German hamlet of Asia
The silent waves of Gulf of Mannar towards the sandy shores of
Marawila, a western coastal town of Sri Lanka was creating a symphony of
ecstasy, made by mind often in a state of standstill.
Dietmar Doring, the Founder/Director of the AGSEP (extreme left)
with some of the student participants of the ‘Night of a Thousand
Dinners’ event which was held recently at the Aquarius Sports Resort
Hotel, Marawila, Sri Lanka.
Watching the horizon of the shiny blue sky, above the Indian Ocean,
while sipping blended coffee is always an unforgettable experience at
the beach-end restaurant of Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, which is
surrounded by greeneries of scenic view, which is unique only to this
More than enjoying the taste of the nature's gifts around there,
conversing on the issues of world affairs focusing Germany and rest of
the Europe will become always a hot topic in the restaurant and will
make at times, the environment into a German hamlet of Asia.
The Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, which hosts the Asian-German Sports
Exchange Program (AGSEP), a Non-Governmental Organisation, operating in
the development political sector with a partner office is in Essen,
The Resort also accommodates the Sri Lanka division of the
International Institute for Ratings and Consultancy (IIRC), a German
based Think-Tank, which facilitates surveys and consultancy and
currently carrying out a survey on the tsunami devastations for
presenting donors around the world.
My association with these institutions after the tsunami disaster has
made me to visit often there and gave me a chance to know more about the
German history, economy and cultural issues through my conversation with
students of leading German universities who are in their exchange
programs and doing their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the
fields of economics, political science, social science, engineering and
Dietmar Doring, the founder/director of the AGSEP and the country
director of the IIRC was an amateur national coach for the table tennis
team of Sri Lanka and could be proud of his decision to use the sports
events as a medium for encouraging peace in this island, has gone a long
He has salvaged his personal trauma of the war-torn experience by the
decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka and beyond that by the lasting
trauma caused by the destructions in Germany in the major world - wars.
The dedication of Dietmar Doring and his AGSEP students who have done
a memorable service to this Island in the tsunami period and thereafter,
by importing goods and medicines directly from Germany which is worth
more than US$ 5 Million cannot be forgotten by Sri Lankans forever.
Their kind and caring nature has prompted me to associate with AGSEP
in number of ways and it is an unforgettable experience in associating
Recently we had a joint event of the AGSEP and the PDIP: A Think-Tank
on Post Conflict, Economic and Gender issues at the restaurant of the
Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, the "Night of a Thousand Dinners", an
initiative of Adopt-A-Minefield, a program of the United Nations
Association of the USA and the Canadian Landmine Foundation that began
as an opportunity for people and institutions globally to come together
on a single night, enjoy a meal and help solve the global landmine
crisis with discussions on world affairs.
The event was observed a couple of years ago first time in Sri Lanka
by the PDIP with the participation of its Patron Dr. James W. Spain, a
former US Ambassador for Sri Lanka and the UN with a global
participation of the US State Department and its embassies, the Canadian
Foreign Ministry and its consulates, the American Chambers of Commerce
and Rotary International.
The event has given me an opportunity to address and share various
international issues with German students and others and has taken me
back to the Second World Era of Germany.
Even in Germany there had been acts of resistance against the Nazis
by individuals or resistance groups throughout the years. They came from
all walks of life.
A bomb attack initiated by Graf Stauffenberg and other resistance
fighters on July 20, 1944 failed: Hitler survived and had more than
4,000 people executed in retaliation. The war continued, claiming huge
casualties on both sides, until the Allies occupied the entire German
Reich. Hilter committed suicide on April 30, 1945 and a week later the
darkest chapter in the history of Germany was brought to an end with the
country's unconditional capitulation.
The hardship, which German people suffered and underwent thereafter,
has left them into a lasting trauma, which is so difficult to overcome
even in the next centuries.
When I was quoting in my brief speech at the dinner that the tragedy
where by March, 1945 as the advancing Soviets under the slogan, "There
will be no pity.
They have sown the wind and now they are harvesting the whirlwind"
tortured at east two million German women in an undisciplined advance
that is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass violation against
women in history, I too experienced the horror of many decades back in
Germany through the eyes of those young female German students who were
participating in the event.
Now the search for inner-peace by finding peace in other countries
and helping others who are affected by the war and natural disaster, is
the only objective for these young Germans.
Consequently achieving a positive contribution to the
re-establishment of peace in the war-ravaged country with the help of
sporting events the AGSEP aims to help the divided ethnic groups to
become closer together and to give an impulse towards peace and spread
the message beyond the shores of this Island.
My discussion with Marita Kanter, a postgraduate diploma student in
the field of managing social science and working for a leading German
University has given me a chance to be better informed about the role of
the German Government and its people towards the international
Germans are open-minded, modern and tolerant people and these are the
hallmarks of German society at the beginning of the 21st century. For
the vast majority of people, the family still forms the nucleus of their
lives, yet the forms people choose for living together have become far
Supported by consistent measures by the state to ensure equality,
there has been a chance in the interpretation of the roles men and women
play. An increasing number of couples are now sharing domestic chores
and the task of bringing up children, who are regarded as the prents'
Violence as part of bringing up children is despised, whereas
peaceful co-existence with people from other countries and cultures has
become part and parcel of everyday life. Around nine percent of the
population is foreign. In every sixth marriage, one of the partners has
a foreign passport.
My discussions with Gunther Wagner, the founder/director of the IIRC,
a retired officer of the then East German Air Force turned entrepreneur
and with his coordinators and consultants Stefanie Vilein, Pascal
Sadaune, Romy Geiser and Maik Kastnev gave me a clear picture about the
German economy today.
The German economy has transformed from a war-torn economy to the one
of the best in the world. The German economy is ranking third in terms
of total economic output. In terms of exports, Germany takes first place
worldwide. The country continues to be an attractive market for foreign
investors, offering a superbly developed infrastructure and a highly
motivated, well-qualified work force. Top-notch research and development
projects are additional hallmarks of the country.
Compared with other industrial nations the German economy has an
almost unprecedented international focus. Companies generate almost a
third of their profits through exports, and almost one in four jobs are
dependent on foreign trade. The high level of international
competitiveness is most evident where companies vie with others in the
international arena. Despite the slump in world trade, the share of
exports expanded at a higher than average rate.
The present Germany is playing a very important role in the European
Union. When the EU is expanded to include 25 member states in 2004, the
repercussions of the Cold War and Europe's division into two camps have
finally been eliminated.
(The writer is the Secretary - General of the PDIP: A Think - Tank
on Post Conflict, Economic and Gender issues).