There are many sides to cultural life in Germany: From North to South there are around 300 theaters and 130 professional orchestras. The museum world is of quite unparalleled quality – featuring 630 art museums with diverse internationally renowned collections.

Monument to the German poets Goethe und Schiller in Weimar
(© picture alliance / Lou Avers)
Young German painting is equally vibrant, and is long since part of the international scene. Germany is one of the major book nations, with around 94,000 new books and re-editions each year. And German films are once again a great success at home and abroad.

Germany is known as the "Land of the poets and thinkers." Goethe was German, as were Bach and Beethoven. And yet, as a nation of culture, Germany still has no national authority with overall responsibility for culture for the country as a whole.

According to the Basic Law or Grundgesetz, culture is the responsibility of the individual federal states. Yet why are cultural affairs something that the nation itself as a whole cannot, or is not meant to, govern?

Alte Nationalgalerie / Berlin
(© picture alliance / Arco Images)
Ever since the era of Kaiser Wilhelm II in the late 19th century, German culture as the expression of a single German nation was suspected of being the reflection of a craving for status. The disaster of National Socialism ultimately resulted in a re-alignment.

Following the Second World War the opinion gradually gained sway that Germany would only be able to return to the world community if it avoided all semblance of exaggerated emotionalism as regards the national culture. This is one of the reasons why, when the Federal Republic was founded in 1949, one bore the federal tradition in mind and handed over cultural sovereignty to the federal states.

Monika Grütters has been Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media since 2013
(© picture-alliance)
Only since 1999 has a State Minister for Culture and Media been part of the Federal Chancellery. Since then Germany has once again seen this or that cultural matter as being something the entire country should be involved with.

Federal film production was re-organized, and the German Federal Cultural Foundation founded. Berlin is increasingly turning into a magnet for the creative class, and has already become a cultural force, a melting pot of cultures, whose museums are a reflection of the history of humanity.

Femal Cello Player in Berlin Holocaust Memorial (c) dpa/Stephanie Pilick
(© dpa/Stephanie Pilick)
The Holocaust Memorial is testimony hewn in stone to how Germany as a cultural nation is dealing with its history. It is impressive proof of a form of national cultural policy that has become necessary since the dawn of the 21st century.

Cultural federalism, in turn, kindles the ambition of the federal states. Cultural policy is local policy. For years now the Ruhr area, for example, a former mining and steel-producing region in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has been re-inventing itself as a cultural region. As the 2010 European Capital of Culture, the Ruhr region documented how creative milieus open up paths to the future.

Text adapted from

Federal Foreign Office - Culture and Intercultural Dialogue

Along with political and economic relations, cultural relations, including education, is one of the three cornerstones of German foreign policy. Cultural and educational programs tailored to the needs and interests of people in our partner countries creates a basis for stable international relations and builds trust in our country around the world.

German Federal Foreign Office - Culture

The Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office

The association Afghan Rehabilitation Group e.V.  is keen to provide women with vocational training and employment.

Since 1981 the Federal Republic of Germany has supported the preservation of cultural heritage across the world through the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme, with the aim of strengthening people’s sense of their own national identity in the partner country and fostering cultural dialogue among partners. The Programme has become a very effective instrument of German cultural relations and education policy.

Cultural Preservation Programme

The new building of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) in Halle (Saale)

The new building of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) in Halle (Saale)

The German Federal Cultural Foundation

The German Federal Cultural Foundation promotes art and culture within the scope of federal competence. One of its main priorities is to support innovative programmes and projects on an international level. To achieve this, the Foundation invests in projects which develop new methods of fostering cultural heritage and tap into the cultural and artistic potential of knowledge required for addressing social issues.

German Federal Cultural Foundation
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