution to your continuing belief in humaneness.
Thank you all for your attention.