© Karsten Thielker

Germany in conversation: How do we want to live together?

Dialogue with and among citizens is at the heart of the Federal Government’s anniversary year activities. The “Germany in conversation” initiative has given twin towns within Germany the opportunity to come together and engage in open and critical exchange about the process of German reunification. Matthias Platzeck, the Chair of the Commission on the 30th Anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and German Reunification, describes the fundamental idea of these meeting and dialogue events as follows: “Thirty years into German reunification, we still need to work on drawing East and West closer together. We want to renew people’s interest in one another and, by doing so, reduce prejudices.”

At a dialogue event in Rostock, a participant speaks with the person sitting next to him. In the background, participants are sitting at round tables holding discussions.

In moderated workshops, participants in “Germany in conversation” were able to share and discuss their thoughts on the crucial question “How do we want to live together?”. They talked about their experiences in the past 30 years, as well as the successes and challenges of the reunification process. They also discussed their ideas for greater social cohesion and for creating equivalent living conditions in all parts of Germany. The outcomes of these conversations, which were guided and evaluated by academic experts, will be incorporated into recommendations for political action that will be presented to the Federal Government at the end of 2020.

Along with the moderated discussions, the events also featured shared meals and a varied programme of cultural offerings, giving plenty of opportunities for conversation.

School pupils from the twin towns took part in all the events. They attended the dialogues and produced reports on them. As part of a media workshop, they conducted interviews on a topic of their choice at the event location with living witnesses to past events, dialogue participants and passers-by. They examined the topics of the peaceful revolution and German unity, adding their own perspective as young people.

A total of 16 events were planned; six of them were held between November 2019 and March 2020. Due to the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the related restrictions on public life, the remaining dates were cancelled.

Two men and a woman are engrossed in a conversation during a dialogue event in Heilbronn.
Jan Josef Liefers, a member of the Commission on the 30th Anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and German Reunification, participates in dialogues on the question “How do we want to live together?”
During the moderated workshop, participants select the topics that they consider most important.