The platform “Democracy on the ground – encouraging local investigations and democratic participation” seeks to address both the history of democracy and contemporary local involvement. Its purpose is to encourage civic commitment in associations, projects and initiatives. We are constantly expanding the platform to adapt it to the needs of users. In addition, we offer advice and help for local activities, fieldwork, and inspiring projects on the history of democracy, as well as a geographical database for initiatives to register themselves. Today you can already find more than 400 initiatives in the categories “Against Right-wing Extremism”, “Co-shaping Democracy”, “Making History Visible”, and “Counselling Services Against Right-wing Extremism”.
The platform is a collaborative project between Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. and the Bündnis für Demokratie und Toleranz (Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance), whose administrative offices are part of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education).
“Online counselling against right-wing extremism” seeks to inform and advise people who encounter right-wing extremism in their private or professional environment. When your son suddenly brings new “friends” home and listens to right-wing rock, or when a Turkish teammate is being harassed, one can often feel helpless. Online counselling is particularly suitable for those who are looking for help but wish to remain anonymous. Offering quick and competent support since 2008, the service has reached people who due to geographical distance, shame or fear wouldn’t have sought advice in a traditional way.
History for a changing society
In Germany, public discourse on issues of immigration and integration can often narrow down to Turkey and the Arab nations as regions of origin. But immigration movements into Germany are more diverse. Look toward Eastern and Southeastern Europe – every fourth migrant living in Germany has his roots in an ex-communist Eastern European or Southeastern European country. Already before 1989, people from communist states had emigrated to the German Federal Republic as “resettlers”, political refugees or so called “guest workers”. After 1989, the number of immigrants from formerly communist states increased significantly, particularly through the absorption of returning ethnic Germans, Jews with special immigration status, civil war refugees from the former Yugoslavia, and Eastern European migrant workers. Around 6.7 percent of the current population of Germany comes from areas of the former Soviet Union, former Yugoslavia, Poland and Romania.
Funded by the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (a foundation devoted to the examination and reappraisal of the SED dictatorship), Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie developed recommendations for action in historical-political education and scholarship on the subject “Life under communist dictatorship and the history of migration”.
The study addresses the questions of what “invisible baggage” people who had lived or whose families had lived in communist states have brought with them to Germany and how experiences under communist dictatorship can be acknowledged and positively handled. Twenty-nine proposals give recommendations for historical-political education in scholarship, schools and outside school, as well as advice for decision makers in municipalities and other areas of public life.
The 40-page brochure is available through the Berlin offices of Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. for free. If you are interested please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or dial 030/263978-0.
“Learning to argue against right-wing and other stereotypes” helps people to defend their position in the face of intransigence. The course assesses the content and impact of populist statements and discusses their political and social consequences, as well as counter-strategies. School pupils who have previously undergone the training act as instructors.
The project was initially introduced in schools in Berlin and Bornheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, and has been more widely applied since 2014. A pilot project saw eleven ambassadors from the Anne Frank Centre, Berlin train to become argumentation instructors during a three-day seminar at a Tu Was e.V. workshop in Tüschau, Wendland. Similar seminars and a manual for the argumentation training method are set to follow.
This initiative is funded by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education).
Are you interested in implementing argumentation training in your institution or would you simply like to find out more about it? Please get in touch with us at our offices:
Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V.
D -10785 Berlin
+49 (0)30 263979-43
A platform for civic action
There is great willingness in Germany to commit to an open and colourful society. Many people get together in initiatives to actively promote tolerance and democratic coexistence. Unfortunately, not all of these initiatives get the public attention they deserve.
The platform “You do something good, and we talk about it!” wishes to make these commitments visible to wider circles and give others the chance to be inspired by ideas and activities and to network. The development of this platform was made possible with the support of the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government of Germany.
The online platform “Sport with courage” is a service by athletes for athletes. It collects compact, practical information and material on right-wing extremism in sport and addresses athletes, coaches, youth leaders and officials.
The platform was developed through the online counselling of Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. and the state sports associations of eastern Germany. By joining the project, the associations make the point that they are conscious of their social responsibility. Sport has strong educational, social, ethical and democratic potential, which is not realized without conscious effort. Eastern German sports associations see it as their duty to guarantee that their members live out sporting values and ideals. “Sport with courage” makes a valuable contribution towards this.
The platform is funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior within the federal programme “Zusammenhalt durch Teilhabe” (“Cohesion through participation”), which supports projects in the field of democratic participation. It is implemented by a coordinating body at the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education).
