Taiwan Church News
August 15 - 21, 2016
The Past Is Never Simply The Past! - Mr Martin Eberts Shares How Transitional Justice Is Done In Germany
Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong
On August 13, Mr Martin Eberts, Director Of German Institute Taipei, was invited by PCT's General Assembly to share how transitional justice was done in Germany at Chi-nan Church of Chi-hsin Presbytery.
Mr Eberts pointed out, among such unprecedented job to proceed a transitional justice across the whole country, that the German government had confronted a very gigantic challenge as two kinds of transitional justice had to be solved in one battle: One was the investigation of the war crimes committed by the Nazi ; the other was to deal with the totalitarian evils done by East Germany communist regime.
"The past is never simply the past. It always has something to say to us; it tell us the paths to take and the paths not to take", quoting the speech of Pope Benedict XVI addressing at his 2006 visit to Auschwits-Berkenau concentration camp, Eberts reminded the audience that the first step to transitional justice is to open the government archives, reveal the truth and face the history honestly!
Eberts expressed, up to now, the tasks of transitional justice in truth finding, legislature of laws, legal revisions, compensation and care for victims have never been stopped in Germany. "Forget or beautify the mistakes of the past is not acceptable at any democratic country", emphasized Eberts.
After the collapse of East Germany communist regime, the secret files hidden in those police or intelligence unit were disclosed for every German citizen to check who were the informers and who were the victims, said Eberts.
The purpose of such a disclosure of the archives under Nazi or East German regime was not for revenge, but for the people's rights to know and for next generations to reflect further, he said.
Except investigating the crimes committed by the former officials of East German communist regime, an "innocence statement", pledging innocence or admitting wrong doings in East German regime, from personnel to serve in public service was also stipulated by current German government. "This act shows the officials would not be judged by a collective concept of crime in the future, but would be brought to trial or assessed by an individual standard", said Eberts.
The engineering of transitional justice in Germany is comprehensive, remarked Eberts, these tasks or responsibilities are not only limited to government, private institute or specific groups of people. Not even are such jobs constrained at a level of material compensations.
"Mutual care and understanding are as important as legal and material support", said Eberts, "If the whole society had such painful memory of the past and repentant culture, people would not be divided during the process of transitional justice!"
Only when the transitional justice could be solidly built up from the base of education and law, a culture of national memory from a holistic consciousness well established, every generation of this country are able to learn, recognize and face what had been happened in this country and the prayer of "the past is never simply the past" will ring true, concluded Eberts.
Translated by Peter Wolfe
Mr Martin Eberts, Director Of German Institute Taipei, was invited by PCT's General Assembly to share how transitional justice was done in Germany at Chi-nan Church of Chi-hsin Presbytery on August 13, 2016.
Photo by Umav