Tafel1: Cultural Preservation – A Program of the German Foreign Ministry
People sing, eat, build houses, paint, and pray – leaving traces of their culture. Maintaining these and reconstructing them when they’ve been destroyed by war or natural catastrophes has been the goal of the German Foreign Ministry’s Cultural Preservation Program for more than three decades.
O-Ton1 Friederike Fless – President of the German Archaeological Institute
“We wouldn’t be writing and doing maths if it hadn’t been for somebody in what is today Iraq, Mesopotamia, developing letters and numbers. We would also be living quite differently if people in this region hadn’t developed key techniques like arable farming and cattle rearing and understanding these things is of major significance.“
The German Archaeological Institute, or DAI for short, has been working with the German Foreign Ministry since 1874. Its special because of the strong international focus in its research, and cultural dialogue is a key part of its work. One of the DAI’s projects is the reconstruction of Syrian cultural heritage, evidence that cultural preservation is not just a practical or scientific discipline, it’s also a political challenge.
O-Ton2 Friederike Fless – President of the German Archaeological Institute
“How do we take on a monument, a building, how do you judge whether it’s in danger of collapse and so on? And it continues with specific training of refugees in neighbouring countries, giving them jobs, so that they hove some work, training them in certain skills which can be used in reconstruction.“
A digital register of cultural artefacts has been created for the Syrian Heritage Archive Project.
That’s an important start for the preservation of the incredibly rich cultural heritage of this country. Around the world, the program has supported projects in 144 countries since 1981, worth a total of 70 million euros. The money doesn’t just go to maintaining material objects – take the Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakesh.
O-Ton3 Thomas Ladenburger – Film Maker
“For the first time in 2001, UNESCO created an immaterial world cultural heritage site – because of
the protagonists - these performers - who pass on their knowledge on this square.“
For hundreds of years knowledge has been traded on this square – by story tellers, singers, artists
and magicians – surroundedrrr by people, known as Al Halqa in Arabic. This immaterial heritage can
now be experienced by everyone on the internet – in a virtual museum.
O-Ton4 Frank-Walter Steinmeier – German Foreign Minister
"Cultural heritage allows us to understand ourselves and each other better. And what’s just as
important is that it shows how we stand on ground that has been prepared by other cultures, and
that point is absolutely key.”
O-Ton5 Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer – German Foreign Ministry
“It’s about strengthening our identity as people. It’s also about not forcing our stance on other
people, but working together with relevant organisations, international organisations, like UNESCO,
and above all with people locally, with experts, with the population, and the goal is to include training
components, to create employment locally, and of course to improve the income situation – when you
look at it like this you realize that cultural heritage is very multifaceted.“
Tafeln: Morocco, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Syria