▶ 1989 to 2019 - 30 years autumn '8930 years autumn '89 - let's call it revolution!?
Common reference for intervening practices 2019 in the East to strengthen solidarity
You are receiving this newsletter because you participated in the workshop “Houses of Democracy around the world” at the Global Forum on modern direct democracy in Rome in September 2018 or you were interested in this network.In the workshop mentioned above, we talked about houses of democracy (HoD) and an international network of these houses (see below). This newsletter itself was one of the ideas for this network. Therefore, we completed our first task! :-)
The basic idea of this newsletter is to stay connected, to get to know other HoD and to exchange experiences. Another HoD will edit every newsletter. We from Berlin admitted to write the "Number One" proposing a structure for it. Our proposal consists of three parts: (1) news from the network, (2) actual topics the editing HoD is working or thinking on and (3) a brief presentation of the editing HoD.
If you are interested in preparing HoD-Newsletter #3 and present your House of Democracy, let us know ASAP.The next newsletter will be edit by the «Politforum Käfigturm» in Bern/Switzerland, located in the heart of the capital of Switzerland in a former medieval prison tower.
So enjoy reading and be inspired for your work.
Rainer Wahls & Martin Burwitz
For the Foundation House of Democracy and Human Rights, Berlin
Any comments and ideas on this project are very welcome. Please contact: martin.burwitz🌐mehr-demokratie.de
Last October, groups, organizations and citizens from Berlin met in a workshop weekend “Do we call it revolution? 30 years after autumn ‘89” to prepare for activities and topics in 2019, plus a critical remembrance; and this process will be continued with groups, organizations and citizens beyond Berlin in January 2019.For more information about our events ▶
The house is administrated by a civil society trust foundation, politically independent with no funding from state, political parties or private companies. It provides seminar rooms, organizes political events and shows regularly exhibitions with different topics.
Prevention of human rights violations remains a goal of human rights education. Experience has shown that bodily harm is the most common juvenile offence along with property offences. In the prevention of crimes that violate human rights (bodily harm), human rights education with juvenile "perpetrators" cannot therefore be dispensed with. On February 1, 2012, the Foundation Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, with the kind support of the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" and the "Aktion Mensch", was able to begin implementing a human rights education project with juvenile delinquents.
The project was based on the idea that juvenile delinquents remain subjects of human rights and human dignity. Living in state institutions or state-authorised homes makes them a particularly vulnerable group for human rights violations. They were informed about the human and child rights to which they are entitled and about the possibilities of enforcing these rights. Among other things, they were put in a position to check to what extent their own institution fulfils its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Basic Law, the Berlin Constitution, etc. The group was informed about the human rights and children's rights to which they are entitled and about the possibilities of enforcing these rights.
The focus was on the right to a non-violent upbringing and the right to physical integrity. Many young people were victims of domestic violence before becoming violent themselves. The project also made references to Nazi history (children's concentration camp Litzmannstadt) and the GDR past (youth welfare institution Alt-Stralau) in order to sensitize young people to the subject of abuse and labour exploitation from the perspective of the victims at the time. The young project participants were thus addressed both as (potential) victims of human rights violations and as "perpetrators".
The project objective was to develop a human rights education programme for juvenile delinquents. To this end, educational materials for working with the target group were developed as part of the project and tested in a series of workshops with supplementary measures in two youth welfare institutions.
The concrete results formed the basis for a further revision of the concept and pedagogical material with a view to achieving the learning objectives and optimising the implementation of the programme. The project results will continue to be used in the educational work of the Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte Foundation and will also be made available to other interested educational institutions. For this purpose, a pedagogical manual was prepared and all materials were offered in parallel on a DVD and for download on the project website.
A project of the Foundation House of Democracy and Human Rights
Duration: 1 February 2012 until 31 January 2013
Project manager: Agnieszka Morawska (Research Assistant)
Contact: by phone 030.20165520 or email: kontakt🌐hausderdemokratie.de
The exhibition "The Short Autumn of Utopia" can be seen annually in the House of Democracy and Human Rights.
