The Friends of Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum, a registered charity, was established on the 2nd November 1998 by numerous prominent figures from the worlds of academia, politics and culture, from Germany and abroad. Its founding chairman was Dr. h. c. Klaus Schütz, a former Mayor of Berlin, who died on the 29th November 2012 at the age of 86.
He was succeeded as chairman by Dr. Hans Otto Bräutigam, former justice minister of Brandenburg, who held the post until March 2015. At the annual general meeting on 21st March 2015, the Friend's association's members elected the highly respected historian Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kocka as the new chairman of the executive committee. The current members of the committee are: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kocka (Berlin), Alice Ströver (Freie Volksbühne Berlin), Dieter Starke (Oranienburg), Rainer E. Klemke (Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Günter Morsch (Brandenburg Memorials Foundation).
The Members' Meeting of the Society of the Friends of Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum elected Dr. jur. Hans Otto Bräutigam to the position of Chairman on the 2nd March 2013.
Hans Otto Bräutigam was born in Völklingen, Saar in 1931. He spent his childhood first in Wetzlar an der Lahn and then, after the war, in the Sauerland region of North Rhine-Westphalia. After finishing grammar school in Meschede in 1950, he studied Law and Politics at the universities of Munich and Bonn, followed by the Sorbonne in Paris and Harvard Law School in the U.S.A.
In 1962, he entered the foreign service and worked for a while in the Federal Chancellery. From 1982 to 1988, he was in charge of the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the GDR in East Berlin. Following this, he served for a short time as Germany's ambassador to the United Nations in New York. In November 1990, after the unification of the two Germanies, Minister President Dr. Manfred Stolpe appointed him as Minister of Justice and Federal and European Affairs of the federal state of Brandenburg. Bräutigam held this office until 1999.
From 2000 to 2006 (apart from a break of one year) he sat on the Board of the "Remembrance Responsibility Future" Foundation, ultimately as its Chairman. This public law foundation was given the responsibility, under an act of parliament, for making compensation payments available to people who had been exploited as slave labour during the Second World War, and to other individuals who had suffered from National Socialist injustice. During that period, 4.2 billion euros were paid out to 1.6 million recipients, many of them in Eastern Europe and Israel.
After his election as the Chairman of the Friends, Bräutigam stated his commitment to strengthening awareness among people -- especially the young -- from Germany and from other countries of the oppressive history of Sachsenhausen concentration camp during the National Socialist dictatorship. Like his predecessor, Klaus Schütz, he expressed his conviction that Sachsenhausen Memorial is an important centre of influence in favour of a democratic, tolerant and consciously responsible society.
Hans Otto Bräutigam lives in Berlin. He is married and has two children.
The Society of the Friends of Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum e. V., mourns the loss of its founding chairman, Dr. h. c. Klaus Schütz, who died at home after a short, serious illness, on the 29th November 2012. He was 86 years old. "Ever since its foundation in 1998, Klaus Schütz was the heart and soul of our society. It is due above all to his work that the Friends has managed to attract so many new members from home and abroad, thus giving it a strong voice in support of the Memorial's interests. In him we lose a great friend and supporter,” said the Foundation's Director, Prof. Dr. Günter Morsch, who also sits on the Executive Committee of the society, in Oranienburg today.
"Remembrance should be no mere governmental affair, but must be a task of civil society if it is to be filled with life," was how Schütz formulated his credo on the tenth anniversary of the Friends in 2008. With this in mind, the society supported the Memorial during the more than fourteen years of his chairmanship not only in countless events, exhibit purchases, and the acquisition of third-party funding, but again and again through political intervention, for instance in getting progress with the (now complete) landscaping of open spaces in the former prisoner camp. Last but not least, as a former Mayor of Berlin (1967-1977) Schütz felt a special connection with the remembrance of the former 'Concentration Camp at the Imperial Capital'. During his political career, he was the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1966-67) and Ambassador to Israel (1977-1981).
Walter Jens, born in Hamburg on the 8th March 1923, studied German language and literature, and classical philology, receiving his doctorate in Freiburg i. Br. in 1943 and his professorial qualification (Habilitation) in Tübingen in 1949. In 1956, he was appointed Extraordinary Professor of Classical Philology at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. There he held the Chair of General Rhetoric, which was created specially for him, from 1963 to 1988. In the 1980s, he became involved in the peace movement, protesting against the NATO double-track decision and the deployment of Pershing II missiles in West Germany. From 1989 to 1997, Jens served as President of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, after which he was appointed its Honorary President.
Jens was also successful in the literary field. In 1950, he joined Group 47 and in the same year he tasted success for the first time, with his book No. The World of the Accused, in which he dealt with his experiences of Nazism and Stalinism. During the years until 2001, this was followed by numerous works of fiction and non-fiction. Moreover, Jens made a name for himself as a television critic for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, under the pseudonym 'Momos'.
The Friends of Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum e. V. would like to express their heartfelt condolences to Dr. Inge Jens and her family.