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Our History

The intellectual and historical touchstone for Humanity in Action Germany, founded in 1997, is the study of acts of resistance during the Second World War, the Holocaust and restoration of democracy in Germany.

Humanity in Action Germany was founded as a registered association in 2001 as the fourth partner organization within the international Humanity in Action network.

Why do some people resist incursions of authoritarian rule, injustice, and racism based on fear while others remain bystanders?

The intellectual and historical touchstone for Humanity in Action, founded in 1997, is the study of acts of resistance–and lack thereof–during the Second World War, the Holocaust and restoration of democracy in Germany and other European countries. This focus raises critical questions which relate to past and present: why do some people resist incursions of authoritarian rule, injustice, and racism based on fear while others remain bystanders; what connects those who recognize the need to resist; how are acts of resistance influenced by national and historical contexts; what is the best means of educating citizens to promote liberal democracy. We hosted our first Humanity in Action Fellowship program in Berlin in the summer of 2002 for university students from or based in Germany and the United States. Since its inception in 2002, the Berlin Fellowship has engaged over 300 Fellows from Germany and other Humanity in Action countries.

From the beginning of Humanity in Action’s work, it was understood that incorporating a German program was essential to achieve the organization’s ambitious purposes. As a Danish funder stated, the future of democracy in Europe would rest on developments in Germany.

Humanity in Action Germany has led international initiatives to include students from Central and Eastern European countries in the Humanity in Action Fellowship and to develop the Pat Cox-Humanity in Action Fellowship in the European Parliament.

What connects those who recognize the need to resist?

For years now, our office has run the Europe-based Annual International Conferences as well as numerous short-term educational initiatives, internship programs and grant competitions for our international Fellows and Senior Fellows. In addition, dozens of university students from or based in Germany have participated in Humanity in Action Fellowship programs in Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Sarajevo, and the United States.

And how are acts of resistance influenced by national and historical contexts?

Senior Fellows from Germany have also served in Humanity in Action’s internship programs in the US Congress, the European Parliament, and the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. German Senior Fellows are members of the legally incorporated German Board of Directors whose current chair and vice-chair are Humanity in Action Senior Fellows.

In close cooperation with the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (EVZ), we helped expand the Humanity in Action Fellowship to Warsaw in 2006. After a start-up phase of three years, Humanity in Action Poland was officially founded as an independent organization in 2009. Humanity in Action Germany is now home to the European coordination for Humanity in Action.