A German‑Greek Future Fund has commenced operations to coincide with the visit of Greece’s President Karolos Papoulias to Berlin on Friday (12 September). It is to receive an annual sum of one million euros to promote projects designed to foster reconciliation between Germany and Greece and coming to grips with the past.
During his visit to Greece in March 2014, Federal President Joachim Gauck issued a clear statement acknowledging Germany’s responsibility for the barbaric acts committed by the Nazi regime between 1941 and 1944 and asked the victims’ families for forgiveness. He stressed that increased exchange between young Germans and Greeks was especially important for true reconciliation as part of the work of remembrance. He also said that additional efforts were needed to come to grips with the tragic chapters of German‑Greek history in both an academic and a social context.
During the celebrations in Berlin on 12 September, Gauck described the establishment of the German‑Greek Future Fund as a “confident expression” of the desire “to shape the future together without losing sight of the past”.
Greater awareness of our history
During a meeting with Greek journalists and young people in Berlin on 10 September, Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth, who has visited Greece several times for talks since assuming office, emphasised that Germany stood firmly alongside Greece, even and particularly in light of the difficult crisis the country had faced in recent years.
Roth went on to say:
We are well aware that the trust between our peoples is, even today, not something we can take for granted. Mutual understanding is a prerequisite for trust and solidarity. To really understand one another, we have to be more aware of our history.
He said that during his visits to Greece he had come to realise how much the country had suffered from the arbitrary cruelty of the German occupying forces. He said that the Federal President had “summed it up” during his state visit in March 2014: “We Germans have not yet adequately confronted this history,” Roth conceded. He said he was therefore pleased that, with the Federal Foreign Office’s Future Fund and the German‑Greek youth office, tools had been created that would send “a particularly strong message of cooperation and solidarity”.
Aiming to come to grips with the events of 1941‑1944
The Federal Foreign Office has established a German‑Greek Future Fund designed to promote academic and social activities aimed at coming to grips with the events of the Second World War. The financing of individual projects is intended to create a common German‑Greek culture of remembrance and send a message of reconciliation to the victims’ communities. Research on our joint history, which so far has been scant, is to be expanded. Contributions to preserve the Jewish community in Greece, particularly in Thessaloniki, are also planned.
This year a comprehensive special programme organised by the German Academic Exchange Service has been launched to promote more intensive research into the history of both sides and strengthen mutual academic relations. Plans include sponsorship of project proposals from Greek victims’ communities and associations as well as public relations activities. The German missions in Greece – the Embassy in Athens and the Consulate-General in Thessaloniki – are liaising with their Greek partners on this.