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History of the Hertie Foundation: Confronting it - yes, Transparency - no



The Hertie Foundation has been criticized for its lack of transparency regarding the source of its funding and its refusal to openly examine its Nazi history. A new article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung now highlights the Foundation’s reaction to these criticisms. Following public scrutiny linking the Hertie Foundation to the “Aryanization” of the Hermann Tietz Company (later Hertie) and the Antisemitic expropriation of the Tietz Family, the Foundation claimed it would review its assets and had long been aware of and confronted its history. The Foundation also announced its intention to commission an independent study this year. Many critics remain skeptical however.

The Her.Tietz Initiative, founded by Hertie School Alumnus and Senior Fellow Alexander Busold and his team, has been instrumental in raising awareness about the Foundation’s historical legacy and pushing for a transparent and public examination of its Nazi-past. With a new petition, the Initiative is now calling for the commissioning of an independent study on Hertie’s Nazi past.

Given his role in confronting the Nazi history of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office several years ago, Dr. Klaus Scharioth, former Ambassador of Germany to the United States and Board Member of Humanity in Action in Germany, was also quoted in the SZ article. He notes the importance of tasking not just one person but a whole commission with examining Nazi-era involvements, something that the Her.Tietz Initiative is also calling for in their petition. The Initiative is offering clear guidelines for confronting Hertie’s Nazi past with the highest scientific standards.

  • To read more about the Hertie Foundation’s reaction to the public scrutiny and the requests of the Her.Tietz Initiative, read the full Süddeutsche Zeitung article here (in German).
  • To read the Hertie Foundation’s press release on a study, click here (in German).
  • You can find the original story about the history of Hertie and the efforts of the Her.Tietz Initiative here (in German).
  • To read more about the Initiative, here is an article in English from the Financial Times (by subscription only).
  • The Her.Tietz Initiative organized the webinar 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.