The day of the open society on 17 June in Berlin

Already more than 400 tables – and that number is increasing daily. An entire country is setting the table and celebrating an open society, freedom and democracy and in so doing is speaking out against all autocrats and would-be autocrats in this extraordinary election year of 2017. 

12/06/2017

On 17 June there will be a nationwide event in Germany. An entire country will get together with friends, neighbours and strangers to eat, discuss and celebrate the democracy. Not only in Berlin, but also from Kiel to Munich and from Bonn to Dresden, in large cities and small villages, on pavements, in gardens, at market places and in parks, people are gathering together and sitting down at jointly-laid tables. Why? Because our society stands for hospitality and openness and not for anger and marginalisation.

The “Initiative Offene Gesellschaft“(Open Society Initiative) warmly invites you to visit our table in Berlin on 17 June from 5pm onwards. Come to the Tempelhofer Feld (between the Paradestraße entrance and the Tempelhofer Damm entrance) and take a seat at the 100-metre-long table next to Katja Riemann or Martin Roth, for example. There the baker of the “Initiative Offene Gesellschaft“, together with his Syrian colleagues, will supply everyone with bread. The event kick-off, from 4pm to 5pm at the Allianz forum at Pariser Platz, will feature speakers such as Ulrich Lilie, President of the Protestant social welfare organisation Diakonie Deutschland, Harald Welzer, co-founder of the Initiative, actress Katja Reimann, Yvonne Büdenholzer, leader of the Berlin Theatertreffen and author Franz Alt.

“In recent years our society has become polarised and in many places alienated,” says Ulrich Lilie, President of Diakonie Deutschland. “The idea of the table stands for the opposite – for exchange, constructive discussion, hospitality and solidarity. Together with all those people of good will, we are sending a clear signal from civil society.” Harald Welzer, co-founder of the Initiative Offene Gesellschaft, agrees: “One needs to stand up for democracy, as long as it exists. Afterwards it gets increasingly more difficult.”

Being against something is currently in fashion. We however are #dafür - for democracy, for a plural European Germany, for an open society. Because one can never take any of it for granted. An open society only exists when enough people stand up for it.

Open Society Day on 17 June 2017

4-5pm: Statements in the Allianz Forum, Pariser Platz

5-10pm: Long tables, Tempelhofer Feld

The Initiative Offene Gesellschaft was founded by Alexander Carius (Managing Director of the Berlin think-tank adelphi), André Wilkens and Harald Welzer (Director, FuturZwei Foundation Zukunftsfähigkeit). The initiative’s aim is to defend democracy from its enemies and to develop society further. It brings together many forces for democracy, all acting independently, into a civil society movement.

You can find out more information regarding the Initiative Offene Gesellschaft and an overview of the registered tables at: https://www.die-offene-gesellschaft.de/17juni/tafeln