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German Cultural Figures Up in Arms over New Right-Wing Parliament Representative

More than twenty-five thousand people have signed an open letter protesting the appointment of Siegbert Droese as the new chairman of the German parliament’s Committee on Cultural and Media Affairs, Monopol reports. Droese is a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the country’s growing young far-right political party.

Published on September 26, the “Open Letter – For Freedom and Diversity in Art and Culture!” was sent to members of the Council of Elders of the German Bundestag and to the other main German political parties.

It reads: “The AfD, a right-wing radical party, [is] moving into the German Bundestag for the first time, unashamingly undermining the principles of our co-existence in this country. These new developments call for a clear attitude from all democrats in the Bundestag, beyond [any] coalition-tactical considerations. It cannot happen that in the struggle for spheres of influence, the AfD injects its nationalist poison into the debates within one of the most sensitive, most important places of our parliamentary system: German cultural policy. It is therefore imperative to prevent the AfD from chairing the Culture Committee.”

Signatories of the letter include actress Iris Berben; Amelie Deuflhard, artistic director of the Kampnagel performance space; author and journalist Tanja Dückers; Ronald Grätz, editor of Kulturaustausch (Culture Exchange) magazine; cellist and conductor Christian Höppner; author and filmmaker Alfred Holighaus; German dramaturg and director Ulrich Khuon; Eckart Köhne, director of the Badisches Landesmuseum; theater producer Shermin Langhoff; Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, president of the Goethe-Institut; Verena Metze-Mangold, president of the German commission for UNESCO; film director and screenwriter Jeanine Meerapfel; Thomas Oberender, director of the Berliner Festspiele; Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation; Bernd Scherer, director of Haus der Kulturen der Welt; cultural politician, cultural manager, and pianist Oliver Scheytt; Wolfgang Schneider, UNESCO chair of cultural policy for the arts in development; Klaus Staeck, former president of the Academy of Arts at Berlin; and Olaf Zimmermann, director of the German Cultural Council.

In response, Droese issued the following statement: “Our young party has specifically made the preservation and promotion of tradition, art, and culture a central task. The development of our culture as the sum of national and European values can provide cultural self-definition as well as give stability, purpose, and meaning to people of other cultures.”

AfD became the third largest political party after the Bundestag elections on September 24, when it secured 12.6 percent of the vote. The Bundestag committees are made up of deputies from the various parties, according to their political power within the government.