Our Statement

As representatives of public cultural and research institutions, we share a mandate from the state to promote arts and culture, historical research and democratic education and to make these accessible to the general public. Toward this end, we rely on a public sphere that allows for disputatious and controversial debates in accordance with the norms of the German constitution. In this, we are particularly aware of marginalized and disregarded voices that stand for cultural diversity and critical perspectives. At the center of our initiative lies a common struggle against antisemitism, racism, right-wing extremism and any form of religious fundamentalism that is willing to resort to violence. 

A specific challenge for us today is to responsibly communicate the particularities of the German past to our cooperation partners around the world in order to shape a common present and future. This past is characterized both by the singular genocide of European Jews and by a late and relatively hesitant confrontation with Germany’s colonial history. This requires an active commitment to the diversity of Jewish positions and an openness to other social visions presented from the non-European world. 

It is unproductive, even detrimental to the democratic public to exclude vital local and international voices from critical dialogue, as occurred in the debate surrounding Achille Mbembe. Germany’s historical responsibility should not lead to a general delegitimization of other historical experiences of violence and oppression, neither morally nor politically. Confrontations and examinations of such must be permissible, in particular in publicly funded cultural and discourse spaces. Against this background, the application of the BDS resolution by the Bundestag is cause for great concern. We reject the BDS boycott of Israel since we consider cultural and academic exchange to be essential. However, we also consider the logic of the opposition to the boycott, triggered by the Bundestag’s anti-BDS resolution, to be dangerous. By invoking this resolution, accusations of antisemitism are being misused to push aside important voices and to distort critical positions.

For this reason, we have established the Initiative GG 5.3 Weltoffenheit to consolidate our expertise and strengths in order to defend a climate of diverse voices, critical reflection and an appreciation of difference. The name refers to Article 5 (3) of the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) of Germany, which guarantees freedom of the arts and sciences. Weltoffenheit (openness to the world), as we understand it, requires a political aesthetic of difference that understands alterity as a democratic asset, and art and education as spaces that should tolerate ambivalence and permit divergent views. This includes guaranteeing spaces for polyphony, which critically examines its own privileged position as an implicit norm. 

We stand in defense of an open-minded society that will struggle for the equality of all people through the rule of law and public discourse, allowing for dissent and complex solidarities. It is this foundation that permits the arts and sciences to continue to exercise their original purpose: to critically reflect on our social orders while remaining open to alternative visions for our world.

 

Working Group

• Berliner Festspiele, Thomas Oberender (artistic director)

• DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, Silvia Fehrmann (director)

• Alliance of International Production Houses:

    – FFT Düsseldorf (Forum Freies Theater), Kathrin Tiedemann (artistic and managing director)

    – HAU Hebbel am Ufer / Berlin, Annemie Vanackere (artistic director)

    – HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste / Dresden, Carena Schlewitt (artistic director)

    – Kampnagel / Hamburg, Amelie Deuflhard (artistic director)

    – Künstlerhaus Mousonturm / Frankfurt am Main, Matthias Pees (artistic and managing director)

    – PACT Zollverein / Essen, Stefan Hilterhaus (director)

    – tanzhaus nrw / Düsseldorf, Bettina Masuch (artistic director)

• Deutsches Theater Berlin, Ulrich Khuon (artistic director)

• Einstein Forum Potsdam, Susan Neiman (director)

• Goethe-Institut, Johannes Ebert (secretary-general)

• Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Bernd Scherer (director)

• Jüdisches Museum Hohenems, Hanno Loewy (director)

• Federal Cultural Foundation, Hortensia Völckers (artistic director)

• Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum für Europäisch-Jüdische Studien, Miriam Rürup (director)

• Museum am Rothenbaum – Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK), Barbara Plankensteiner (director)

• Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, Hartmut Dorgerloh (director)

• Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (rector)

• Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU Berlin, Stefanie Schüler-Springorum (director)

 

Other signers of the statement 

 

• Deutscher Bühnenverein, Carsten Brosda (president)

• DOK Leipzig, Christoph Terhechte (artistic and managing director)

• Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Wilfried Schulz (director and festival director Theater der Welt 2021)

• Forum Transregionale Studien, Andreas Eckert (CEO)

• Münchner Kammerspiele, Barbara Mundel (artistic director)

• Nationaltheater Mannheim, Christian Holtzhauer (artistic theater director)

• Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband – Gesamtverband e.V., Prof. Dr. Rolf Rosenbrock (chair)

• Schauspiel Köln, Stefan Bachmann (artistic director)

• Staatsschauspiel Dresden, Joachim Klement (artistic director)

• Theater Krefeld-Mönchengladbach, Michael Grosse (director)

• Thalia Theater, Joachim Lux (artistic director of Thalia Theater and president of the German Centre of the International Theatre Institute (ITI))

• Völkerkunde Museen in Leipzig, Dresden und Herrnhut, Léontine Meijer-van Mensch (director)

• Württembergischer Kunstverein, Hans D. Christ und Iris Dressler (directors)

 

For their expert advice and contributions to the discussion, the working group thanks:

 

• Aleida Assmann (professor emeritus of English and general literature)

• Stephan Detjen (journalist)

• Emily Dische-Becker (journalist)

• Anselm Franke (curator)

• Andreas Görgen

• Wolf Iro (cultural manager and author)

• Wolfgang Kaleck

• Thomas Krüger

• Christoph Möllers (professor for public law and philosophy of law)

• Michael Wildt (professor of German history in the 20th century with a focus on National Socialism)