Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Friederike at the Museum

On Monday evening the director of Freiburg’s Carl-Schurz-Haus Friederike Schulte gave a lecture at the premises of the Museumsgesellschaft titled ”German-American Relations Today”

The Museumsgesellschaft is Freiburg’s oldest Bürgergesellschaft. Civil society is not the correct translation for in this case Bürgergesellschaft rather signifies a special society of citizens with a common interest. In 1806 it was the common acquisition of at that time expensive books, journals, and newspapers to be shared by all members of the Lesegesellschaft (reading society), the initial name of the Museumsgesellschaft. Here you may like to read about its history and the change of name.

The Lesegesellschaft was founded at the time when Napoleon ruled over Europe and when following Austria’s total defeat in the battle of Austerlitz the French emperor ordered that the Catholic Breisgau, the Schwanzfeder (tail feather) of the Habsburg empire, was ”married by force” to the Protestant Grand Duchy of Baden.

Friederike competent and charming at the rostrum of the Museumsgesellschaft
Friederike refrained from directly diving into present day US politics but rather recalled the history of the Carl-Schurz-Haus and the past of German-American relations with sometimes nostalgic undertones. America Houses were initially founded mostly in university towns shortly after the war. Friedrike informed the audience about the ups and downs of Freiburg’s Amerikahaus starting in the 1960s when many of those American bridgeheads disappeared not so much because the US regarded the education of the German people in democratic values as finished but rather due to reduced funding from the States. In some towns, German authorities took over the financing of existing Houses. In the case of Freiburg, the city council guaranteed the existence of the American foothold in town while renaming the America House after Carl Schurz, the Baden revolutionary who fled Germany as a 48er and started a political career in the States.

Nowadays Freiburg’s Carl-Schurz-House is half financed by the state of Baden-Württemberg, the city of Freiburg, and the US embassy (5%), but is proud to raise the other half of its yearly budget of about one million dollars by member fees, paid language courses and cultural events.

Red Baron frequently attends those well-organized events and blogged about some of the highlights. Here my blogs are presented in chronological order: The NSA and No End, What's Brewing?, Armageddon, Is This a Beer Or Not a Beer ..., The Freiburg Writers' Group, Napoleon Is to Blame for Everything, An American in Berlin, A Noble Cause For Religion, My Digital Revolution, I'm Going to Bring the Jobs Back, Shielding Democracies?, and Journalism 2.0.

Thanks to its dynamic management the Carl-Schurz-Haus offers more events in a year than there are days.

Friederike skilfully and moderately incorporated the present political development in the States into her talk, a development that causes incomprehension, shaking of heads, and German angst, particularly with the older generation.

The generous US who helped to rebuild Europe after the war where their mission of democratization mostly succeeded suddenly retorts with aggressive tweets and acts. It is true that in NATO Europe relied in its defense too much on the United States. In Germany, the equipment of the Bundeswehr is in a deplorable state so more money is needed and is made available.

On the other hand, the US trade deficit is homemade. Here in Europe we too had to run down many industries due to cheap competition from Asian and African countries. POTUS in his erratic way mixes NATO and the American balance of payment:


There is a grain of truth in his tweet. European countries buying more advanced military equipment from the States will help to improve the American trade balance. On the other hand, unilateral tariffs followed by retaliatory measures will kill the global economy.


Friederike’s talk was on July 16, the evening of the Helsinki summit between President Trump and President Putin. Late in the night, I read the following blog.

But then is his usual way POTOS pedaled back as CNN reported on July 17:

President Trump moments ago said he misspoke during his Monday news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump was talking about interference in the 2016 election when he said, "I don't see any reason why it would be" the Russians.
Now, POTUS corrected, "In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn’t. 'The sentence should have been: 'I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia."



Thank you, Friederike, for keeping your head up. Keep on informing the Freiburgers about the American democracy based on checks and balances that still work in spite of an erratic president. Many a hope is placed into the upcoming midterm elections but how will POTUS react if the results are not to his liking? Will those results be a fake?

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