German Heritage Diplomacy or How to Boost International Standing
In the last decade, Germany has increased its participation and investment in various cultural heritage preservation projects across the worldJuly 20th, 2016
The preservation of cultural heritage plays an increasingly important role in national identity and culture, as a source of historical knowledge and a key factor in tourism and business development. Since 1981, Germany has been supporting the preservation of cultural heritage across the globe as part of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office.
With this initiative, the Federal Foreign Office aims to promote inter-cultural dialogue and the exchange of knowledge in a spirit of trust and partnership. By contributing to the restoration of historical monuments and artefacts – both secular and sacred, Germany aims to help nations strengthen their own sense of national identity. Approximately 63 million euros have been donated to over 2650 projects in 144 countries.
Through its activity, Germany also aims to foster dialogue between itself and its partner countries, such as India, Brazil or Afghanistan. In this way, cultural heritage preservation provides a mechanism for bilateral relations, in which German and foreign cultural values and/or expertise are made to encounter, collaborate and exchange.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier states that ‘’helping people to protect, preserve and sometimes re-evaluate their identity’’ is essential to foster a tolerant and open dialogue between cultures. By contributing to the development of local economies through tourism and professional training for aspiring curators, artisans and other heritage-related professions, Germany aims to present itself as an attractive and reliable business partner worldwide.
The Cultural Preservation Programme involves a wide range of actors, including but not limited to: the German Commission for UNESCO, Goethe-Institute, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (IFA) and the German Archaeological Institute.
Notable restorations funded by the initiative include: the Emir’s Pavilion (Kuti E Baghtsha) in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Mughal mausoleum Chaunsath Khambha in India and São Paolo’s Beth-El synagogue, Brazil. These restorations provide an impetus for a strong symbiosis between Germany and these countries and the revitalization of their vibrant histories.