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Save the date: Remembrance Day, 19 November 2017 German and Russian pupils commemorate with Federal President Steinmeier in the Bundestag / Pupils from Kassel and Novy Urengoy recite texts in front of politicians to commemorate victims of war and tyranny / Wintershall promotes intercultural student exchange

Berlin. The central memorial event marking Germany's Remembrance Day, which is held each year to commemorate the victims of war and tyranny, will take place on Sunday, 19 November 2017, in the German Bundestag in Berlin. This year's event, held under the patronage of the President of the Bundestag, is focussing on German-Russian relations. During the traditional reading, school pupils from Friedrich Secondary School in Kassel and Novy Urengoy in Western Siberia will recite the biographies of fallen soldiers whom they learned about as part of a project conducted together with the German War Graves Commission.

Light and shadow of the German-Russian relations

In the history of the relations between Berlin and Moscow, close partnership has alternated with open enmity – sometimes in the shortest periods of time. “Light and shadow are closely entwined in the German-Russian relations. The Memorial Day traditionally focuses on the dark chapters of history. This year, however, which marks the 25th anniversary of the German-Russian War Graves Agreement, we also want to raise awareness about the positive cooperation with Russia in regard to war graves welfare,” says Wolfgang Schneiderhan, President of the German War Graves Commission.

Learning from the past to shape the future

The project with the German War Graves Commission and the exchange with one another have left a lasting impression on the school pupils. Irina Kokorina from Novy Urengoy Secondary School is deeply moved by the work on the German soldiers: “Their fate is very similar to the fate of my great-grandfather.” Jonas Vaupel is conscious of the catastrophic extent of the Second World War: “The war robbed millions of people of their lives, hopes, aspirations and homeland. It also erased their past, their previous lives. Nothing was the way it used to be.” Valeria Ageyeva, also from the Siberian town in the Arctic Circle, summarises their findings from the project: “The horrors of war must not be forgotten and it is up to us to learn from the mistakes of the past to enable a future without war.”

Taking responsibility

The regular exchange between pupils from Kassel's Friedrich Secondary School and the secondary school in Novy Urengoy has been sponsored by Wintershall for nine years. The CEO of Wintershall, Mario Mehren, believes that the joint appearance by the school pupils sets an important signal: “In particular, the Second World War significantly shapes the culture of remembrance in both countries. Here there is a special responsibility for us as Germans and Europeans. For Wintershall this also includes exchanges in order to promote mutual understanding. I believe that the commitment of the school pupils from Kassel and Novy Urengoy shows how the lessons of the past can be dealt with in a responsible way.” 

The central event of the German War Graves Commission has been held annually in the Bundestag since 1950. More than 1000 guests have been invited to the event. Among them are high-ranking politicians and delegations, including from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Wintershall Holding GmbH, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the extraction of natural resources for 120 years, and in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for over 80 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, Russia, North Africa, South America, and increasingly the Middle East region. The company wants to expand its business further with exploration and production, selected partnerships, innovation and technological competence. Wintershall employs about 2.000 staff worldwide from 50 nations and is now Germany’s largest, internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer.

Wintershall. Shaping the future.

Contact: Anna Bungarten