Lecture evening: Empathy, guilt and forgiveness after the Second World War

With lectures by theologian and Probst Thomas Besch and historian Prof. Dr. Arnd Bauerkämper, the public lecture series "Open BTU" will kick off an exciting summer semester full of controversial topics on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, at 5:30 pm.

All interested parties are invited to the kick-off event in the Audimax1 on the Cottbus main campus of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU), admission is free.

1st lecture:
The power of forgiveness
Thomas Besch, graduate theologian, Probst, Catholic Provost's Office Cottbus

It is about dealing appropriately with our guilt. Guilt demands forgiveness. Forgiving does not mean excusing, saying: "You are not to blame!". Forgiving does not mean trivializing, saying: "It's not that bad!". Forgiving does not mean forgetting, saying: "Forget it!". To say: "I forgive you!" means: "Despite your guilt, I accept you!".

2nd lecture:
Empathy and knowledge. Memories of National Socialism and the Second World War in Europe
Prof. Dr. Arnd Bauerkämper, Freie Universität Berlin, Chair of Modern History

Memories of National Socialism, fascism, the Second World War and the Holocaust have consistently served to construct meaning and create meaning in Europe after 1945. They were shaped by past experiences as well as by the orientation needs of the present and expectations for the future. The governments' politics of remembrance in particular were intended to lend meaning to history retrospectively. However, memories have remained controversial throughout, both within the states and between them, and until 1990 also between the power blocs during the Cold War. Moreover, memories within families, small groups and oppositional circles have consistently differed from the official politics of memory. In order to recognize the emotions and identities that are often associated with the conflicts, but also to reflect on them critically, empathy is necessary, both in the individual societies and across borders in Europe. However, as the lecture also argues, empathy requires a precise knowledge of how the respective neighbors deal with their history. A common culture of remembrance among Europeans is therefore neither possible nor desirable; however, an understanding of the common and separate recent past can certainly be achieved.

Moderation: Nicole Nocon, generationE e.V.

The lectures are organized in cooperation with the Akademieforum Cottbus e.V.. The association's program can be viewed at www.kath-cottbus.de.
The event is kindly supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 17:30 to 19:00
Location: Audimax 1 at the main campus of the BTU, Konrad-Wachsmann-Allee 3, 03046 Cottbus

Attention! The next lecture in the "Open BTU" series will take placeon Wednesday, April 17, at 5:30 pm at this location. Topic: "The Himmler brothers. A German family history or: Why did my grandparents become National Socialists?" Thespeaker will be political scientist and author Katrin Himmler, grandniece of Heinrich Himmler.

About the "Open BTU" lecture series
From April 10, 2024 to June 12, 2024, the public lecture series "Open BTU"offers interesting insights into exciting scientific fields. In the summer semester, the following topics will be examined from different perspectives:

  • Empathy, guilt and forgiveness after the 2nd World War
  • Sorbian/Wendish culture in the current transformation process
  • The effects of populism on the economy and social groups
  • Trees in transition - challenges and opportunities (as part of the 32nd Cottbus Environment Week)
  • 75 years of the Basic Law - crisis-proof or in need of renewal
  • Battery research for the energy transition - prospects for innovative battery recycling

With this educational format, which is open to all interested parties, the university's Centre for Continuing Education supports lifelong learning and funds the transfer of knowledge and ideas in the region by addressing socially relevant issues. The BTU cooperates with other universities and institutions. Each lecture will be followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion with the speakers. Anyone interested is cordially invited to take part in the wide range of events on offer.

More about the "Open BTU" lecture series:

Specialist contact

Thomas Hasenauer
Centre for Continuing Education (ZWW)
T +49 (0) 355 69-3680

Press contact

Ralf-Peter Witzmann
Communication and Marketing
T +49 (0) 3573 85-283

Probst Thomas Besch. Photo: private
Prof. Dr. Arnd Bauerkämper. Photo: Bernd Wannenmacher