Leaders of a German government-funded foundation tasked with assessing the legacy of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) yesterday stressed the importance of dialogue, education and preservation of memories when dealing with a country’s authoritarian past, after the legislature last month passed the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例).
Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany chairman Rainer Eppelmann and foundation deputy director Robert Gruenbaum discussed their country’s experience of handling the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and its illegally obtained assets at a public forum in Taipei at the invitation of the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee.
The foundation was established in 1998 by the Bundestag to clarify historical truths and promote human rights education.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Eppelmann, who spent the first 46 years of his life living under East Germany’s authoritarian regime, said it is imperative to legally restore the reputation of political victims, but it is equally important to let them tell their stories and share their experiences.
“The purpose of doing so is to prevent people today and tomorrow from committing the same mistakes and to preserve the memories of what happened in the past,” Eppelmann said.
Dialogue with the perpetrators is a must, as most of them have been living with the fear that others will find out about who they once were and will do to them what they used to do to others.
That is why efforts should be made to let perpetrators know that people are not looking for retaliation, but rather seeking an explanation and a sincere apology, he said.
“People living in the same society must talk to each other and explain themselves. Otherwise, how could we live together?” he said.
At a time when more people than ever are born in democratic societies and take democracy for granted, it is all the more important to teach people about authoritarianism and the values of democracy, Eppelmann said.
Younger Germans do not have any any experience of the country’s auhoritarian past, so the government has attempted to teach them what people’s lives used to be like, Gruenbaum said.
“It is vital to incorporate history about East Germany into college education, because only when college students have a clear understanding of that part of history can they pass the knowledge onto the next generation,” Gruenbaum said.
The forum was overshadowed by members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) protesting against government efforts to recover the party’s illegitimately gained assets and remove past authoritarian symbols. Eppelmann was asked how such protests should be dealt with.
“Protests are normal, as long as they are not violent,” he said.
Eppelmann from Monday to yesterday led a three-member delegation to Taiwan, which met with officials from the assets committee, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Culture and the Mainland Affairs Council.
They also visited sites of cultural significance, including Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the National 228 Memorial Museum.
A domestically developed “suicide drone,” also known as a loitering munition, would be tested and evaluated in July, and could enter mass production next year, Taiwan’s weapons developer said on Wednesday. The yet-to-be-named drone was among nine drone models unveiled by the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on Tuesday. The drone has been dubbed the “Taiwanese switchblade” by Chinese-language media, due to its similarity to the US-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300, which has been used by Ukraine in counterattacks during Russia’s invasion. It has a range of more than 10km, a flight time of more than 15 minutes, and an electro-optical
GOOD INFLUENCE: Kwan said his mother tutored him at home for a few years, saying that she had to protect his ‘creativity’ as his writing had suffered Director and coproducer of the Oscar-winning absurdist comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All at Once Daniel Kwan (關家永) on Sunday dedicated the movie to his Taiwanese mother, who he said supported his creativity growing up. “She is someone who sacrificed a lot for her kids,” Kwan, 35, said backstage at the Oscars. The movie, released early last year, received a commanding 11 nominations at the Academy Awards, and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, with whom he also directed the 2016 fantasy film Swiss Army
HYGIENE KEY: The CDC reported two cases of enterovirus 71, which can cause serious complications, and as there have been no recent outbreaks, children are not immune Two cases of enterovirus 71 (EV71) were reported last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that it was a warning sign, as the virus has not been detected for more than a year. Parents are advised to remind their children to practice good hand hygiene, it said. Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉), director of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Center, said that 165,230 people visited a hospital for diarrhea last week, which is a high number. Most of the diarrhea case clusters were caused by norovirus infection, but there were also enterovirus cases, and weekly caseloads are slowly increasing, Guo said. Most of
A bipartisan US congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan yesterday on a two-day visit that is to include meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and other senior government officials, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The delegation comprises Republican US representatives and Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Ken Calvert, Tom Cole, Dave Joyce and Mike Garcia, as well as Democratic US Representative Ed Case, the ministry said in a news release. Upon their arrival at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), the five representatives were welcomed by North American Affairs Department Director-General Douglas Hsu (徐佑典), it said. During their visit, they are to meet