Talk in the Park

"Freedom as a Responsibility"

Joachim Gauck Visits the Robert Bosch Stiftung

Stuttgart, September 17, 2011 - At the Robert Bosch House in Stuttgart, Joachim Gauck spoke in front of a small group of guests about a topic he believes in strongly: "Freedom as a Responsibility." The former head of the Stasi archives, who personally experienced the burden of imprisonment and despotic rule during the first 50 years of his life, called on his audience not to take for granted the freedom which people have enjoyed for more than 60 years - at least in West Germany. He challenged his listeners not to allow themselves to become infected with the typical German discontentment, but to believe in their own potential instead. The stable democratic order which Germany created after World War II is an excellent reason to be optimistic.

The Right Understanding of Freedom

Gauck believes that the key is having the right understanding of freedom. To him, freedom is not about the absence of external constraints - "freedom from something" - but rather about responsibly shaping freedom - a "freedom for something." To Gauck, responsibility is both the foundation and the price of freedom, because "without responsibility, everything goes to pieces."

After Gauck finished his lecture, a lively discussion about his theories developed. The participants particularly asked how Gauck would have weighed in as Germany's president on the current political debate about saving the euro. The former presidential candidate of the SPD and Green parties pointed out that responsible politics cannot only consider the economic arguments. Besides the financial cost of saving the heavily indebted nations, the political value of the European Union must also be taken in account.

Picture Gallery

150 Years
of Robert Bosch