The Hertie Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in Germany, refuses to publicly address its Nazi past reports a new article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) today. The piece highlights the efforts of Senior Fellow Alexander Busold and his colleagues from the Her.Tietz Initiative, who are “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.” As students and alumni of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, which is being financed by the Hertie Foundation, the Initiative has been trying to raise awareness about the Foundation’s historical legacy and pushing for a transparent and public examination of its Nazi-past.
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 SZ article lays out the history of the famous German department store chain „Hermann Tietz“ (whose name was later changed to “Hertie”), which was founded by the Jewish merchant Oscar Tietz. In the 1930s, the Nazis “aryanized” the company and forced the Tietz family out of their business through various Antisemitic repressions. The assets of the charitable Hertie Foundation originate from the sale of the Hertie department store chain.
Raising awareness about this “Aryanization” of the Hermann Tietz Company (later Hertie) and the Antisemitic expropriation of the Tietz Family is the goal of Alexander Busold and his initiative, who finds the Hertie Foundation’s unwillingness to openly confront its Nazi-past “bizarre.” The SZ article quotes Busold saying that, students have been trying to convince the board of the Hertie Foundation to “deal openly and scientifically with their history, but we are being held up and turned away.”
Earlier this fall, Alexander Busold and his colleagues from the Her.Tietz Initiative organized a lecture on Addressing Antisemitism One Year After the Attack in Halle. Funding for this webinar came from Humanity in Action’s 2019 Grant Competition, Addressing Antisemitism in Germany, Poland, Ukraine, the United States and online, a project generously supported by the Foundation EVZ.
- To learn more about the history of Hertie and the efforts of the Her.Tietz Initiative, you can read the full Süddeutsche Zeitung article here (in German).
- More on the reaction of the Hertie Foundation can also be found here (in German).
- To read more about the Initiative, here is an article in English from the Financial Times (by subscription only).