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Foundation

FAQ

1. When was the Foundation established?

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In 2005, the ruling parties at the time – the CDU, CSU and SPD – committed in their coalition agreement to “the societal and historical confrontation of forced migration, flight and expulsion” and resolved to establish, “in the spirit of reconciliation [...] a visible symbol” to “remember the injustices of expulsion and to prohibit expulsion forever.”

In March 2008, the Federal Government introduced a proposal for a “visible symbol against flight and expulsion.” This proposal formed the basis of the German Bundestag’s decision to establish the Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation in December of the same year.

The constitutive meeting of the Board of Trustees took place in May 2009. Two months later, the Foundation took up its work under the founding director, Prof. Dr. Manfred Kittel.

2. What is the Foundation’s legal structure?

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The Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation is a Public Law Foundation and is sponsored fully by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media. It is an dependent foundation under the auspices of the German Historical Museum Foundation.

3. Who are the decision-makers and advisors at the Foundation?

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The Board of Trustees determines the basic features of the Foundation’s programming and makes decisions regarding all basic affairs. The Board of Trustees consists of 21 members, 19 of which are selected by the Bundestag every five years. The Board includes representatives from the German Bundestag, the Federal Government, the Federation of Expellees, the Protestant and Catholic Churches, and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
The president of the German Historical Museum Foundation and the president of the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Foundation are ex officio members.

The Advisory Council is appointed by the Board of Trustees. This committee, comprised of national and international experts, advises the Board of Trustees and the Foundation on scholary matters. The Advisory Council has had 12 members since 2016.

Dr. Gundula Bavendamm has been the Director of the Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation since April 2016.

4. How is the Foundation financed?

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The Foundation, on the basis of Section 96 of the German Federal Expellee Law, is sponsored one-hundred-percent by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media. This law, which was passed in 1953, obligates the federal government and the states to preserve the cultural heritage of expellees and refugees and to promote scholarly research on this subject.

5. Is the Foundation a political foundation?

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The Foundation is non-partisan. Members of various parties and organizations are represented in the Board of Trustees in order to guarantee non-partisanship.

6. Is there a connection between the Foundation and the Federation of Expellees?

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No, there is no direct connection between the Foundation and the Federation of Expellees. However, the Federation of Expellees occupies six of a total of 21 members in the Board of Trustees, in accordance with the law establishing the Foundation.

7. Is there a connection between the Foundation and the Center Against Expulsions?

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No, there is no connection between the Foundation and the Center Against Expulsions. The Center Against Expulsions is an institution of the Federation of Expellees. The Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation is a non-partisan federal foundation.

8. Is there a connection between the Foundation and Erika Steinbach?

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No, there is no connection between the Foundation and Erika Steinbach, the former president of the Federation of Expellees.

9. What is the Foundation’s purpose?

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The mission of the Foundation is to keep alive the memory and commemoration of flight and expulsion in the twentieth century in the spirit of reconciliation and in the historical context of the Second World War, National Socialist expansion and extermination policy, and their consequences.

The Foundation’s main task at present is to establish a Documentation Center in Berlin with a permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions, a library, an archive, collections, event spaces, a room of silence for reflection, and offerings related to education and communication.

10. What is the Documentation Center?

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The Foundation’s future Documentation Center will feature a permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions, a library and an archive that grants access to eyewitness reports and accounts. In addition, events and offerings pertaining to education and communication are planned. There will also be a room of silence for individual reflection.

The building is currently being built in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, in the former Deutschlandhaus at the Anhalter train station.

11. When and where will the Documentation Center open?

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The Documentation Center is currently under construction in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. The Center will be housed in the former Deutschlandhaus, near the Anhalter train station, offering about 6,000 square meters of space, not far from Potsdamer Platz.

The building is owned by the Federal Institute for Real Estate Management. The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning supervises the renovations in accordance with the plans by  Marte.Marte Architects.

According to the construction schedule, the building will be handed over to the Foundation in February 2020 as a complete yet empty building. Subsequently, all of the Foundation’s public and non-public rooms will have to be furnished. This also includes the permanent exhibition on around 1,700 square metres. The initial furnishing period will take at least one year. Our goal is to open in spring 2021.

Until that time, the Foundation’s offices are located at Mauerstrasse 83/84 in Berlin-Mitte.

12. Is the Foundation already showing exhibitions?

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The Foundation’s priorities are to establish a new cultural institution and to realize the future permanent exhibition. The Foundation will therefore not present any exhibitions before the opening of the Documentation Center.

13. What are the Foundation’s subjects and themes?

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The Foundation will explore the causes, process and consequences of forced migration motivated by ethnic and religious concerns in the twentieth and twenty-first century in Europe and beyond.

One priority is the remembrance of the more than 12 million Germans, who, in the course of the war unleashed by the National Socialist regime, as well as the National Socialist policies of expansion and annihilation and their consequences, had to leave the former eastern Prussian provinces and settlement areas in Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe.

The use of expulsions for the alleged settlement of ethnic and religious conflicts is a global phenomenon. In twentieth-century Europe, the extreme nationalism and excessive violence of the World Wars led to massive expulsions and genocide.

Flight and expulsion are universal experiences. Countless people continue to feel its effects, up to the present day. The Foundation’s educational work sends a signal and highlights the injustice of forced migrations.

14. What role does the subject of flight and expulsion of Germans after the Second World War play?

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The flight, expulsion and experiences upon arrival of Germans during and after the Second World War constitute the focus of the permanent exhibition, but it is only one of the priorities among the Foundation’s work.

15. What role do contemporary flight and migration flows play?

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The Foundation addresses flight and expulsion as global phenomena, so contemporary flight and migration flows play an important role in the Foundation’s overall work.

The future permanent exhibition will provide an in-depth treatment of the causes, phenomena and discourses surrounding forced migration, thereby creating links to other relevant subjects, such as the current refugee crisis.

Regularly held special exhibitions will also address contemporary questions.

16. I have experienced flight and expulsion myself, or I know someone who has; does the Foundation collect personal stories and documents?

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Audiovisual biographical interviews have been conducted since 2013 for inclusion in the digital eyewitness archive. Thus far, numerous people from different regions have reported on their experiences with flight and expulsion, the loss of their homeland and their new beginnings. The effects on subsequent generations are taken into account by means of interviews with the descendants of expellees.

The Foundation also collects experience reports and testimonies from Germany and Europe.

Videos, audio documents, manuscripts and documents will be accessible to the public in the Documentation Center.

For more information on the interview project or on sending in written eyewitness reports, please contact us at geschichten@sfvv.de or call us at +49 (0)30 206 29 98-0.

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