160 Years of Friendship between Uruguay and Germany
President Joachim Gauck is inaugurating on July 15th an exhibition commemorating the first diplomatic agreement between the two countriesJuly 14th, 2016
Taking the opportunity of his official visit to Uruguay from the 14th until the 16th of July, the German Head of State Joachim Gauck will inaugurate a historic exhibition in Montevideo named “Exchange and Innovation - 160 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Germany and Uruguay”. The exhibit wants to commemorate the long-standing friendship relations between both countries explaining their common history.
In the early nineteenth century, when Uruguay was a great depopulated fertile prairie fighting for its independence, the Germans were one of the first immigration waves to travel and settle in the northern side of Río de la Plata. The first German traders came mainly from the Hanseatic ports (Hamburg, Bremen) and they focused on import/export operations, given that Uruguay did not still have a domestic industrial production but enjoyed a surplus on primary goods.
This growing trade tendency made necessary for both countries to reach diplomatic agreements. And precisely on the 15th of July of this year, we celebrate the 160th anniversary of the first "Agreement of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Germany and Uruguay".
To commemorate it, the exhibition "Exchange and Innovation" reflects the different areas where immigrants and German companies contributed to the development of Uruguay, such as the industrial production promoted by entrepreneurs, the academic exchange that encouraged research and education, and the large-scale investments that allowed for technological development in many areas.
Twentieth century immigrants had also other reasons to migrate to Uruguay; the terror of Nazism forced many to leave their country and seek refuge abroad. Uruguay opened its arms to German Jews and opponents of Nazism – but also to religious groups such as the Mennonites, allured by the country’s long record of religious freedom. Uruguay received them all, regardless of religion, race or ideology.
The exhibition "Innovation Exchange" seeks to link academic “History" with the stories of people. Everyone has his own personal story – being it distressing, challenging, successful or disappointing. People moving to other countries not only enrich their own stories, but also create whole new pieces history in the countries they moved in.
Sadly, only some of these stories can be told, and only some paths and memories are exposed, but thanks to this exhibition we can come closer to their lives and learn for the future.