Friedrich Ebert Foundation

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The Friedrich Ebert Foundation ( German: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung; Abbreviation: FES) is a German political foundation associated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), yet independent of it. Established in 1925 as the political legacy of Friedrich Ebert, Germany's first democratically elected President, it is the largest and oldest of the German party-associated foundations. It is headquartered in Bonn and Berlin, and has offices and projects in over 100 countries. It is Germany's oldest organisation to promote democracy, political education, and promote students of outstanding intellectual abilities and personality.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Social Democratic Party of Germany political party in Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany, or SPD, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.

Friedrich Ebert 19th and 20th-century German politician and president of Germany

Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925.



The FES was named for Friedrich Ebert (1871–1925), the Social Democratic President of Germany, 1919-1925. In his will, he specified that the proceeds from donations at his funeral should be used to create a foundation. The SPD chairman at the time, Konrad Ludwig, was given the responsibility of building this foundation, which he did a few days after Ebert's death in 1925. The main concern of the foundation was to work against discrimination of workers in the area of education: "The Friedrich Ebert Foundation pursues the goal of giving young, empowered proletarians government aid to fund an education at state-accredited institutions. As a basic principle, only those people who have a recommendation from the party organisation will receive funding." (SPD Yearbook 1926) By the end of 1931, 295 students had been funded with over 52,000 marks. Unfortunately, at this point the funding of the foundation fell through, as a result of the Great Depression. The FES was a section of the Social Democratic Education and Culture Organisation, and was banned along with the party itself in 1933 by the Nazis. In 1946, the FES was reinstituted at the founding assembly of the Socialist German Student Federation. In 1954, the FES was restructured into a charitable organisation "for the advancement of democratic education". This established the FES as an independent, self-contained institute. In addition to education programmes, the FES has also worked in the area of development aid since the 1960s. In this effort, it has supported democracy and freedom movements, for instance in the African National Congress (ANC), and played an important role in overcoming dictatorial regimes in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Thus it was not a coincidence that the Socialist Party of Portugal was formed in an FES school in the German town of Bad Münstereifel.

President of Germany Head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany

The President of Germany, officially the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany, is the head of state of Germany.

Deutsche Mark official currency of West Germany and later Germany from 1948 to 2002

The Deutsche Mark, abbreviated "DM" or "D-Mark" , was the official currency of West Germany from 1948 until 1990 and later the unified Germany from 1990 until 2002. It was first issued under Allied occupation in 1948 to replace the Reichsmark, and served as the Federal Republic of Germany's official currency from its founding the following year until the adoption of the euro. In English it is commonly called the "Deutschmark" ; this expression is unknown in Germany. The Germans usually called it D-Mark when referring to the currency, and Mark when talking about individual sums.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Academic Foundation

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Academic Foundation (FES) is one of eleven organizations for the promotion of young talents (Begabtenförderwerke) in Germany. Only 1% of German students achieve a scholarship at one of the eleven organizations (i.e. FES, Studienstiftung, Konrad Adenauer Foundation). [1] It is financially funded and subsidized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and supports students with outstanding academical and political achievements. Awards are granted after a multi-stage selection process and are based on grades, letters of recommendation, letters of motivation, political and social engagement as well as personality and character. Until today it has sponsored more than 12,000 grantees. Over 90% of those sponsored graduate with honours. In 2005, there were 1,731 students in the programme, of which 51% were women. Beyond the financial support, grantees also receive so-called ideational support, which comes from opportunities to attend political seminars, conferences, and other activities, which can be important job qualifications. The FES kept its own conference center on the Venusberg in Bonn for these activities until its closure in 2009. Each year, the grantees vote for a board during the nationwide conference at the Stresemann Institute in Bonn. This board serves for the next full year as the representation of grantees for dialog with the foundation. The FES maintains a website ( for networking among grantees, which includes a wide variety of mailing lists, services, and communications tools.

Students are assigned advisors who work with them for the length of their grants, and also belong to a student organisation.

Further activities

Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bonn Bonn FES.jpg
Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bonn

Today, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's main goals are to promote political and societal education of people from all walks of life in the spirit of democracy and pluralism, to enable young people the opportunity to study and do research through grants, and to work toward international understanding and cooperation.

The foundation employs several hundred employees in their offices in Bonn and Berlin, as well as in 14 regional offices and an academy within Germany and in over 100 foreign agencies. It is financed mainly through grants from the federal budget and the budgets of the various Bundesländer.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

States of Germany First-level administrative subdivisions of the Federal Republic of Germany

Germany is a federal republic consisting of sixteen states. Since today's Germany was formed from an earlier collection of several states, it has a federal constitution, and the constituent states retain a measure of sovereignty. With an emphasis on geographical conditions, Berlin and Hamburg are frequently called Stadtstaaten (city-states), as is the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, which in fact includes the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. The remaining 13 states are called Flächenländer.

Since 1971, foreign students have also had the opportunity to receive grants through solidarity funds. Preference for these grants goes to people who are persecuted on political, racial or religious grounds. Funding for this program comes exclusively from donations from current and former grantees. The program have helped over 1,000 students. Currently there are 31 students who are in the solidarity programme. Two grantees from this programme are chosen every year at the conference in Bonn to work on the steering committee of the fund.

The historical research center of the foundation also contains the Archive of Social Democracy and its libraries in Bonn and at the Karl Marx House in Trier. This is one of the largest collections of documents on social history and the history of the workers movement.

Karl Marx House museum

The Karl Marx House museum is a writer's house museum in Trier. In 1818, Karl Marx, the father of modern socialism and communism, was born in the house. It is now a museum about Karl Marx's life and writings as well as the history of communism.

Trier Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Trier, formerly known in English as Treves and Triers, is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. Trier lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg and within the important Moselle wine region. The German philosopher and one of the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx was born in the city in 1818.

Social history, often called the new social history, is a field of history that looks at the lived experience of the past. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and the United States. In the two decades from 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history rose from 31% to 41%, while the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%. In the history departments of British and Irish universities in 2014, of the 3410 faculty members reporting, 878 (26%) identified themselves with social history while political history came next with 841 (25%).

Since 1982, the foundation has awarded a prize of 10,000 euro called "The Political Book" to promote noteworthy political books. The prize serves to remind people of the Nazi book burnings of May 10, 1933.

Nazi book burnings campaign to burn books in Nazi Germany and Austria

The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the German Student Union to ceremonially burn books in Nazi Germany and Austria in the 1930s. The books targeted for burning were those viewed as being subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism. These included books written by Jewish, pacifist, religious, classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, and communist authors, among others. The first books burned were those of Karl Marx and Karl Kautsky.

Chairmen since 1953

See also

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