The Foundation’s focus on human rights makes an emphatic start with the victims of hate crimes, analysing their situation, their interests and their need for empowerment and practical solidarity. After all, the Foundation itself is a result of an international political process benefiting victims of human rights violations, especially victims of forced labour under National Socialism who were bereft not only of effective resources to defend themselves, but also of social commitment from their fellow men. Moral, human, financial and legal gestures of recognition of this injustice were withheld for a shamefully long period after the end of World War II and wounded the respect due to the victims, as well as the principles of an indivisible legal culture.
In remembrance of this injustice and the subsequent omissions, the Foundation aims to promote capacity building among civil society actors in future that will benefit vulnerable groups directly and complement existing preventive instruments. Not only does this study substantiate the existence of hate crimes in Germany and in Poland–two of the societies with which the Foundation plans to cooperate. The distinct gaps in systematic and critical monitoring and reliable data documented here lead us to fear that even today, in the heart of Europe, violations of the rights of for instance refugees, Roma or homosexuals continue to encounter a certain degree of social acceptance or indifference, instead of resolute advocacy of the same protection of rights, freedoms and dignities for all.
The international commitment of the Foundation »Remembrance, Responsibility and Future« will aim to ensure availability of direct offers of legal and personal assistance to victims of hate crimes. The project is expected to run in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. The necessary training of appropriate NGOs and the cross-frontier sharing of experience should trigger sustainable impulses for improving the situation and legal position of victims of hate crimes and for sensitising the relevant groups in society. This is to be done in close partnership cooperation between actors in the countries involved.
The present study documents the first intensive and practical German-Polish cooperation in the area of hate crimes.
We wish to thank the staff of the two partners in cooperation, the Nigdy Więcej association from Warsaw and the registered association for victims Opferperspektive from Potsdam, above all for their committed response to our initiative, for developing a comparative analytical and conceptual framework for the study and implementing this effectively up and down the country, as well as for contributing their valuable networks and their expertise, and last but not least for the careful preparation of this publication. Our thanks are due to the some 60 Polish and German interviewees from self-help initiatives and a wide range of associations for their trust and confidence in allowing us an insight into their work and for sharing their experience and their perspectives with us. This helped us to quantify the need for capacity building to assist the victims of hate crimes, whether this comprise legal, personal or psychological assistance.
We would be grateful to receive any suggestions for development of the human rights commitment of our Foundation for the benefit of victims of hate crimes.
We hope that this two-country study will itself grant readers new insights into the situation and interests of hate crime victims, or sensitise them for tasks in connection with human rights to which we cannot remain indifferent.
Dr. Martin Salm, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation »Remembrance, Responsibility and Future«