Dr. Franziska Müller
phone: 0176 7088 2847
phone: 0178 6208 007
Over three days at our annual festival in the heart of Weimar, a unique location in Germany, you can listen and participate in discussions on more than twenty panels. Films and panel discussion on films are equally as thought-provoking as concerts and readings, and our guests –– academics, contemporary witnesses, artists and diplomats –– vividly bring the past to life thanks to their personal touch and scope of their individual experiences. All this is free of charge, of course. Sponsored by the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM)), the Thuringian State Chancellery, and the City of Weimar, this year’s history festival will specifically focus on communicating the history of democracy throughout Germany and Europe.
Democracy concerns us all. A vibrant democracy requires both participation and a creative will in order to shape and steer it resolutely into the future. And yet, what we’re currently witnessing in Germany as well as in other countries is how democracy has been increasingly endangered by populist hate speech and a dwindling awareness of democracy amongst the population. The general consensus is that we can only live in the present and shape our futures if we know not only the origins but also the numerous struggles our democracy has overcome, and whether we fully realize how it has evolved throughout the European and international spheres. Those specific locations, squares, streets, and above all individuals who championed the cause of democracy across Germany can and must be situated at the heart of any debate on the history of democracy.
As a nationally visible, vibrant forum for the history of democracy, the annual »Weimar Rendez-vous with History« aims to discuss the history of both democracy and dictatorships in a scientific, inclusive, and intergenerational manner. Our diverse festival program enables intensive and continuous exchanges, which are highly relevant for social interaction. At the same time, the festival also offers a networking- and training-platform for history educators (e.g. from museums and memorial sites), as well as the opportunity to communicate the latest findings to an interested and broad public, thereby entering into an all-encompassing dialogue between science and society.
Initiated by Franka Günther in 2009, this unique discussion format has repeatedly and successfully brought together an interested citizenry, teachers, history educators, pupils and students with national and international experts from the fields of history, political science, social science and media studies. A cultural – and sometimes culinary – program and a festival café ensure variety, thus affording it the feel of a real festive occasion. The highly diverse three-day program consists of panel discussions, lectures, film screenings, as well as a host of other cultural events. The festival’s annual motto is determined by a scientific advisory board in order to promote dialogue between the various social actors at a high intellectual and scientific level. The Rendez-vous, however, is by no means a specialist congress or a scientific conference; it is truly meant for »the man and woman on the street« and completely free of charge to boot.
The driving idea has been to make this festival a vibrant forum for the history of democracy –– unlike memorials, monuments, or museums – as well as an adaptable and at the same time perennial venue at which people can meet and exchange ideas every year. The discussions conducted at the festival ensure its vibrancy. Unlike other locations in Germany, Weimar can particularly boast of major milestones in the nation’s history of democracy as well as its erstwhile dictatorship. From a historical perspective, both are closely intertwined and are present throughout the city through the presence of the Klassikstiftung, the Buchenwald Memorial, and the House of the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Rendez-vous is closely linked to all these institutions and creates a cross-institutional program on the annual festival weekend, aptly called the »History Day.«
The Festival is underpinned by five key strands:
- Dialogue forum: the festival has geared itself to dialogue and exchange among visitors, who are not only entertained but can also actively contribute to the proceedings. Spaces are thus created in which open and at the same time highly responsive conversations can take place.
- Historical-political education: the festival has significantly contributed to deepening historical-political education and to discussing democratic cultures of remembrance on account of its academically-based content and its clear focus on the history of democracy, as well as its humanities and social science content. The scientific content is prepared in a form that enables access to participants from non-academic circles.
- International Scope: the festival’s international orientation plays an integral role in its raison d’etre, because it is only when other perspectives are taken into consideration, e.g. on European neighbours or even on non-European topics, that discussions are enlivened and tolerance and diversity promoted – among speakers and visitors alike.
- Accessibility: it offers a free festival for the general public.
- Diversity: the festival offers variety, both in terms of content and programs that serve a broad spectrum of interests, thus enabling a truly diverse dialogue.