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New Year's Greetings, 2010

Moin-Moin Dear Friends,

Gitta and I spent over seven months of this past year in Flensburg. Age forced our mothers (eighty-five and ninety, respectively) to stop living in their homes.

Our grandchildren Julia (nearly one year) and Johanna (just turned one) are enchanting all who see them.

During the summer, we enjoyed hosting American celebrity Ric O'Barry in our Flensburg apartment ('Barry).

O'Barry is well-known for his 2010 Oscar-winning documentary ("The Cove") about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. With help from a Japanese translator,

a Swiss author, and Flensburg newspaper editor Stephan Richter, O'Barry was in Flensburg running a national campaign to protect harbor porpoises

(part of the dolphin family) in the Flensburg Fjord.

Soon after returning to our home in Northfield, Minnesota, we had the pleasure of hosting Flensburg surgeon Dr. Christian Hansen. The "man with the magic hands"

and golden heart loved hanging out with his new Mayo Clinic friends, Doctors DePompolo, Berger, and Goessel.

As you know, we spent a great deal of time and energy working on the "Legacy of 1848," our conference held last year in Denison, Iowa. I'm glad to report

that the effects of this conference continue to be felt. It inspired Klaus Lemke (my high school friend and former German Navy pastor) to finish his brilliant

dissertation. It is about the Civil Servant as a Democratic Revolutionary — the Church in Schleswig-Holstein and the Forty-eighters. My American friend

Scott Christiansen from Iowa City has begun writing what may be the first biography about the common man as a Forty-eighter, focusing on his

great-great grandfather (Jürgen Peter Ankerson, a native of Rantrum, Schleswig-Holstein) who settled in Davenport, Iowa. Scott previously wrote

The Soul of Schleswig-Holstein (, a very informative Coffee Table Book of his search for his ancestral roots, the help I was able

to give him in this regard, and how our mutual admiration for the Forty-eighters resulted in a marvelous friendship. Lastly on the Forty-eighter front,

a PhD student from Arkansas contacted us for advice on his research about politician Rudolph Schleiden, a Schleswig-Holstein Forty-eighter who later

became a diplomat and close friend of Henry Seward, Secretary of Foreign Affairs under President Lincoln.

Without a doubt, the highlight of 2010 was the local wanderlust with eighty-year-old Dr. Wolfgang Plenio, my former philosophy teacher. Several lengthy

hikes along the Flensburg Fjord led to a four paragraph "Call for Action." I think we might all agree that the recent financial crises is only the tip of the

iceberg. Could not the value system advocated by the Forty-eighters be a blueprint for how to deal with the many pressing challenges facing us all today?

(Please see below or the attachments of both the German and English versions of "Call for Action.")

On a lighter note, New Year's Eve will be a trip down memory lane. As a hitchhiker in 1976, I worked for the Petersen brothers, bricklayers who

had emigrated from my hometown of Flensburg and settled in Kitchener, Canada (a city south of Toronto which was known as Berlin from 1854 until 1916).

The Petersens have organized an alumni jamboree on their lavish golf course (

All the best for 2011!

Yours, Gitta & Yogi (


The Folly of Freedom without Social Responsibility

Deutschland schafft sich ab, a recent book by former German politician and Deutsche Bundesbank board member, Thilo Sarrazin, has fanned the flames of an ongoing national debate in Germany about immigration and integration policies. The book also revealed the dangerous loss of moral values afflicting not only Europe, but the entire western world.

In democracies, freedom is often viewed as a license for carte blanche pursuit of egoistic interests. Nowhere was this demonstrated more forcefully than in the financial arena where unscrupulous members of banks, investment houses, and insurance companies engaged in behavior so eggregiously self-serving and shortsighted as to precipitate a worldwide financial crisis. Through naked corruption and irresponsible speculation, a small group of individuals amassed huge profits at the expense of clients that had placed their trust in them. In essence, free market capitalism benefitting society as a whole was replaced by a rigged market enriching only a few.

The financial crisis resulted from a widespread cancer of moral irresponsibility. This cancer will continue to grow until there is a radical awakening of the world's conscience and a collective understanding that freedom is unsustainable if we are only responsible to our selves. Conscientious, civic-minded people should consider the prevailing aversion to constructive politics and the resulting apathy as a call to arms to search for lasting solutions that benefit all.

