Tribute to German publisher and human rights activist Helmut Donat on his 75th birthday

For Helmut Donat, such an “Armenian evening” was a way to help Armenia and its people to build their future. “And we can help even just by familiarizing ourselves with their great heritage of literature, music, poetry and culture, with the Armenian people…” Over the decades, Donat has contributed significantly to familiarizing Germans with this heritage, by organizing such cultural events. , such as the Armenian cultural weeks in Bremen, but above all by publishing books on the history, politics and cultural richness of Armenia. He has received numerous awards for his achievements. In April 1990, he was awarded the Villa Ichon Peace and Culture Prize in Bremen in recognition of his editorial achievements “which demonstrate a commitment to peace at a high cultural level”. In May 1996, he won the Carl von Ossietzky Prize for Contemporary History and Politics. By the spring of 2007, his publishing house had produced over 300 books on contemporary history, focusing on the peace movement, Nazism, the Armenian Genocide, pacifism and the history of militarism, particularly in Germany. Since then, the list of publications has steadily grown in quantity, quality and impact.

And, although he has reached an age at which many people withdraw into private life and tend to their gardens, it is to be hoped and expected that Helmut Donat will retain his energy and determination, to carry on to produce beautiful, meaningful books.

Genocide Poets by Tessa Hofmann

Herzlichen Glückwünsch zum Geburtstag! or: Congratulations on your birthday!

Tessa Hofman

Bremen publisher Helmut Donat celebrates his 75th birthday. And the Working Group Recognition – Against Genocide, for International Understanding (AGA) eV says thank you from the bottom of my heart: Thank you, dear Helmut, for having worked for human rights, peace and justice as a publisher for 40 years. Your commitment as a publisher for and with Armenians stems from your pacifist orientation. You have recognized that wars – including civil wars – are part of those constellations that promote genocide and other atrocities. This was the case during World War I in the Ottoman Empire as well as during World War II in Nazi-occupied Europe.

You have republished classic German-language documentary works on the extermination of Ottoman Armenians, including the correspondence of the German Foreign Office published by Johannes Lepsius under the title “Germany and Armenia” in 1919 (reprint 1986 ), but also documentation on current violence against Armenians, including that published in 1989 by the Armenische Kolonie zu Berlin e.V., the Fellowship of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Berlin, and the Federation of Armenian Associations in the World of Language German, “Tanks against Perestroika: Documentation on the Conflict in and around Artsakh (Karabakh)”. This book, published shortly before the start of the First Karabakh War (December 1991 – May 1994), helped many Germans to understand the struggle for freedom and the independence movement in the Armenian region of Artsakh, which was forcibly annexed to Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union. diet in 1920.

Today, we are one Karabakh war (autumn 2020) further, but still no closer to the realization of the right to self-determination in Artsakh. And it seems that in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, which almost entirely captures Europe’s attention, the war and acts of violence in the South Caucasus are once again “ignored”.

With your commitment, dear Helmut, you have actively and effectively supported the movement for the “recognition” of the genocide launched by the Armenian community in Germany as well as the human rights organizations working here. We know of no other publishing house – even in international comparison – that has published as many books on the Armenian Genocide as yours; the following publications are currently available from Donat Verlag:

If the German Bundestag (Parliament) finally recognized in June 2016 the historical fact of the Ottoman genocide against approximately three million Christians before, after and especially during the First World War, it is therefore also thanks to you. Some cases, unfortunately, take a long time. We, the Recognition Working Grouppresented the first petition for parliamentary recognition to the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag as early as April 2000.

As a historian, you know the endurance of history, the slowness and stubbornness of politicians, but also the strength of perseverance. On your birthday, you can look back on many accomplishments due to your perseverance and principles. But at the same time, unfortunately, we still face many unresolved issues. Nationalism and militarism again threaten peaceful coexistence. Our wish for your birthday is therefore also to know that you will continue to be healthy and strong by our side, and to be able to leaf through the latest books from your publishing house, which, as always, you will print with attention and love worry.

Let us celebrate you today, our dear Helmut!