The new internet portal was opened January 17, by the government's Commissioner for Repatriation Issues and National Minorities in Germany, Christoph Bergner. Bergner is also the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State in the Interior Ministry, for the section that deals with German-speaking minorities abroad. The internet portal provides a self-portrayal forum for minorities from 24 nations, ranging from France, by way of Italy and Romania, all the way to Tajikistan. It provides precise information about the respective minorities and their autonomy rights and furnishes links to the most important German-language media and organizations. Wide-ranging information can be found on the "South Tyrolean People's Party" (Italy), the "German-Speaking Community" of Eastern Belgium, the Slovakian journal "Karpatenblatt," an "Association of the Social Organizations of Germans in the Republic of Kazakhstan - 'Rebirth'" and the "Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania." The list of Germandom organizations - factually neutral - includes also the "Alsace-Lorraine People's Alliance" from Northeastern France, a party accused of secessionist activities and "proximity (...) to the extreme rightist milieu."
Bergner, the Government's minority commissioner, explains that the internet portal has two primary objectives. On the one hand, it should take over the task of public relations, informing about the "commonality of the existence of minorities, their sizes, structures, associations and current events." Alongside this task, is that of a closer cross-linking between the German-speaking minorities and to always keep "one another up-to-date on the latest happenings, personal particulars, political demands and successes." The portal becomes, thereby, a political platform, for example exposing the German-speaking minorities in France and the Czech Republic to the wide-ranging autonomy enjoyed by the minorities in Belgium and Italy. In these countries there is open discussion about the German-speaking regions becoming attached to Germany or Austria respectively. The portal will also help the German-speaking minority in the Czech Republic or Poland to better inform themselves on how the Hungarian Germanic minority achieved indemnities, paid for post-WW II expropriations. (german-foreign-policy.com reported .)
The PR and inter-linking project is the idea of the German Interior Ministry, which is now financing its implementation. The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) is one of the organizations with a long tradition in the German ethnic "Volksgruppen" policy. Several German "Volksgruppen" experts, active since the 30s were instrumental in the FUEN's founding in 1954. Among them was Hans Schmidt-Oxbüll, a former member of the "National Socialist [Nazi] Working Group in Northern Schleswig" (NSAN, Denmark). Already in 1938 Schmidt-Oxbüll wanted to wage the "struggle for the Nazi idea" for "homeland" and "Germandom". He demanded, at FUEN's founding congress in 1954, that the "right to homeland be proclaimed". The FUEN, with its headquarters in Flensburg, in Northern Germany, is financed, to a large extent, by the German federal government, numerous German regional state governments, Eastern Belgium's German-speaking community and Italy's autonomous province of Southern Tyrol. Alongside the German state and German-speaking regional authorities abroad, the Hermann Niermann Foundation (Duesseldorf/North Rhine-Westphalia), dedicated to the promotion of German-speaking minorities is also among the financiers. This technically private organization is under the management of an Interior Ministry undersecretary, who is now retired.
Rich in Tradition
According to its own indications, the FUEN, a government-financed "Non-Governmental Organization," currently confederates 84 member associations from 32 nations. As a reservoir of European associations of minorities, it resembles the "European Nationalities Congress" from the period of the Weimar Republic. Founded in 1925 and cooperating occasionally very closely with the Foreign Ministry, this organization also confederated "Volksgruppen" from all over Europe - with the objective of having special ethnic rights imposed for ancestry-defined European minorities. The imperial government had a great interest in this because of the German-speaking minorities. Only a few months before the founding of the "European Nationalities Congress," Gustav Stresemann, German Foreign Minister, at the time, wrote: "It is evident, what importance for political, cultural and economic relations, the maintenance of these minorities and their pro-German disposition must have for the empire." Therefore the German-speaking minorities are, somewhat, "called upon (...), as fellow supporters of the policies of a foreign state, to have an influence on these policies, to the advantage of the German Empire." Even today the German-speaking minorities' economic advantages for business expansion is publicly discussed.
The FUEN has a special internal echelon, the "German Minorities Work Group," designed to insure the consolidation of influence over the internal affairs of the association. Established in 1991 in Budapest, at the initiative of the German Interior Ministry, it is convened annually. An expert from the Interior Ministry in Berlin is regularly present. Over the past few years this had been Ministerial Counselor Detlev Rein. Rein, through his dual role, is practically the chairman of the FUEN advisory committee. Rein was present with Commissioner Bergner, August 13, 2007 in Berlin, as several FUEN representatives reviewed the internet portal for German-speaking minorities that had been contracted by the Interior Ministry, and continued the discussion August 31 in consultations at FUEN headquarters in Flensburg and on October 26, at FUEN's annual "German Minorities Working Group" meeting. The planning and implementation was finally carried out in close collaboration with the new "German Minorities Working Group" chairman, Koloman Brenner.
Brenner comes from the German-speaking Hungarians and belongs to a relatively small, elitist group, with "Germandom" tradition: the network of the "Associations of German Student Unions" (VVDSt). This is a sort of student network, that already in the 1920s was promoting Germandom policies in universities outside Germany, e.g. in Poland, where they fought against the "Polandization" of the universities. For this, the VVDSt uses indigenous "Germandom" organizations, the "Association of German University Students" (VDH), that had been very closely linked to VVDSt structures at the time. Outlawed in 1939, the VDH resurfaced in Eastern Europe in 1999, first in Poland (Raciborz), then Romania (Timisoara) and in Hungary (Budapest) - and again in cooperation with the German VVDSt. FUEN militant, Koloman Brenner is a member of the VDH in Budapest, which, like the VVDSt, is pushing for Germandom at East European universities - just like its predecessor in the 1920s and 30s, that supplemented the pan-European activities of the "European Nationalities Congress" similar to the FUEN with direct support of Germandom in its East European centers. The old structures are reappearing in the new.
Please read also excerpts from Denkschrift von Gustav Stresemann (13 january 1925).