The “Consultant for Cultural Affairs for Southeast Europe” has been working in affiliation with the Danube Swabian Museum since January 2002. The basis of her work is Article 96 of the Federal Law on Refugees and Exiles, through which the Federal Government and Federal States commit themselves to the “upkeep of the cultural assets of the expellees and to supporting academic research” as well as the preservation of German cultural assets in Central and Eastern Europe.
“If a European identity does not emerge in the Danube region, then where will it?” These words from Erhard Busek, former Austrian Foreign Minister and one of the most active proponents of the European strategy for the Danube region, outline the purpose, starting point and objectives of the Consultant’s work. Alongside maintaining and developing the specific regional cultural traditions of Germans in South-Eastern Europe, the Consultant’s main task is to convey the culture and history of Germans in Eastern Central and Southeast Europe to all interested parties both in and outside of Germany. This work is intended to make a wide-ranging impact. Working alongside people living in these regions today, the Consultant for Cultural Affairs actively dedicates herself to the preservation of our common European cultural heritage.
The diversity of the Danube region, with its great potential as well as its deficits, calls for stronger involvement in work fostering international cooperation. Here it is important to revitalise structures already in place and also to make new connections. On June 24th 2011 the European Council adopted the “EU Danube Strategy”, thus highlighting the importance of the Danube region in the future development of the EU. The EU Danube Strategy for the Danube region and its 115 million inhabitants offers a unique opportunity to promote cross-border cooperation and to accelerate sustainable economic and cultural development in Central and Eastern Europe.
Through workshops, seminars, lectures, touring exhibitions and also youth events held several times a year, the Consultant’s work takes into account recent calls for more profound involvement of civil society in decision making processes, encouraging civic involvement in the Danube region and gaining people’s interest and commitment with regards to developing the Danube region.
The Consultant for Cultural Affairs also advises and supports the cultural work of the various organisations founded by German expellees. Through the Consultant, these organisations can also apply for funding for cultural projects that deal with the culture and history of Germans in Eastern Central and Southeast Europe. The important questions in deciding which projects to support are: whether the topics discussed are current, whether the project will be carried out in a professional manner and whether the measures undertaken could prove to be sustainable. Aside from this, the project support criteria as set out by the Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media (within the sphere of broadening the reach of culture) have to be met. For further information on this in German, please click on the subheading “Projektförderung”.
The German Federal Government has set up six posts for Consultants for Cultural Affairs in museums in Greifswald, Lüneburg, Warendorf, Görlitz and Ulm, as well as at the Adalbert Stifter Association in Munich. Each of these posts deals with one or more regions where Germans lived alongside others until 1945 and where they still live to the present day. The target regions and locations are:
- Pomerania and East Brandenburg at the Pomeranian State Museum in Greifswald
- Silesia at the Silesian Museum in Görlitz
- East Prussia, the Baltic States, Russia and (to a lesser extent) the post-Soviet “Commonwealth of Independent States” at the East Prussian State Museum in Lüneburg
- West Prussia, the Province of Posen and Central Poland at the West Prussian State Museum in Münster
- Southeast Europe (the Banat, Bačka, Transdanubia, Transylvania, Satu Mare, Bratislava (and the surrounding area), Spiš and Hauerland) at the Danube Swabian Museum in Ulm
- Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia at the Adalbert Stifter Association in Munich
The consultants operate in the field of cultural education and mediation and each is allocated a budget for their work. Their task is to reach out and spread information about the culture and history of Germans in Eastern Europe and to seek to make a broad impact with their work, both in and outside of Germany.