Senate Medal for Eastern Europe expert Professor Wolfgang Eichwede
Only a few days after the 80th birthday of Bremen historian Wolfgang Eichwede, the Bremen Senate honored him with the Senate Medal for Arts and Sciences on 15 June. At the ceremony in the Upper Town Hall, Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte paid tribute to the former University of Bremen professor for his work, which made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of German relations with Eastern Europe and to Bremen as a center of science. In a round of talks with four people who have accompanied Prof Eichwede on various stages of his life journey, the conversation shined a light on episodes and stops along the way.
How do you accomplish all that in one lifetime? This was the question the approximately 150 guests were left with at the end of the talk, which highlighted the extraordinarily broad panorama of Professor Eichwede's pursuits. As a young professor in the University of Bremen’s wild founding years, involved with MISOS (Mittwochs-Sozialisten), the Wednesday Socialists, an undogmatic left-wing group of university lecturers, and as a lecturer who always demanded a high standard of academic work from the students in his seminars. In 1982, as the founding director of the Research Centre for Eastern Europe at the University of Bremen, which was to gain the highest international renown with its unique archive of samizdat, underground literature from communist countries. As a political advisor who knows Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe from countless travels, who met the former president of the Soviet Union Gorbachev three times and maintains a personal network with hundreds of (former) Eastern European dissidents who, after the fall of communism in 1989, are now leading academic or political representatives of their countries. As an art historian who supports Kunsthalle Bremen and others in the repatriation of artworks that went missing during the Second World War, making an invaluable contribution and distinguishing himself greatly in the process.
Narrating these stories were Bremen health researcher and sociologist Annelie Keil, former Czech dissident and later ambassador to England Pavel Seifter, leading CDU foreign policy expert and President of the German Association for East European Studies Ruprecht Polenz, and Bremen-based entrepreneur and Deputy Chairman of Kunstverein Bremen Hans-Christoph Erling. All painted witty, detailed pictures, with great admiration for the honoured guest. Professor Eichwede returned the favour in his acceptance speech with very thought-provoking views on the current situation in Eastern Europe. A worthy recipient of the Senate Medal.
You can listen to the panel discussion with Professor Wolfgang Eichwede from 5 May 2022, titled "Putin's War on Ukraine – European Policy and Security Architecture”, on YouTube.