The online platform
“Make the difference!” is online training for civic courage. Users can learn very practically how to react when confronted with discrimination, racism, or right-wing extremism in everyday (sporting) life. Seven short films present different situations and suggest five ways to react to each. Users can slip into the role of a dedicated ice-hockey team captain, for example, to come up with ideas for how to react in contentious situations, discriminatory or otherwise. As they say: “Anything is better than doing nothing and turning away.” Any attempt to take a stand, makes a difference.
A youth team of the Berliner Eisbären ice hockey club agreed to act out and co-develop scenes which were rehearsed and produced with the filmmakers of lookzoom. Creative direction, design and technical implementation were by zone35.
Make the difference! in schools, education and training
Numerous queries from teachers have motivated us to develop educational materials to enable the use of “Make a difference!” in schools and education. This way, young people can be introduced to the topic of discrimination in a playful way.
Newly developed teaching material offers an extensive deepening of the package available on the online platform. Example situations now go further than the area of sport and can be negotiated between students. “Make the difference!” can now be a game about civic courage, in which players discuss decisions and look for solutions together.
The materials can be obtained from the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education) through the bpb shop.
“Make the difference!” is part of the online portal “Sport with courage”. It was developed from “Online counselling against right-wing extremism” by Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. in cooperation with the state sports associations of eastern Germany and deals with the subject of right-wing extremism in organized sports. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior within the federal programme “Zusammenhalt durch Teilhabe” (“Cohesion through participation”), which supports projects in the field of democratic participation, and by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education).
History for a changing society
The demographic composition of German school classes is changing, as ever more girls and boys come from immigrant backgrounds. This state of affairs has to be taken into account in History lessons and civic education. Since part of a school class may not have a personal connection to Germany’s past, new methods and thematic approaches are required to make recent history interesting for all – for example, by including the history of migration. To help with this, Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. has compiled a handbook funded by and in cooperation with the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education).
The online platform “Promoting dialogue!” combines elements of political-historical education and solution-oriented systemic approaches. The platform, which went online at the beginning of 2014, invites users to consider multiple points of view when engaging with socially relevant topics that are typically adopted and brought into public discourse by leftist or left-extremist circles.
In particular, the page addresses representatives of leftist-alternative and left-wing radical groups, alongside municipalities, police and businesses. A fundamental scepticism separates leftist groups from these latter entities and can make any dialogue difficult. Very quickly, conflicts can appear unsolvable and threaten to escalate.
By telling true stories, the platform shows how these kinds of difficult situations can be avoided with the right preventative measures. The accounts relate conflicts from different points of view and suggest different ways of responding to familiar situations. One can learn as much from mistakes as from new approaches to solving problems.
The Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie Prize recognizes and supports outstanding dedication to the goals expressed in the association’s charter, to the values of democracy, and to developing suitable ways of coming to terms with the past or tackling right-wing extremism. A focus is placed on initiatives by individuals, civic engagement, and influential ideas with the potential for a wider impact. Against the background of German history and in an ever-more integrated Europe, internationally oriented projects receive special attention.
Awards are given to individuals, initiatives, or projects. Prizewinners are chosen by a jury composed of the prize’s founder, Mr Rainer Braam, and the chairperson and deputy chairpersons of the association. The prize is awarded annually at a public ceremony, where an address is given by a relevant luminary.
The prize comes with a financial award of €7,500, made available by the sponsor, which also donates up to €5,000 for the award ceremony itself. The prize is sponsored by the Frauke-Weber-und Rainer-Braam-Foundation (formerly the Rainer-Braam-Foundation, B & W Media Service GmbH, Essen).
The Waltraud Netzer Youth Prize recognizes youth projects that actively engage with history and/or promote the development of a thriving democracy. A special focus is placed on initiatives by individuals, civic engagement, and influential ideas with the potential for a wider impact. Both projects by youth and projects for youth are awarded.
The winners are chosen by the executive board of Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie e.V. The prize is awarded annually together with the Gegen Vergessen - Für Demokratie Prize at a public ceremony, where an address is given by a relevant luminary.
The prize comes with a financial award of €1,500 made available by the sponsor, the healthcare provider Dr. Nikolaus Netzer Verw. GmbH.
The award is presented in memory of Waltraud Netzer, who together with her fellow students granted shelter to persecuted people under National Socialism. She became involved in the SPD after the war and was a district counsellor in Munich-Schwabing for 20 years.