The exhibition was realized in 1999. The exhibition focuses on the history of the opposition groups, the relationship to the emigration movement, the development of the demonstrations, and attitudes towards the SED and the state apparatuses. The contradiction between the central result of the development, accession to the scope of the Basic Law, and the motives of its protagonists should become clear.
The material is structured by phases of the development of the movement that can be distinguished from each other chronologically and in terms of content:
The exhibition was designed and conceived by people and groups who made history in '89, committed and contentious. It is therefore not only based on generally accessible archive materials, but also complements them with previously unpublished materials - original documents, unused photos and authentic tools of the opposition, such as samizdat and leaflets. The exhibition is part of the public debate about the representation and assessment of the GDR and its end. Who archives, documents and dominates the "Wendegedächtnis"? The representatives of the GDR opposition were politically marginalized in the unification process; yet it is worth remembering their work unagitatedly, especially against the background of their initial successes and their failure. Controversies should not be prematurely lifted and closed, but made clearly visible. The aim is an equally unsentimental and provisional summary of the events of 1989..
Presentation at the Jugendstadtteilladen Hobrechtstr.83 on 21 December 2010 at 17:00 o'clock
Being at home means a lot, something very individual for everyone. One can perhaps say in general that it has something to do with feeling belonging. You can do that when that sense of belonging meets a sense of 'welcome. This theme was the subject of the exhibition presented on 21 December 2010. Photos and audio recordings on the theme "My home/ My home", made by children and young people from Neukölln, were presented on this day. The combination of picture and sound created the impression that one was actually on a journey through their home with the children.
In order to encourage visitors to the exhibition to reflect on their own situation, they were asked to write down their own ideas on the subject of "My Home" and introduce them into the exhibition.
The reconstruction and redefinition of the term home was the main goal of the project. The term, which is usually used one-sidedly in public discourse, was to be considered detached from national contexts. The motto was: "Home is where your heart is!
A project of the Foundation House of Democracy and Human Rights in cooperation with the Jugendstadtteilladen Hobrechtstr. 83, 12043 Berlin-Neukölln, with the kind support of Quartiersmanagement Donaustraße Nord.
Responsible for the project: Silke Buchner (Email: orga🌐hausderdemokratie.de)
A project by Elske Rosenfeld in cooperation with the Foundation Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, with the friendly support of the Landeszentrale für politische Bildungsarbeit Berlin
The series of events was seen as a continuation, but also as a first review of the commemoration processes for the 20th anniversary of the peaceful turn of 1989/90. Participants were invited to approach the historical period of 1989/90 once again in a series of conversations and presentations in order to examine the question of what forms of reference from today to this period are possible as a drastic political experience - and what it could tell us about the possibilities of political action today.
For their protagonists - in the GDR and other Eastern European countries - the experience of 1989/90 was a deep biographical caesura that initiated a far-reaching reorganisation of political and personal circumstances and imaginary worlds. This period was, however, not only important as such a moment of transition, but also represented a profound political experience in itself: a short but intense period in which it was possible and necessary to reach new common understanding on all aspects of living together. This experience of a moment of comprehensive political participation lives on in many protagonists as a unique political experience.
At the same time, however, these events also heralded a fundamental shift in political horizons beyond the boundaries of their immediate theatres in the former socialist countries: the comprehensive concepts of social change that had decisively shaped political action in Western societies (as an ideal/utopia or enemy image) were no longer valid.
In recent decades, this devaluation of ideological concepts and utopian drafts has been accompanied by a certain disillusionment and increasing political disinterest, which has been lamented by many sides, especially in view of the current global problems.
The series of events has invited to explore the question of whether and how the experience of 1989/90 as a moment of active political participation can be used as a model or resource for reflection on political, non-ideological forms of action. On the one hand, it looks back at materials from the period 1989/90, but also proposes to examine the current forms of reference to this historical moment - in commemorative events, in the media, in art and film - and to discuss to what extent these forms of dealing with history are also forms of political thought and action.
