20th Karlsruhe Dialogues - Speakers

The PEGIDA-Complex: Legitimate Concerns, Racism and the Centre of Society


Frank Richter





© Detlef Ulbrich

Born in 1960, Frank Richter studied philosophy and theology in Erfurt and Neuzelle. In 1987 he was ordained as a priest and then worked, among other vocations, as chaplain, cathedral vicar, youth pastor, and priest. In 1989 he became known within the Peaceful Revolution of the GDR as a cofounder of the ‘Group of 20’ in Dresden – which was the first opposition group to be accepted as an official interlocutor of state authorities. In 1991 Richter received the European Human Rights Prize, representing all peaceful demonstrators from autumn 1989. Since 2009 he has been director of the Saxon State Agency for Political Education. Richter has also been awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit and the Saxon Constitutional Medal. In the asylum debate in Saxony, Richter has been distinguishing himself as a mediator and facilitator since 2013, and has earned the respect of much of the population for his dialogue-oriented mediating work.





1. In your opinion, what are the values that unite the European Union? How can a joint European identity be better fostered in the future?

For a long time I liked the comparison: Europe’s West and East are like a pair of lungs. After 1990 I was also able to understand just how different the Anglo-Saxon-influenced Europe and the Romanic-influenced Europe are from one another. A common European identity cannot arise when one part tries to impose its way of thinking. Europe is a wonderful idea whose supporters are expected to bow to it on a daily basis and to rejuvenate it through a perpetual process of communication and rapprochement. The temptation of an economically strong Germany lies in its wanting a German Europe; its task, however, is to integrate as many others as possible and to respect everyone. Russia remains Europe’s moral and political challenge, and Europe cannot evade her.


2. Are alternative models – such as a multi-speed Europe or a European Federation of Regions – conceivable?

Yes, of course. In politics – which as everyone knows is man-made – everything possible is always conceivable. My desire, admittedly, is different: for the European Union to remain unified in the current crisis, to work out a viable compromise, and to provide the world with an example of political intelligence.


3. Do you think that the current nationalist tendencies are a short-term phenomenon caused by recent crises; or do they represent the beginning of a long-term development?

Something that has developed over a long period of time will not disappear in a short period of time. The nationalist aspirations will continue to gain political ground if political solutions on the European level continue to be elusive.