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Art and Our Historical Heritage

By Joe F. Bodenstein, European Art Foundation Berlin


Speech given at the Grand Opening of the Sculpture Garden of Alexander the Great, at the Museum of European Art in Clarence, New York on September 7, 2008




The art patron and publisher Joe F. Bodenstein speaks about art and our historical heritage at the Museum of European Art in Clarence, New York.



Ladies and Gentlemen,

The welcome speech of Consul B. John Zavrel has informed us, why we are here together on this blessed place. Please allow me to speak also in your name and say: Thank you very, very much Mr. Zavrel for arranging this great event. Thank you and your supporters and friends for the efforts you made, without any governmental help.

I like to point out: without "any governmental help".

And this, dear friends of Art, we can call the "real good, old American tradition".

Centuries ago, when people came from all over Europe to America, they depended on themselves. Many of the emigrants in those days came here because they were suffering in their native countries. Others were attracted by the expected adventures in the so-called New World.

But all of them had the same goal: "We want to make it. We will make it. And we must make it to survive."

These countless emigrants and settlers of the past brought their culture along: their Christian religion, their Jewish religion, their songs, their way of life and their art. And all this has formed North America, and finally the United States of America. The United States would have not become what they are now without the new spirit of the emigrants of the past. And moreover, the United States cannot remain the leading nation in the world without their scientists, businessmen, intellectuals, and the cultural foundations based on the Christian European heritage.


Well, this is a very brief historical review. And you recognize from my words that I do not want to speak on this occasion about the "dark nights in the history of mankind". These dark nights and shadows &endash; unfortunately &endash; we find in all nations. Nowadays, more than sixty years after the Second World War, we still have the controversy about what cruelties had happened, and what should not have happened.

I think that we can be very fortunate that first of all the people of USA and Germany came together after years of war. And it is a fact that Germany after 1945 was -- under the first Christian Democratic Chancellor Konrad Adenauer -- the most trustful European ally of the United States. And Germany is still the most trustful partner in the transatlantic alliance. The present German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel continues the traditional German policy of good and close relations to Washington. And this first Lady Chancellor in Germany guaranties the friendship and cooperation between Germany and Israel.

No doubt: These are positive aspects for freedom and democracy.


Dear friends:

At the same time we should keep this in our mind and heart: Governments come and go, but the people remain.

And we--as a German let me speak first of all about the American-German friendship--should remember our roots and our common historical heritage. And an important part in this complex is our culture in all fields. We should not think only about our culture in Art, Music, Literature, Religion, and Craftsmanship. But we should also include our--let me call it--"art of humanity". This art of humanity must find space in politics, economics, and social life. And we should put pressure on the politicians not to forget the peoples' needs, wishes and interests.

The late US President John F. Kennedy once said &endash; what I like to translate in my poor English: "Do not ask what your country can do for you &endash; ask first of all, what can you do for your country?"


Ladies and Gentlemen,

a very good example is this art project of the Alexander Garden in Clarence. There are information flyers available about the project, and how one can support it. Please, do get interested in it, and become a sponsor according to your ability. It is a fact: each dollar helps toward a good goal.

If you as citizens of this county support the Alexander Garden and the Museum of European Art, you also support better conditions for the young generation, and for an educated society in the region.

As you can see: many artists from Europe share the idea of the Sculpture Garden, and they have donated bronze sculptures for it. This way, they use art for a better understanding between the people of both nations. They believe in cooperation in friendship and freedom.

In their name, I would like to salute America and salute all of you who take part in this event on this very auspicious day in Clarence.

Thank you for your attention.



© PROMETHEUS 135/2008

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 135, September 2008