The events took place in the historic buildings of the Kunstfabrik am Flutgraben, a former factory on the border strip. As a place of overlap between the historical scene and the current art space, the venue was an integral part of the event concept, on the one hand as material, but also because the special approach of the project lies in the use of artistic material in connection with political and historical events. The aim was to initiate an exchange between the various interest groups in Berlin who deal with the subject of GDR history - in political, historical or artistic ways - between whom there is often little exchange.
The programme of events was intended to invite an examination of the historical experience of 1989/90, focusing on concrete political practices and contents of this period, and questioning their current relevance. In this way, it proposes to counter the currently frequently deplored political disinterest with this lived experience of political participation. At the same time, it was a concern of the project to bring together politically active, historically interested and artistic circles with an interest in this topic and to stimulate an exchange across disciplinary boundaries.
June 11, 17 - 19:
"Phantasmagorias of History - 1989 and other Ghosts of History"
Interview with Svetlana Boym in the Flutgraben e.V.. Moderation: Elske Rosenfeld
The event served to introduce and contextualize the topics of the series of events. The literary scholar and artist Svetlana Boym spoke on her theoretical and artistic examination of historical upheavals in Eastern Europe and on the question of how to approximate the potentials of certain historical situations that could only partially or not be realized from today. Boym's lecture was followed by a discussion between Boym and Elske Rosenfeld involving the audience, in which topics such as the danger and potential of nostalgia as an access to history and the similarities and differences between upheavals in Eastern Europe were discussed.
10 July, 17 - 19
"Art and 89"
Gespräch, Flutgraben e.V., with Tina Bara, Claus Löser and Angelika Richter. Moderation: Elske Rosenfeld
The event focused on two sets of questions: the relationship between alternative art scenes in the GDR and politics, and the difficulties of evaluating them with today's Western, art-historical, and theoretical vocabulary. The main problem that came to light was that artists in the GDR were increasingly attempting to work away from politics and society in order to evade the state's claim to a social role. Today, however, their political function and interdependence are seen and historicized in positions that are either state-bearing or resistant. The current debates about such a distinction between state art and non-conformist art were also outlined and the associated difficulty discussed. In addition, the artists and art historians talked about their own involvement in these historical processes, whether as participants or observers.
31 July, 17 - 19
"1989 as workshop of the political"
Interview with Sophia Bickhardt, Bernd Gehrke and Annett Gröschner. Moderation: Elske Rosenfeld
The event tried to look back at the memorial processes and events of the last year, in which the participants were partly involved. The question was discussed whether and how the political-utopian aspects of 1989/90 became visible in different forms of commemoration and proposals were discussed as to how the experience of 89/90 as a resource of political work can function today, which aspects of this experience are still relevant today. At the same time, the participants talked about their dual role as contemporary witnesses and memory workers, and the associated problems, but also the strengths of historical work from their own biographical experience.
31 August, 19 -21 o'clock
"Political work in the tradition of 1989?"
Interview in the Flutgraben e.V. with Sebastian Gehrhardt, Andreas Fanizadeh and Dirk Teschner. Moderation: Elske Rosenfeld
The discussion invited representatives of groups and institutions, such as the House of Democracy and Human Rights and the magazine telegraf, to reflect on the continuity of their work, which originated in the opposition movement of the GDR, but continues to this day. The question was how to do justice to the peculiarity of such a political tradition and its difference from West German political traditions without falling into clichéd attributions. On the other hand, a concrete historical situation of the early 1990s was taken up, in which political groups from West Germany met with East German groups, when a union of left-wing groups and bands from the old federal states organized an anti-racism tour through various East German cities. This example was very well suited to reassess the sometimes considerable misunderstandings and differences of opinion at the time and to jointly consider how an appropriate way of dealing with these differences - as far as they still exist - can be found today.
Review in more detail at elskerosenfeld.net
In January 1990, GDR opposition groups took possession of Friedrichstrasse 165 as the House of Democracy. To mark the 15th anniversary of the House, which has existed since 1999 as the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Prenzlauer Berg, the exhibition on the history of what is currently the largest NGO house in Germany was created. Emerging from the GDR opposition movement of autumn 1989, the House has remained a point of reference for civil society efforts to this day.
