Welcome Address from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany
Germany and North America have enjoyed close ties for centuries. The highs and lows of history are reflected in the relations between our countries. Germans emigrated to the US and Canada in search of new opportunities and a better life. In the darkest chapter of German history, North America was a place of refuge, in particular for Germans of Jewish faith. And yet even after the devastation of war, Germany still had a place in the hearts and minds of the older generation.
But how do young Jewish North Americans perceive Germany today? There are probably a great many associations – which of these spring to mind? Germany, a country with a long history, where Jews lived under changing and often difficult circumstances for centuries? Germany, a place of National Socialist racist barbarity from which the murder of the Jews of Europe was orchestrated? But also Germany as a modern, globally minded, European country that examines its past critically and is actively opposed to anti Semitism around the world? And, last but not least, Germany, where today Jewish life is flourishing anew and with great diversity?
Germany Close Up can offer answers to your questions. “Whoever goes on a trip has stories to tell,” says the English translation of a German proverb. Participants can experience Germany and talk about it back at home. They are building their very own bridges across the Atlantic and are helping to strengthen the ties between the US and Canada and Germany for the future.
I hope that many young North Americans will visit Germany and would like to offer them a very warm welcome!