Message from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the award ceremony of the “Remembering for the present” competition for German schools abroad

25.02.2021 - Speech

Grammatically speaking, the German word “erinnern” is a weak verb. That’s what Duden, the standard German dictionary, says. However, it has at least two strong meanings:

First of all, to consciously keep something in your mind, i.e. to remember.
And secondly, to ensure that someone else doesn’t forget something, i.e. to remind.

If we join in remembering for the present, we prevent people from looking away. We remind people to remain alert. We play an active role. For those who can no longer do so – or perhaps do not want to do so. For democracy, for freedom, for the rule of law.

For these achievements of our society cannot be taken for granted. They suffer setbacks time and again. We’re concerned by developments in many countries today. And we’re also concerned by the situation in Germany when we see the yellow stars or signs bearing the slogan “Impfen macht frei” at demonstrations against the COVID-19 restrictions. Those who conduct themselves in this way are mocking the victims of National Socialism and trampling our civilised values underfoot.

We must not forget, nor should we become blind to the lessons of our history. “Remembering for the present” will help us to do that.

I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of the pupils for your work! You’ve made an important contribution to our culture of remembrance and to a peaceful future. And you’ve done so, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has thwarted many of your plans and forced you to completely rethink your projects. You've come up with impressive projects that will stand the test of time, setting an example for others. That applies to all 58 participating German schools abroad and German profile schools, and most especially of course to today’s prizewinning projects!

Many of the projects in the competition addressed discrimination. They highlighted discrimination which frequently goes almost unnoticed and all too often unpunished. I’m sure that you have been looking very carefully at every form of exclusion. As one of the winning schools said, keep on looking the discrimination in your environment in the eye. And talk about it, so that history doesn’t repeat itself in contemporary guise.

And now I’d like to announce the winners of the “Remembering for the present” competition. The first prize goes to projects from four different Schools:

  • From Athens the project: DSA erinnert – Schule unter’m Hakenkreuz (The German school in Athens remembers – a school under the swastika)
  • From Istanbul the project: Diskriminierung in die Augen schauen! (Look discrimination in the eye!)
  • From Santiago the project: Die Deutsche Schule zur Zeit der Militärdiktatur (The German school during the military dictatorship)
  • From São Paulo DenkMalNach und FragMalNach (Think and ask questions)

Congratulations on winning the competition! And thank you to everyone for taking part and ensuring that we don’t Forget!


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