Enduring solutions do not require the individual to give up his cultural identity. They do require an acknowledgement that the concept of freedom is meaningless without social responsibility. These two basic tenets are the yin and yang of any civilized society. One without the other is meaningless and unsustainable. Laws must reflect the democratic values of human dignity, free speech, help to those in need, respectful and civil dialog among people of diverse backgrounds, gender equality, and a government that is neutral in religious and philosophical matters, as long as these do not undermine its very existence.

With the foregoing in mind, a common European constitution with a global vision would be an important first step. The guiding principles on which to base this constitution are not new. They can be found in the ideas of the European Enlightenment of the 18th century, concepts which form the bedrock of America's Constitution and the Basic Law of the German Republic.

The fight for political freedom was a powerful motive for many of the almost 500,000 men and women who left Germany and Europe between 1848 and 1850 to immigrate to America. Following the failed democratic revolutions in their home country, these "Forty Eighters" took a stand in their new country for freedom from unjustified and unwarranted governmental intrusion and state-sanctioned discrimination. These courageous individuals can serve as role models as we seek a new path. In our search for new answers, we can draw inspiration from their conviction that each of us is imbued with inherent moral values that we must exemplify in both our public and private lives. ©Kaupp, Reppmann

Aufbruch zu verantwortlicher Freiheit

Besinnung auf Wegbereiter der Demokratie seit 1848

Das Buch des Ex-Finanzsenators Thilo Sarrazin fachte nicht nur die Integrationsdebatte neu an, sondern machte auch den bedrohlichen Werteverlust deutlich, unter dem nicht nur Europa, sondern darüber die gesamte westliche Welt zu leiden hat. Freiheit wird heute in demokratisch verfassten Staaten als Freibrief für hemmungslose Ausnutzung egoistischer Interessen missverstanden. Der übersteigerte Kapitalismus, die „freie Marktwirtschaft“, die dem Allgemeinwohl dienen sollte, hat am Beispiel skrupelloser Bankmanager allen klar gemacht, dass bloßer Eigennutz die westliche Welt in die schwere Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise geführt hat. Sie brachte durch Korruption und verantwortungslose Spekulation auf Kosten des gutgläubigen, aber ohnmächtigen Steuerzahlers nur einer kleinen Minderheit riesige Gewinne. Die weltweite Krise ist erst dann überwunden, wenn sich im Bewusstsein der ganzen westlichen Welt eine radikale Umkehr vollzieht. Nur eine Rückkehr zum ursprünglichen Freiheitsverständnis, das mit Verantwortung für alle untrennbar verbunden ist, kann die bleibende Angst vor einer totalen existenzbedrohenden Krise überwinden!

Politikverdrossenheit und die damit verbundene Wahlmüdigkeit müssten jeden verant-wortungsbewussten Menschen zur Suche nach echten Lösungen, nach einem großen „Wir-Ziel“ auffordern. Es geht nicht darum, dass das Individuum seine kulturelle Identität aufgeben oder gar seine Herkunft verleugnen muss. Vielmehr müssen die Regeln, die Gesetze des Zusammenlebens in der jeweiligen Gesellschaft neu durchdacht und ernst genommen werden. Dazu gehören die demokratischen Grundwerte: Menschenwürde, freie Meinungsäußerung, Solidarität mit hilfsbedürftigen Menschen, Respektierung Anders-denkender im gewaltfreien Dialog, Gleichberechtigung von Mann und Frau und der religiös und weltanschaulich neutrale Staat.

Vor diesem Hintergrund wäre eine gemeinsame europäische Verfassung mit globalem Ziel ein wichtiger Schritt. Als Grundlage für das praktische Verhalten und Handeln in Politik und Gesellschaft bietet sich die europäische Aufklärung des 18. Jahrhunderts an, der sowohl die Verfassung der USA als auch das Grundgesetz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland verpflichtet sind.

Den Kampf um politische Freiheit führten viele der rund 500 000 Männer und Frauen, die in den Jahren zwischen 1848 und 1850 Deutschland und Europa verließen und in die USA auswanderten. Nach den misslungenen demokratischen Revolutionen in der alten Heimat traten die so genannten „Forty-Eighters“ in Amerika gegen Sklaverei und für Gerechtigkeit und Freiheit ein. Insofern können sie heute als Vorbilder dienen, denen wir auf neuen Wegen nacheifern sollten. Ihre Überzeugung, dass jeder von uns moralische Werte in sich trägt, die er auch öffentlich vertreten muss, kann uns dabei behilflich sein.

©Kaupp, Reppmann

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