Annette Schavan, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the EVZ Foundation, talks about hatred against Jews and how the EVZ Foundation can now help with specific funding and activities.

Three Questions for... Annette Schavan

1. Ms. Schavan, as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the EVZ Foundation - how do you view the world situation since the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel on October 7?

October 7 is a turning point with far-reaching implications. Hamas has perpetrated a pogrom and wants to eradicate Judaism. The brutality with which people were murdered goes beyond our imagination. I am deeply horrified by the hatred against Jews that is now evident worldwide. This makes it terribly clear that the lessons from the Shoah are being rejected. The reports of hatred of Jewish people at elite universities in the USA, demonstrations in Germany involving clear antisemitic messages, Jews who no longer feel safe on the streets of European cities, travel warnings for Jews - these are all devastating developments. They will keep us busy for a long time and now demand clear language, civil courage and solidarity with Jewish people. Ultimately, an international intellectual debate on the future of civilizations as well as the ethical constitution of religiously and culturally diverse modern societies is needed. We must not have any spiral of silence!


2. The number of antisemitic attacks is increasing. Jewish people feel increasingly under threat - in Germany as well. How can the EVZ Foundation help with concrete funding and activities now?

The EVZ Foundation will bolster its activities in Germany. Together with other foundations, it can specifically appeal to the young, culturally diverse generation and help them to develop a compass. "YOUNG PEOPLE remember" is a good stimulus in this context. For some time now, I have been concerned with the question of how historical and political education will be facilitated in our schools in the future. In terms of the pupils, our schools are international. This has implications for learning cultures, for rules to be agreed that govern the way people interact with each other and for educational content in school subjects relating to history, politics, culture and religion. Schools will need civil society partners as well as greater solidarity for a learning atmosphere that has consistency and commitment. In 2021, the EVZ Foundation started a promising cooperation with companies, authorities and cultural institutions with the Education Agenda. This stimulus can also help to bring the culture of remembrance from special contexts into the sphere of everyday life. We need to raise awareness of all the behavior that leads to hatred and exclusion, violence and terror today.


3. We are now living in a time of multiple crises and conflicts, and the Ukrainian population continues to be exposed to Russia's war. Our local partner organizations are reporting that many survivors of National Socialist persecution are struggling to survive the winter. How can civil society in Ukraine be further strengthened in this situation?

This winter, and probably for some time to come, the focus in Ukraine will be on humanitarian aid. Particularly vulnerable groups, such as survivors of Nazi persecution, some of whom are very old, are in urgent need of all kinds of support. The work of the Aid Network for Survivors of Nazi Persecution in Ukraine and many other local partners is saving lives and giving hope. In addition to humanitarian aid, in view of the difficult situation this year, we have significantly increased the financial resources available under the Solidarity Budget - thus strengthening Ukrainian civil society in the long term, including those in exile in Europe. It is important to me that we broaden our horizons and continue to strengthen those actors from Belarus and Russia who are sending a clear signal against Russia's war, which violates international law. Almost two years after the expansion of Russian terror against Ukraine, there is one thing that matters most: We must all continue to highlight the suffering of Ukrainian civilians as a result of this war. We must not get tired and close our eyes to the injustice, but continue to provide vital aid to the people of Ukraine at all levels. We can all do something!

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