The AFD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation can educate students after the election – with tax money. Although the educational institutions have warned about this, the alliance is keeping a low profile.
BERLIN – Imagine that the state provides financial support to right-wing and right-wing extremist students and helps strengthen their ideas and networks by sponsoring seminars and workshops. This could become a reality if the AFD returns to the Bundestag in September, as expected. The party is then considered a fundamental political trend that is permanently important, and the party-affiliated Desiderius-Erasmus-Foundation (DES) could receive millions of dollars in federal funding – as does the existing party-affiliated foundation.
In the “Our Mission” section on its website, the DES Foundation lists “scientific education and training of talented young people as well as the promotion of science and research” as a focus of its work. So perhaps DES will set up a funding agency for student and doctoral candidates after the election.
AfD-affiliated Foundation: Right-wing intellectual elite can better network
This is exactly the concern expressed by Evangeliches Studinwork Viligust – one of the 13 existing state-funded organizations for promoting talented students in Germany – in a position paper in 2020. It says: With its own talented work backed by the federal government, the AfD can “promote the development of an intellectual elite” that “at least in part does not see itself as committed to the central values of fundamental law”. “The constructive and sincere cooperation of all political, ideological and religiously competent organizations” threatens to “permanently upset”.
“We’ve only received positive feedback on position papers from other organizations to promote talented students,” said Friederike Faß, director of Evangelisches Studienwerk. In a statement on “Common Value Basis”, Plants agreed that they all want to stand, for example, “against nationalist thinking” and “for respectful cooperation”.
Evangelisches Studienwerk concludes that no one can co-operate with the foundations that “fundamentally oppose” their values. Referring to the organization’s Christian Mission statement, Fass said, “Anyone who blames a certain group for low values or human dignity does not agree with us.” This is different for individuals: “People will also apply for scholarships who only need money for their education and who will then be politically colored there.” One wants to “keep in touch” with these people. *
Other foundations do not want to work with AFD-related foundations
If you ask around, this attitude seems to be unanimous among the funding agencies. The Henrik Bowl Foundation, which is close to Greens, wrote at FR’s request: “The political foundations are committed to the consciousness, principles and practice of a free democratic fundamental system – in this case we see no possibility. Cooperation with the Erasmus Foundation, which is close to AfD. ” The Conrad-Adenauer-Foundation, which is close to the CDU, uttered almost the same words – “there is no basis” for collaboration. The German National Academic Foundation says: You only work with organizations that match your own values.
Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (DES) was founded in 2017 and was recognized by AfD in 2018 as a party-affiliated foundation. Chair Erica Steinbach, name Erasmus von Rotterdam. The scholar “saw errors in his presence and tried to remedy them,” DES explains their names.
13 organizations for talent promotion Receive money from the federal government in Germany. They support students and doctoral candidates financially and morally. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research writes, “Different ideological, religious, political, economic or union-based currents in Germany illustrate this work.” Fab
Problem: On paper, DES presents itself as an organization with both feet on the ground of fundamental law. The foundation says it wants to stand up for “international understanding” and “tolerance.” However, DES did not respond to a request from Frankfurter Rundschau about the talents’ own promotion plans.
Many questions are open. Also whether state-funded works may exclude collaboration with other financed works. In the case of Muslim Avicenna and the Jewish Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich-Studenwerk (Aless), a coercive collaboration would be particularly subtle. Ellis managing director Joe Frank gave an example: “We’ve never had one !? Together against anti-Semitism and for plural society. It is funded as an offer for all job scholarship holders. Of course, we will end this kind of program as soon as we are forced to work with DES. ” This is necessary for security reasons.
AFD-affiliated Foundation: Sensitive information should not reach right-wing circles
Hakan Tosuna, managing director of Muslim Avicenna StudioNews, made a similar statement: “We need to make sure that no personal information from our scholarship holders or committee members goes into right-wing circles.” What if certain people have personal information? Students are publicly released in the early hours of February. Following a digital meeting with Avicenna Scholarship holders, CDU politician Norbert Rotzen posted a screenshot of the meeting. But the picture shows not only the 25 Muslims with whom Rotgen exchanged views on environmental policy, the CDU after the Merkel era, and others – but also their names. “Comments keep coming, a lot of hate. Some of these are divided into right-wing groups. It was a fire, “said a Deutsche Welle participant
Tosuner Avicenna talks about the project “Participation”, where scholarship holders from 13 plants volunteer to help people with refugee experience: “It’s hard to imagine that DES scholarship holders would be involved in such a project,” he said.
Maron Mendel, director of the Anne Frank Education Center in Frankfurt, estimates that DES, like other party-affiliated foundations, will affect learning content. And he warns against it: “If students are persuaded by historically revisionist positions, then suddenly we have not one, but hundreds of Björn Hockes who help normalize these positions in schools, universities and cultures.” The DES funding agency will be a “collective hiring pool” for various right-wing milieu, where individuals often lack young talent. Maron Mendel suspects that DES is structuring its funding agency on two tracks: “Civil and conservative issues are addressed at the forefront, while cadres are created in the background who can turn the weapons of democracy against themselves.” For Mendel, it would be a “mockery of democratic principles.”
Is it even possible to cut off funding for an AFD-affiliated foundation?
But is it possible to cut off state funding for AFD-related funding agencies once the party, legitimized by democratic elections, returns to the Bundestag? The Federal Ministry of Education and Research wrote in the request that it could only be “answered by the German Bundestag”. This is because the amount of grants that political foundations receive is not regulated by law, but as part of the budget formulation by Parliament.
When asked what the Bundestag could do, the ruling parties shut up. The CDU / CSU parliamentary group says the group does not usually comment on “fundamental issues”. But keep an eye on the matter. The SPD parliamentary group briefly said through its press office: “There is no urgent need for action at this time.” Reason: The “right to finance from the federal budget” does not yet exist for the AFD.
Requires “Foundation Law” and “Democracy TÜV”
Greens, however, made a clear claim: “We need a foundation law that regulates the work of political foundations in a binding and transparent manner,” said Britta Hasselman, their first parliamentary director. Vulcar Beck, a longtime member of the Greens in the Bundestag, has already made a proposal on behalf of the Anne Frank educational institution: he has proposed a kind of democracy TÜV for foundations that want to get tax money. (Fabian Schuerman)
* Note: Red: A sentence has been removed here.