September 28, 2018

Association of German Historians Releases Statement on the Current Threats to Democracy

The 52nd Biennial Meeting of the Association of German Historians was held in Muenster from September 25 to 28 and focused on the theme of divided societies. Taking inspiration from the meeting, GHI Director Simone Lässig, along with other prominent historians from the Association of German Historians (VHD – Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands), contributed to a resolution on how historians can help respond to the current threats to democracy in Germany and around the globe.

In light of the current political climate, historians must take seriously their duty to warn society about attacks on democratic institutions and the foundations for political order. The study of history plays an important role in providing context for the present’s complex political and social problems as well as fleshing out their complicated origins. To that end, the statement recommends historically informed guidelines that are essential for continuing democratic cooperation in politics and society. They are in favor of a historically sensitive language and against discriminatory terms and concepts; in favor of parliamentary democracy and a pluralistic culture of debate and against populism; in favor of a unified Europe and against nationalist unilateralism; in favor of humanitarianism and the rule of law and against discrimination against migrants; and for a critical examination of the past and against politically motivated misuses of history. 

The resolution was adopted by the general assembly of members on September 27, 2018 in Münster.