Three Questions for Christian Lindner, Federal Minister of Finance

"Bearing Responsibility for National Socialist Injustice"—What does that mean to you personally?

Today’s younger generations are not the perpetrators of National Socialist injustice, they are not guilty. But remembrance of the terrible crimes of the past must serve as a constant reminder to us that we must never allow this to happen again. With every historical eyewitness who passes away, our own moral responsibility grows: We must ensure that the injustices of National Socialism not be forgotten. The most effective route is to train and strengthen awareness and willingness. Only when the monstrosity of National Socialism has penetrated the conscience, does the possibility of repetition diminish, as Theodor Adorno put it.

In a recent study by the EVZ Foundation, one in four respondents agreed with the statement that it was time to stop focusing on Germany’s Nationalist Socialist past. How does the Federal Ministry of Finance respond to this mood, given its mandate to carry responsibility forward?

We cannot and will not dismiss the past. What happened is an indelible part of our German identity. In the fight against forgetting, trivialization, and denial, we therefore need to continue to come to terms with the injustices of National Socialism and to engage in lively educational work. As the Federal Ministry of Finance, we support this endeavor in many ways, working closely with the EVZ Foundation and selected project sponsors, as well as with other institutions such as the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Unfortunately, we observe with great concern in Germany that antisemitic and racist crimes on the streets, in schoolyards, and especially under the cover of the anonymity on the Internet, continue to rise. This is shocking and shameful. But it is precisely for this reason that we must work even more intensively to raise awareness, to educate, to actively oppose all forms of violence and discrimination, and to emphasize and promote the importance of our moral responsibility.

With the passing of eyewitnesses, there is a need for new approaches to commemorative work on National Socialist injustice: How can we convey the lessons learned from the National Socialist past to future generations?

It is appalling that increasing numbers of young people are losing touch with the history of National Socialism. And that is precisely why our historical responsibility includes finding new, contemporary forms of knowledge transfer, remembrance, and civic commitment. Support for modern youth-oriented educational work and a culture of remembrance can break new didactic and digital ground. And of course, we must never stop talking to each other about the cruelty and contempt for humanity that typified the National Socialist regime. A willingness to engage in dialog remains our most important value.