The exhibition gave an insight into the everyday life of democratic grassroots work. It provided impetus for a discussion about the place of alternative groups in society - in the GDR, at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and in the enlarged Federal Republic. These groups are dependent on finding social support. Unlike the holders of state and private power, they need public discussion for their work. Thus they are not only critics, but also critics. The exhibition wanted to invite discussion and cooperation.
The texts of the exhibition "Diversity and Dialogue" are summarized in a brochure which can be downloaded here: Download PDF-Dokument
The fact that the history of our house has always been more than the history of a building can be seen in the table of contents of the exhibition and brochure:
The exhibition and the accompanying series of events were a cooperation project of Cultur Cooperation Hamburg e.V., Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag and Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte.
In all the armed conflicts of recent years, children are affected to a far greater extent than in the past. It is not by chance that children become victims because they are caught between the fronts. They are attacked in a targeted manner. Systematic terror against the civilian population has now become an integral part of war tactics worldwide. 90% of those killed are women and children. 300,000 children and young people are abused as soldiers in wars.
How do children deal with the horrors of war? They draw. For many children who have been speechless by what they have experienced, painting can be a first step towards freeing themselves from this burden. The pictures help them to integrate what they have experienced into their lives so that they can live on. For us, however, it must be said that these images are documents of war and have only one message: you should have prevented that.
Francoise and Alfred Brauner have collected around 2000 children's drawings from the wars of the last century in 60 years. Children's drawings from the Spanish Civil War, Cambodia, Algeria, El Salvador, Chechnya, Hiroshima, Bosnia, Iraq. The pictures speak for themselves, they touch us. However, they also raise the question: What are we doing today to prevent similar things happening to children all over the world?
Kill by Khmer Rouge, Khmer Rouge massacre (1975-1998)
No name given, boy, 12 years, Cambodia
Remarkable: In all pictures about the Khmer Rouge the passivity of the victims catches the eye:
they wait in long rows for their murder. The children's comments on the pictures underline the feeling of powerlessness.
Provenance: International Rescue Committee, Thailand, New York 1982
The Shooting Soldier, Civil War in El Salvador (1981-1990)
No name given, El Salvador
A soldier shoots a woman and her child. Striking: Two witnesses between the row of trees on the top right: they have neither mouth nor nose, only eyes that have seen everything.
Provenance: Fire from the sky, Ed. Writers and Readers, New York
Execution, Algeria War (1954-1962)
This picture was not painted, but cut out. It comes from a home for evacuated Algerian children in Tunis. A French soldier shoots at an Algerian who has surrendered. The bullets are on their way, the man is still standing. Remarkable: The three clouds. Such rows in the drawings indicate that the child 'secures' itself against the chaos of war.
Origin: Racconti di bambini d'Algeria, Einaudi, Turin
The dead sister, Chechnya 1994
Alisa, girl, 12 years old
Alisa draws her sister who was killed by a grenade.
Provenance: Médicins du Monde, Brauner Collection
The exhibition and the supporting programme were supported by the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the State Development Centre (LEZ).
The memory of 17 June '53 has always been politically controversial in a special way. The historical content of the event can only be discovered beyond hasty political appropriation. The depiction of personal conflicts and individual decisions is particularly suited to provide a basis for a broad public debate. The orientation towards individual life courses can undermine the circumstantial distancing or identification with history and present the difficult and changing position of the individual in political developments. The time of the spectacular uprising thus brings the prehistory and processing of the crisis of 1953 into view.
The House of Democracy and Human Rights organised a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of "17 June". The aim was to make the upheavals of 1953 personally comprehensible on the basis of contrasting biographies - life before and after the uprising - and in this way to give visitors an individual approach to contemporary history. The selection of the persons presented and the speakers from various countries will make it possible to present the European context of 17 June 1953: not only a chronology, but also a topography of upheaval in which the biographies of the persons involved can be found.
The material for this series will be compiled on the basis of literature research, archive materials and interviews with contemporary witnesses and participants. 10 evening events were planned. On one evening, one or two persons - contemporary witnesses, politicians, trade unionists, artists - whose lives and fates were particularly linked to the events of the year '53 were presented. Experts (e.g. historians, journalists) and participants discussed the various biographies.