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Thank you Germany: Part 026: Pronounced historical awareness ensures responsibility


Another important quality of Germany is the great historical awareness and the culture of remembrance that is cultivated in the country. People have learned something from history here. There are probably very few other countries that have dealt with their own past so intensively over many years. The examination of the dark chapters of German history has found its way into schools, just as there is a broad culture of remembrance in public debate and in urban areas. Each decade continues to discover new themes.

Again and again, fascinating individual fates and stories are reappraised. Both the history of the perpetrators and murderers from National Socialism and the history of the victims and resistance are considered. Each generation finds its own and ever new approach to dealing with the past. Many people take a special responsibility for the present with them from their examination of history. This special social and historical responsibility in the present is a great asset of German society. Other countries also deal with their own history. But only a few countries work as intensively and professionally on this issue as Germany.

There are many research projects that support this important debate. But schoolchildren also work on regional history from their own city in research-based learning projects or dedicate themselves to a very special fate. The respective reference to the topic can arise from very different perspectives. Some projects, for example, are dedicated to the history of Jewish athletes, others deal with the fate of Sinti and Roma. It is also important to appreciate the personal work that many pupils do in dealing with the subject. The art project Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones) commemorates houses where victims of National Socialism lived. The people are commemorated with small stones on the floor in front of their former homes. Many pupils initiate the laying of such Stolpersteine or subsequently work on the history of the individual fate.

In this way, a very concrete reference is made to biographies from their own town. A similar project with such a large participation of pupils and other people from civil society does not exist in other countries. Without a doubt, a strong historical awareness was created through the broad social work. From the confrontation with historical injustice, many of the active people turn against injustice and discrimination in the present. In this way, a strong sense of responsibility and civil society commitment has emerged that makes the people of the present strong. This positive side of the historical debate must not be forgotten. It is also something to be proud of and to consciously choose to live in this very country.

Not every other country offers such a strong historical debate as exists here. In many museums and memorial sites, people can also get a direct picture of history. The institutions also offer a diverse education programme for very different groups. Professional guided tours and qualified educational events are offered specifically for schoolchildren as well as senior citizens, young men and women.

Last updated on 6. February 2023

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