An update on the work of the Alfred Landecker Foundation

Dear Sir/Madam, Since first announcing the launch of the Alfred Landecker Foundation, we have received a number of requests for funding and / or partnerships. Thank you for your interest regarding the foundation’s mission and our planned work.

At the same time, we need to ask for your understanding as we are at the beginning of our journey of building the Alfred Landecker Foundation into an organization that will have meaningful impact. Whilst we are not yet ready to review partnership opportunities and approve potential grants, I wanted to provide an update on the work that is happening behind the scenes to make this happen.

Building a team
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Above all, we need excellent people who will take care of our mission on a daily basis. We are currently in the process of building a team - firstly looking to hire a Founding Director and a Chief Administrative Officer - and have run an international search for both roles since September. We are thankful to have received strong interest and we hope to be able to fill the roles in the first quarter of 2020, which will allow the Foundation to become operational soon thereafter.
Humanitarian assistance
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The Reimann family has made a commitment to provide €10m in humanitarian assistance to former forced laborers at Benckiser and survivors of the Holocaust. This follows the insights we have gained regarding the forced labor at Benckiser and the recognition that Albert Reimann Jr. and his father were strongly committed to Nazi ideology. Their beliefs and attitudes were deeply entrenched in the Anti-Semitic and totalitarian beliefs of the NSDAP.
Former forced laborers at Benckiser
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We are committed to connecting with as many living former forced laborers at Benckiser as possible so that we can support them financially; we have dedicated €5m to this work. We also plan to ask former forced laborers for their assistance in helping us to document the conditions and circumstances that they experienced at Benckiser, thereby contributing to a full and accurate account of what happened. Separate from the work of Professor Erker, who has a mandate for an independent review into the war-time history of Benckiser, we have hired a researcher to lead this effort and to help us identify recipients. We know from the work of Professor Erker that on average there were never more than 200 people in forced labor at Benckiser at any point in time. These people were from a variety of nationalities and reflect a range of experiences of forced labor, with some being held for as long as three years and others as short as several days. To date, we have identified 838 names of people who were in forced labor at Benckiser during World War II. In so far as we know, none of these people were Jewish or were sent to Benckiser from concentration camps. The Reimann Family is committed to providing financial assistance for each former forced laborer. Should they be deceased, we will ensure their next of kin receives the sum that would otherwise have gone to the former forced laborer themselves. This commitment will be independent from any assistance that someone may have received from the mutual compensation initiative which was made by German corporates and the Federal Government on December 17, 1999 following German President, Johannes Rau, asking the millions of victims of Nazi forced and slave labor for forgiveness. This initiative was specifically created to compensate victims of National Socialism, in which the family-owned company Benckiser participated.
Survivors of The Holocaust
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To support survivors of the Holocaust, we have signed a partnership with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), to whom we have agreed to provide €5m of the €10m over a three-year period to enable emergency financial assistance to low income Holocaust survivors facing critical needs. This program will be independently run by the Claims Conference through its network of partner agencies throughout the world and will begin in 2020. The organization has global reach and experience in supporting Holocaust survivors in their daily needs. There are approximately 400,000 survivors alive today, many of whom live in extremely difficult circumstances. We are grateful that the Claims Conference has agreed to administer this program without cost and would therefore ask all Holocaust survivors who have contacted us to connect directly with the Claims Conference who will then link with local agencies to provide assistance.
The work of the foundation
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In addition to the €10m fund pledged for humanitarian assistance to survivors of the Holocaust and former forced laborers at Benckiser, the Reimann family has committed €25m annually as the operating budget of the Alfred Landecker Foundation, supporting its programmatic work. With this financial commitment in mind, we are now in the process of developing overarching criteria for our programs and partnerships, which will build on the Foundation’s founding mission.

All of our work will be governed by these three Founding Principles

1. We will connect back to our roots: the life of Alfred Landecker as a German Jew and his death at German hands in 1942 during Nazi Rule.

This is the basis from which we will operate, meaning that we are committed to fighting Anti-Semitism, especially in Germany, pushing back against Holocaust revisionism, and promoting remembrance.

2. We will be impact-focused by strengthening democracy in western societies via behavioral sciences.

We aim to measure fundamental beliefs so that we can better understand the drivers for the decline of liberal values; the rise of populist nationalism; and the undermining of institutional stability and separation of powers we are currently witnessing. We see the reversal of these trends as an essential outcome of our work. Special attention will focus on the attitudes and trends amongst Millennials and Generation Z.

3. We will create an academic network that addresses key aspects in the protection of ethnic, religious and cultural minorities in an age of populist nationalism.

Our program will aim to build on the lessons learned from the collapse of European civilization in the 1930s: the emergence and proliferation of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, the decline in minority rights protection vested by the League of Nations, the subsequent World War, and the Holocaust committed in its shadow as the ultimate crime against humanity, seeking to murder all Jews, everywhere. We believe that in the context of rising populist majoritarianism, minority protection is emerging as one of the most relevant topics of critical relevance for western societies.

What happens next

We are guided by our commitments and principles and therefore will only consider project grants in the areas of books and documentation, exhibitions and films, or academic research that are part of broader initiatives in which we are involved. This means that we’re unable to support some of the proposals we have received to date, including those related to infrastructure projects. We look forward to being able to consider partnership proposals and applications for grants and funding projects which align with our principles and these guidelines once our team is in place.

In the meantime, may I suggest you check our website for further updates on the work of the Alfred Landecker Foundation.

Yours faithfully,
David Kamenetzky

Chairman of the Governing Council
Alfred Landecker Foundation

Our topics

Combat antisemitism

Strengthen democracy

Protect minorities

Depolarize debates

Confront the past

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