What topics are you interested in?

© David Ausserhofer
“I came back to reach out to you”

In the fully sold-out Deutsches Theater in Berlin, Georg Mascolo spoke with Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer and former German President Joachim Gauck about Germany’s past, present and future. The conversation was supplemented with passages from Margot Friedländer’s autobiography “Try to Make Your Life”.

In his opening remarks, Manuel Hartung, CEO and chairmand of the board at the ZEIT STIFTUNG BUCERIUS, summarized the intention of the evening as follows: “The evening’s message – never forget – is one we will carry out of this hall and bring to the classroom, to the kitchen table, to the workplace and to the university.”


Witnessing the now 102-year-old Margot Friedländer in person was an unforgettable experience for all in attendance. Only after 56 initial years of exile in America did the slight woman first return to Germany, but it was a trip that brought her joy at having been born in a city as beautiful as Berlin. Seven years later, at the age of 88, she decided to return to Berlin for good – a move she has not once regretted. Her message is clear: be human and talk to one another.

Journalist and author Georg Mascolo, who hosted the evening, asked former German President Joachim Gauck why people are taking to the streets right now. His answer: “When democracy and freedom are at stake, people ask themselves: Who are we actually? Who do we want to be? And they realize that we have to stand up for our values. Individuals are capable of anything – of good and of bad. But we always have a choice. This is something we can learn from surviving witnesses.”

Anja Schneider, an ensemble member from the Deutsches Theater, read three passages selected by Margot Friedländer from her autobiography and brought them to life on stage: portraying the day when Margot Friedländer’s little brother was taken from the apartment by the Gestapo, her life underground, wordless farewells, endurance, her time in Theresienstadt and her arrival in New York.

Despite everything, Margot Friedländer chose to return to Germany, where she dedicated herself to teaching students about the events of the Nazi era. “I have been to many German schools, large and small, and I have received countless thanks from young people for reaching out to them and for approaching them as a friend. I want you to be human and to respect people.”

The event was organized by the ZEIT STIFTUNG BUCERIUS as part of the “Berliner Freiheitsdialog” (Berlin Dialogue on Freedom), a forum that sees important voices express their views on pressing issues of our time.

The evening was curated by Christoph Gottschalk in cooperation with the Deutsches Theater.

Results 111 of 22.