Tilman Zülch

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Tilman Zülch
Tilman Zulch.jpg
Zülch in 2010
Born(1939-09-02)2 September 1939
Died17 March 2023(2023-03-17) (aged 83)
Occupation(s)General secretary of the Society for Threatened Peoples and Society for Threatened Peoples International
Known forHuman rights activist

Tilman Zülch (German pronunciation: [ˈtɪlman ˈt͜sʏlç] ; 2 September 1939 17 March 2023) was a German human rights activist. He was the founder and general secretary of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). [1]



Zülch was born in Liebau, in the Sudetenland, now Libina, Czech Republic. His family left the Sudetenland in 1945, during the postwar expulsion of Germans. As a boy he belonged to the Bündische Jugend, part of the German Youth Movement, in Hamburg. He completed his Abitur at the Louisenlund Gymnasium in Rendsburg-Eckernförde. He studied politics and economics in Hamburg, Graz, and Heidelberg. He was active in college political groups and the Außerparlamentarische Opposition .

In June 1968, with Klaus Guerke, he founded Aktion: Biafra Hilfe to draw the attention of the world to the genocide happening in Biafra, in present-day Nigeria. [2]

The Society for Threatened Peoples (German: Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker) grew out of this organization in 1970. [3] Its main office has been located in Göttingen since 1979. As of 2006, its German branch, GfbV-Deutschland, is one of the largest human rights organizations in Germany.

Zülch felt that it is an obligation to campaign for religiously and ethnically persecuted people, especially for Germany and Austria given the crimes of Nazi Germany. He felt that the way for Germans to deal with the past is not to stay silent in face of other crimes such as those of the Stalin era, the mass expulsions of Germans after 1945, or the genocides of today. For example, in the early 1990s he was fined for breaking into a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm warehouse in Munich to secure evidence of the company's covertly supplying the Iraqi air force; [4] he repeatedly protested Russia's military actions in Chechnya, comparing the bombing of Grozny to Dresden in 1945; [5] [6] in 2005 in advance of the official visit of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg, East Prussia) to celebrate the city's 750th anniversary, he demanded in an open letter that Schröder note the mass expulsions and deaths of Germans there and elsewhere in the former eastern territories of Germany under Stalin; [7] he protested the 2008 Summer Olympics in China on behalf of Tibet, comparing it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin under the Nazis; [8] and he has been credited as one of those most responsible for the Sinti and Roma being recognized as a minority people in Germany. [3] He was also the editor of the journal bedrohte völker (previously pogrom).

Zülch died on 17 March 2023, at the age of 83. [1]

Awards and honors


(All available only in German)

Biafra, Death sentence for a People
The People That No-one Talks About: Persecuted Minorities
Gassed in Auschwitz, still persecuted today – on the situation of the Sinti and Roma in Europe
Genocide of the Kurds
Ethnic Cleansing – Genocide in the cause of Greater Serbia
Resistance of the Victims – Betrayed peoples between Hitler and Stalin

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  1. 1 2 "Göttinger Menschenrechtler und GFBV-Gründer: Tilman Zülch ist tot".
  2. 1 2 "Zwei hohe Ehrungen für Tilman Zülch". Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine (in German). Evangelische Pressedienst. 26 March 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 "Politik Kompaktt: Tilman Zülch für sein Engagement geehrt". Die Welt (in German). 28 March 2014.
  4. "Tilman Zülch". Der Spiegel (in German). 14 October 1991.
  5. Kohlmaier, Rita (20 December 1999). "Interview: Kann Deutschland Moskau zum Frieden zwingen?". Der Spiegel (in German).
  6. Bölsche, Jochen (1 April 2003). "Luftkrieg über Europa: So muss die Hölle aussehen". Der Spiegel (in German).
  7. "750 Jahre 'Kaliningrad'/Königsberg" (in German). Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker. 1 July 2005.
  8. "Tibet-Initiative beginnt Olympia-Protest". Die Welt (in German). Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 7 August 2008.
  9. "Tilman Zülch receives the European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma". Dosta!, Council of Europe . Retrieved 20 April 2014.