President Steinmeier speaks encouragement to students in Germany

13. April 2021

On April 12, 2021, German President Frank-Walther Steinmeier addressed students in a speech at the start of the summer semester. He spoke to them of courage and assured them: "Our country needs you!"

The Federal President's speech was livestreamed from Berlin's newly renovated State Library. The Federal President spoke to some invited students, who were seated at an appropriate distance from each other on the historic flight of steps of the "Stabi".

The pandemic's restrictions kept delaying young people's dreams, hopes and aspirations, Steinmeier said. "But I know one thing for sure: Our companies, our public administrations, our schools and universities, our hospitals need you - and not just because the baby boomers are gradually leaving the workforce. You are needed precisely because of the experience you bring with you from this crisis."

The president also emphasized the importance of the university as a public space: "I am convinced that digitization will never make the university obsolete as a public space! No matter how many zoom conferences there are, they can never replace face-to-face studies, which thrive on encounters and exchange. The split screen, the "tiling" of universities, as Berlin historian Paul Nolte put it, must not become the norm." We suffer in these times not only as learners and teachers, but also as human beings and social beings. 

Steinmeier speaks of the financial worries of the students, the uncertain future, but also that they are now "prepared for the emergency" and concludes his speech with a glimmer of hope: The students are helping to write the rules of the game of the future, no matter what these will be. 

The complete speech of the Federal President can be viewed and read here.