HdDM - Our self-conception
The Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte at Greifswalder Straße 4 in Berlin is the first building to bring together the East German Citizens' Movement and the West German Human Rights Movement under one roof. As a central place of work for the idea and practice of the citizens' movement in Germany, it is open to all related initiatives and non-governmental organisations.
In December 1989, the house at Friedrichstraße 165 was handed over by the Central Round Table of the GDR from the assets of the SED parties to the East German citizens' movements. We renamed it the "House of Democracy". Almost ten years later - after a long dispute about the clarification of the property situation and after a political decision of the Party Property Commission against the house - the move to Greifswalder Straße 4 took place in autumn 1999 and the new beginning took place in the "Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte", which was twice the size. A thousand meters before Alexanderplatz, it is now located right on the border between the districts of Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte, and Friedrichshain.
The founding organisations of 1989 and the subsequent groups in the House are united by the conviction that citizens' political self-determination must also be exercised and promoted outside the parties and party structures.
Commitment to human rights in the broadest sense - to individual freedom rights, the right to ecological integrity, the rights of the disadvantaged 2/3 world, the increasingly distressed social human rights, and not least the citizens' right to direct interference in the political decision-making processes - represents the unifying bond that links the various organizations and initiatives in the Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte.
Citizen movements work in a grassroots democratic and dialogue-oriented way. Their principle is not the rationality of exploitation, but that of understanding. The bundling of social competence, as it develops among people in solidarity, is the most important force they oppose to state or private rule. Their non-violence and ability to engage in dialogue in political disputes are based on the conviction that the means used must correspond to the desired goals. The groups working in our house are united in the view that the propagation of fascist, dictatorial, sexist and racist ideas is intolerable. They therefore emphasise their solidarity with the victims of such attacks and their intention to offer active support to them and to those affected by social discrimination.
The Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte will continue to be a think tank, a place of dialogue, a place of commitment to human rights and a place where citizens can become more involved in community decision-making. It is public space for the necessary counter-public in the joint process of German and European unification.