The NS ERa
On January 26, 2015, Dr. Klaus Engel visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. The museum documents the exploitation and annihilation of the Jews by the National Socialists during the Third Reich. Dr. Engel laid a wreath in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust.
“We bow with humility and feelings of guilt here at this Memorial for the victims of the Holocaust and we ask for forgiveness and reconciliation from those still alive, as well as from the descendants of those who suffered,” the then CEO of Evonik wrote in the Memorial’s visitors book. Dr. Engel also said that the values of Germany’s political system must be defended at all costs against those who would stoke the flames of xenophobia, intolerance, and violence.
Learn from the past, take control of the present
Since our predecessor companies collaborated with the Nazi regime and were party to its crimes, Evonik is acutely aware of its social responsibilities. To meet these responsibilities, Evonik has developed a multifaceted program, which takes its cue from the key principle, “learn from the past in order to take control of the present.”
Visiting the Auschwitz memorial site
In partnership with the Borussia Dortmund soccer club, Evonik organizes trips to Auschwitz for its employees that last several days. The tour groups are accompanied by a historian and the head of the Group’s Corporate Archives, who help the participants understand holocaust history, come to terms with the roles played by Evonik’s predecessor companies and reflect on how business, sport and all of us as individuals can take a stand against antisemitism, racism and discrimination.
Partnership with the Jewish Museum in Berlin and Frankfurt
Evonik sponsors the “intonations” Chamber Music Festival, which is a guest performance by the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival at the Jewish Museum Berlin. In association with the museum, Evonik offers seminars in which its executives address corporate social responsibility past and present.
The company is also lending a hand in the expansion of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt. With help from the museum and Fritz Bauer Institute’s educational services, Evonik stages MUTAusbruch (Take courage) days for its trainees. During these events, those just starting out in their careers grapple with the history of Evonik’s predecessor companies under the Nazis as well as with antisemitism and discrimination today.
Partnership with the chair of holocaust studies in Frankfurt
Evonik supports the first and only academic chair in Germany dedicated exclusively to researching the holocaust by helping to fund the students’ annual tour of memorial sites. Furthermore, Evonik invites the students to visit its Corporate Archives in Hanau so that they can familiarize themselves with documents from the Nazi era and discuss the company’s history during that period.
Culture of remembrance: films, exhibitions, lecture series
Evonik is committed to ensuring that the Nazis’ crimes and their victims never fade from the public’s memory. To this end, our company is sponsoring a film about the last of the Auschwitz survivors who performed forced labor in a Degussa plant, an exhibition about I.G. Farben and the Buna-Monowitz concentration camp as well as a lecture series on important art historians whose Jewish ancestry meant that they had to flee Germany in the thirties.