By Amy Nicholas
This week in die Zeit, Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier has contributed a piece warning that in Germany ‚Freiheit und Demokratie stehen unter Druck‘. Steinmeier begins his article by stressing that authoritarian political systems are acting “immer selbstbewusster” (with increasing confidence) on the world stage. In reaction to this, the Bundespräsident urges Germany to look for role models in their history to provide encouragement, inspiration and guidance in these uncertain times.
Take the German flag: he contends that black-red-gold is not the figurehead of a narrow-minded nationalism, but in fact a symbol of freedom and democracy. For example, freedom fighters during the Hambach Festival of 1832 are supposed to have courageously worn these colours – often on pain of death - and millions of liberal, Christian and social democrats organized themselves for the Weimar Republic and against National Socialism in the "Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold".
Steinmeier concludes that although Democracy in Germany certainly cannot be seen as a straightforward success story, there are still a great deal of positive achievements that can be learnt from and built upon.