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November 15, 2018

Cultural Institutions Across Germany Unite Against the Far Right

BERLIN, GERMANY—Museums and cultural organizations in the city-states of Berlin, Hamburg, and the North Rhine-Westphalia are taking a stand against rising nationalism in Germany. Hundreds of institutions have signed declarations denouncing the “illegitimate attempts made by right-wing nationalists to exploit art and cultural events for their own purposes.”

More than 140 Berlin-based organizations, including members of the KW Institute, the Berlin Biennale, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, signed the first declaration, titled “Berlin Declaration of the Many,” which was spearheaded by the nonprofit Die Vielen, on November 9. According to Die Vielen, November 9 was specifically chosen as the date to launch the movement because it is the anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany. It also marks Hitler’s failed Beer Hall uprising in 1923 and the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis attacked synagogues and Jewish shops and homes in 1938.

The declaration states that right-wing populism is threatening the freedom of the arts in the country. It reads: “Right-wing groups and parties frequently disrupt events, aim to determine repertoires, polemicize against the freedom of art and above all are working on the renationalization of culture.”

Musuems, theaters, galleries and other arts venues in Dresden, Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt also created their own declarations, which outline eleven commitments. By signing, the cultural institutions pledge to lead an “open, enlightening, and critical” dialogue on right-wing strategies and to not provide a platform for nationalist propaganda.

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