Komm mit – wohin?

An annual programme on crisis and departure

Graphic of the theme year »Komm mit – wohin? Ein Jahresprogramm über Krise und Aufbruch«

The Francke Foundations are a widely visible proof of the synthesis of permanence and constant change. We know today that August Hermann Francke used this architectural language deliberately to set a sign of the promise for better times. He was interested in a more equal society, in which each individual - and each woman - should have access to adequate education in order to be able to take responsibility for their own way of life. He perceived many of the social conditions of his time as crisis-ridden and, in response, developed reform ideas with which he helped to set sustainable processes of change in motion. However, since a call for change always goes hand in hand with uncertainty, the establishment of an architecture that promised permanence and security was a central means of flanking the far-reaching processes of change that Francke wanted to oppose the crises of his time. The concept worked. The school city was praised worldwide as the New Jerusalem by the followers of Halle's Pietism, and the sublime architecture received respectful recognition even from skeptical contemporaries.

Not only the knowledge that the Francke Foundations themselves can be seen as a departure from the social crisis phenomena of the 17th century has inspired us to place the topic of crisis and departure at the centre of our 2019 annual programme. Rather, the astonishing realization was added that despite great material prosperity and such far-reaching safeguards against all conceivable dangers of life, our present is generally perceived as more crisis-prone than ever before. The title »Komm mit – wohin?« implies a competition of ideas for viable concepts for the future, the outcome of which has not yet been decided. It is precisely this competition of ideas that we hope for.

In September we opened the annual exhibition  »Moderne Jugend? Jungsein in den Franckeschen Stiftungen 1890 – 1933«, which underwent a fundamental change of perspective. In 2019, Germany celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, a movement of young people whose concepts are also to be understood as a reaction to the crisis phenomena of the early 20th century. We took this opportunity to look at the same time and to ask, apart from the actual Bauhaus movement, what it meant to be a young person in the Francke Foundations at that time, what fears, hopes and expectations the adolescents who lived as pupils in the Foundations or attended the schools here had. In the recurring events such as the Francke celebration, Museum Night, the Lindenblütenfest or »Persönlichkeiten im Gespräch«, we opened a forum for current social debates, turned them into a place of respectful discourse culture and thus also made a contribution to the preservation of a fortified democracy in an open and diverse society. Its basis is always the respectful interaction with each other and its essence of life a competition for the best ideas for the future.