Ger­many to­day - Part II

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

Do we need a new pol­icy to com­bat trafficking in her­itage ob­jects? I would say def­i­nitely yes. The Arab world faces the threat of loss of iden­tity, in­clud­ing theft and de­struc­tion of mon­u­ments and mu­se­ums. So I be­lieve in­sti­tu­tions like the Ger­man Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute can help coun­tries fac­ing civil wars and con­flicts to pre­serve their her­itage by help­ing their ci­ti­zens do so. It is not only in­sti­tu­tional work, but hu­mane and im­por­tant too.

It is a great and noble in­tu­itive from the Ger­mans to sup­port de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to pre­serve their her­itage, and I see UNESCO tak­ing a big­ger part in this as a mat­ter of pride. It is im­per­a­tive to face the dan­gers of theft of an­tiq­ui­ties by train­ing se­cu­rity forces and au­thor­i­ties at all ports to firmly stop any such il­licit at­tempts, whether by in­di­vid­u­als or in­sti­tu­tions. This re­quires col­lec­tive ac­tion and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, like the war against ter­ror. This is a se­ri­ous is­sue that af­fects the his­tory of coun­tries. I be­lieve Ger­many has all the re­sources to sup­port such a global ac­tion in co­op­er­a­tion with UNESCO.

Our group paid an im­por­tant visit to the Ger­man Com­mis­sion for UNESCO. The UN agency’s head­quar­ters is in Paris, but ties be­tween UNESCO and Ger­many are old. A long time be­fore the Fed­eral Repub­lic of Ger­many was ad­mit­ted as a mem­ber of the United Na­tions in 1973, UNESCO opened the door to Ger­many’s re­turn to in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics at a mul­ti­lat­eral level. UNESCO in Ger­many to­day has sev­eral top­ics of in­ter­est within its field of work, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, science, cul­ture and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The pro­gram also fo­cused on Prus­sian cul­tural her­itage, which in­cludes na­tional mu­se­ums in Ber­lin. Ber­lin’s Mu­seum Is­land is a mag­nif­i­cent work of art - an out­stand­ing en­sem­ble of five world-renowned mu­se­ums. I ad­vise ev­ery­one to go and visit the is­land. The com­plex has been named a UNESCO World Her­itage Site. Af­ter my visit, I know why, and UNESCO is right. From the bust of Egyp­tian queen Ne­fer­titi, to the breath­tak­ing Perg­a­mon al­tar and the stun­ning Ishtar Gate, the mu­se­ums have it all.

Ger­many has a pol­icy to pro­tect its his­tory and cul­tural her­itage. In Ger­many, cul­tural sites are end­less and al­ways woo­ing the public. There are calls for pro­mot­ing pri­vate ini­tia­tives like the Ger­man Her­itage Foun­da­tion, which seeks to cre­ate aware­ness among the so­ci­ety’s mem­bers. An­other ex­am­ple is the Zol­lverein Coal Mine In­dus­trial Com­plex in Essen. It is a place not to miss. It was the world’s largest and most mod­ern coalmin­ing fa­cil­ity and a lead­ing ex­am­ple of the de­vel­op­ment of heavy in­dus­try in Europe. To­day, with its Bauhaus-in­flu­enced de­sign, the mine is a tri­umph of mod­ern in­dus­trial ar­chi­tec­ture and a cen­ter of art and cul­ture.

Cologne Cathe­dral is a breath­tak­ing site re­stored by ex­perts. The place was packed with peo­ple from around the world and is sur­rounded with touris­tic shops. The Au­gus­tus­burg and Falken­lust palaces form a his­tor­i­cal build­ing com­plex in Bruhl, North Rhine, and are amaz­ing. The palaces were built at the be­gin­ning of the 18th cen­tury and are listed as UNESCO world her­itage sites since 1984. They are proof that “any­thing made by man bears the mark of his time and place and once lost, it is gone for­ever”.

The par­tic­i­pants of the pro­gram were all highly ex­pe­ri­enced, con­tribut­ing to the en­rich­ment of di­a­logue and di­ver­sity, whether ge­o­graph­i­cal or cul­tural, which con­trib­uted to iden­ti­fy­ing other cul­tures and not only of the host coun­try. Ger­many is a coun­try that has sur­vived wars, but does not want to for­get its his­tory. Ger­many to­day is strong be­cause it knows how to pre­serve its iden­tity.

By Muna Al-Fuzai muna@kuwait­times.net

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