Young people from Erlangen and Jena in conversation with the Lord Mayor

30.06.2022

Dor 35 years now, the twinning of Erlangen and Jena has provided an opportunity to preserve German unity and the associated experiences of upheaval and transformation for future generations through ongoing exchange.

To this end, 26 young people from Erlangen and 16 young people from Jena discussed on Thursday, June 30, 2022 in the auditorium of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. The discussion took place within the framework of the Research Network Dictatorship Experience and Transformation and as a cooperation of the European Youth Education and Youth Meeting Center Weimar (EJBW) with the Ettersberg Foundation.

Jena's mayor Thomas Nitzsche answered questions from the young people. How was Jena able to develop so successfully after the fall of communism? What role can town twinning play for young people? But the young people were also interested in the mayor's opinion on current topics such as overcoming the climate crisis in cities or mobility.

Thomas Nitzsche said:

"German-German town twinning can also have this value of exchanging ideas and learning from each other today and in the future for young people who themselves no longer have active memories of the Wende era. Town twinning can then take on a new focus - less looking backwards and more looking at current issues. Youth encounters like this are the right format to pass the baton to the younger generation."

In the Future Center for European Transformation and German Unity, for which the city of Jena is currently applying, encounter formats such as these will also help to relate experiences of upheaval to each other and to learn from each other together.

The youth encounter took place as a one-time project and includese Visits to the other city as well as Nuremberg and Weimar. The aim was to illustration of historical-political aspects like the dgerman division, the reunification and the Unitysprocessfundamental questions of democratic education such as dictatorship and transformationn and aspects of the present and immediate future such as the challenges posed by structural change and social and political caesura.The students conducted interviews with contemporary witnesses, visited educational institutions and took a critical look at the state of German unity.