Senior Fellow Alexander Busold founded the Her.Tietz Initiative. The Her.Tietz Initiative is committed to an open handling of the Nazi history of Hertie, an active commemoration of the victims of the Shoah, and to fighting Antisemitism today.
The motivation – “Missing Knowledge about Hertie´s Past in the School”
The members of the Her.Tietz Initiative are students as well as alumni of the Hertie School of Governance. Their graduate school is predominantly financed by the Hertie Foundation, one of Germany’s largest charitable foundations. The foundation’s wealth originates from the company “Hermann Tietz,” a warehouse chain founded by the Jewish Tietz family at the end of the 19th century, later renamed to “Hertie.” Most of the students, staff, and faculty of the Hertie School of Governances are not aware of the origin of the name Hertie and the Antisemitic expropriation of the Tietz family.
The goals – “Understanding the Past and Countering Antisemitism Today”
Most of the students, staff and faculty of the Hertie School of Governances are not aware of the origin of the name Hertie and the antisemitic expropriation of the Tietz family.
The goals of thre initiative are:
- to contribute to an active and open commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust, especially in times of growing right wing extremism and populism;
- to facilitate a better understanding of the history of the Tietz family as an example of Antisemitic societal attitudes, a lack of civil courage in the general population and the effects of antisemitic politics aimed at erasing Jewish life – which are perpetuated through the ongoing secrecy surrounding Hertie’s history during National Socialism;
- to strengthen resilience to todays growing Antisemitism and right-wing populism trough an active discussion of this topic within the Hertie School community and beyond.
The approach – “Research, Commemoration & Transparency”
Some scientific studies on the history of the Hermann Tietz department stores have already been conducted, but not all are public available. The Her.Tietz Initiativ advocates for the disclosure of these studies, and for further research on the history of the Tietz family.
“Aryanization” describes the Antisemitic expulsion of Jewish Germans from economic, scientific, and in general public life following the racist ideology of National Socialism.
The Initiative thinks it is important to make this topic permanently visible to all people entering the Hertie School building with a public information board and with additional information on the websites of the Hertie Foundation as well as on the website of the Hertie School.
In their opinion, communication of this topic should not stop with the installation of the information board. The Hertie community should be actively informed about the story of its name, e.g. though a series of events or an address during the orientation week of new students.
Read more about the initiative’s demands to the Hertie Foundation as well as the Hertie School of Governance here.
Watch their Video
Events and Activities of the Initiative
The initiative held their first Tietz Lecture as a webinar on October 9th, 2020. The topic of this lecture was “Addressing Antisemitism One Year After the Attack in Halle.” You can find out more about his event here, and you can rewatch the whole event here.
The initiative and its activities attracted a large media echo – in national and international media outlets:
- Shadow over old glory (Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 13th, 2020 – in German)
- Hertie Foundation looks into its dark past – after sustained pressure from former students (SWR2, December 29th, 2020 – in German)
- The Anxious Elite (Zeit Online, December 10th, 2020 – in German)
- I should have been more aware of the subject of Aryanization (Spiegel, December 2nd, 2020 – in German and by subscription only)
- It’s about keeping alive the memory of the Tietz family (Deutschlandfunk, November 30th, 2020 – in German)
- The economic talk: Processing the Aryanization Heritage of the Hertie-foundation (Deutschlandfunk, November 30th, 2020 – Radio feature in German)
- Hertie Foundation faces “Aryanization” history (Tagesspiegel, November 30th, 2020 – in German)
- Hertie Foundation Commissions Scientific Research into the History of Wealth (Hertie Foundation, November 27th, 2020 – in German)
- Hertie Foundation under criticism: A historical trademark (FAZ, November 26th, 2020 – in German)
- Hertie remembers too late (Taz, November 12th, 2020 – in German)
- “Aryanization” history catches up with Hertie-School (Tagesspiegel, November 9th, 2020 – in German and by subscription only)
- History of the Hertie Foundation: Confronting it – yes, Transparency – no (Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 25th, 2020 – in German)
- Hertie and the Nazi dictatorship: Was there something? (Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 16th, 2020 – in German)
- To read more about the Initiative, here is an article in English from the Financial Times (Financial Times, October 31st, 2020 – in English and by subscription only)