History of the Foundation

On April 2, 1971, Pauline Schwarzkopf founded the „Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe“ in Hamburg. In memory of her husband and the horrors of war, she gave the foundation the task of promoting the idea of European unification and peace among young people.

From left to right: Ilka Keuper (former Executive Director of the Schwarzkopf Foundation), Martin Hutsebaut (European Trade Union Confederation), Pauline Schwarzkopf.

Pauline Schwarzkopf

Pauline Schwarzkopf, born in Mannheim in 1908, was a contemporary witness of the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the period of National Socialism, the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the division of Berlin and Germany. Towards the end of her life, from 1990, she experienced her fifth Germany – the reunited Germany. A united Europe was a central lesson for her of the history of the 20th century, the “age of extremes.”

At the age of 49, in 1957, Pauline Schwarzkopf married the entrepreneur Heinz Schwarzkopf. Together, Pauline and Heinz Schwarzkopf were committed to helping young people from all social classes and countries and held numerous honorary social and church offices. After 13 years of marriage, Heinz Schwarzkopf died in a traffic accident in 1970 .

In memory of her husband and with the help of his financial legacy, Pauline Schwarzkopf founded the non-partisan Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe in 1971. She defined the foundation’s purpose as strengthening the European idea and international understanding, promoting youth education and supporting democratic civil society.

The foundation was initially located at the International Institute for Politics and Economics Haus Rissen in Hamburg and moved to the Europa-Union Hamburg in 1991. In July 2000, the foundation moved to a permanent home at Sophienstraße in Berlin-Mitte, with its own seminar and lecture rooms.

Pauline Schwarzkopf devoted herself to her foundation, with enormous personal commitment. In the 1970s and 1980s, Pauline Schwarzkopf participated in almost all of the foundation’s political seminars and accompanied almost every study trip through Europe. She visited European institutions with young people in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. In the late 1970s, with the Iron Curtain, the foundation was the first non-partisan organisation to travel with young people to Poland and East Germany for European policy meetings.

Pauline Schwarzkopf shaped the foundation and its work through her value-oriented personality and her strong sense of social justice. Her heart always beat for those disadvantaged by life and society, as well as for the idea of peace.

At the age of 97, on December 25, 2005, Pauline Schwarzkopf passed away. Since 2000, the chairmanship of the foundation’s board has been held by her adopted son, André Schmitz-Schwarzkopf.

We will have to represent our freedom more than ever before – not by self-righteous adherence to encrusted forms of thought and society, but by proven readiness for dialogue with youth, for intellectual adaptation to an ever-new reality, and for self-critical rethinking.

Pauline Schwarzkopf

Heinz Schwarzkopf – biographical information and Nazi past

On the occasion of the founder’s 100th birthday, the foundation had a historical report prepared on Heinz Schwarzkopf, which brought to light new findings about his Nazi past that had not been known before. Heinz Schwarzkopf, born in 1909, joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party on April 30, 1933. He also became a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and applied for admission to the Schutzstaffel (SS) on July 1, 1935. On February 17, 1938, he was accepted into the SS. There, Heinz Schwarzkopf belonged to the 7th SS Reiterstandarte. After graduating in 1934, he worked as a court assessor and earned his doctorate at the University of Munich on the subject of “Loyalty and Community Thought in Labor Relations of the Middle Ages.”

In August 1939, he was drafted into the 203rd Infantry Regiment of the 76th Infantry Division and took part in the campaigns of conquest against France and the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1942, Heinz Schwarzkopf was seriously wounded and spent the rest of the war doing clerical work at the Army Archives in Potsdam.

The compiled report led to a discussion within the foundation as to whether the original name, Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe, was still considered acceptable for the organisation. On the one hand, there were voices that suggested that Heinz Schwarzkopf’s life was symbolic of German history in the 20th century, and that after 1945 and until his death, his life was characterised by social and Christian commitment to the young Federal Republic. With reference to the nation’s history, and with the historical facts made transparent to the public eye, it was found that the foundation’s mission for European peace work could be fulfilled all the more.

Naming of the foundation

According to the majority on the board, the original naming of the foundation after Heinz Schwarzkopf, however, suggested that this person was a role model, which no longer was the case in light of the research findings. The foundation’s Board of Directors therefore decided at the end of 2008 to change the name of the foundation to Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe and to dedicate the foundation’s work to its founder, Pauline Schwarzkopf. The intended change of name to Pauline Schwarzkopf Foundation was not possible, as the founder had expressly refused for the organisation to be named after her during her lifetime. When changing the foundation’s name, its statutes were also expanded to include the goal of combatting right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism.

Programmatic development of the foundation

Against the backdrop of the original namesake’s life story, the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe feels all the more obliged to educate about the crimes of National Socialism and its historical continuities, as well as current forms of right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism. The foundation has explicitly committed itself to the goal of creating spaces for dialogue for young people from different backgrounds, as well as encouraging young people in Europe to grow into politically aware and responsible persons, working to strengthen the idea of a pan-European international understanding, and combat all forms of discrimination.

In keeping with the spirit of the founder, Pauline Schwarzkopf, the foundation’s focus is on a forward-looking political vision for Europe that ensures peaceful coexistence in diversity. In doing this work, the foundation began to be the patronage of the European Youth Parliament, one of the largest youth organisations in Europe, in 2004.

In 2014, the Margot Friedländer Prize was also launched, which supports students in remembering the Holocaust and taking a stand against current forms of racism and anti-Semitism.

In 2013, the EU compact course Understanding Europe reached students nationwide for the first time and brings as Understanding Europe network European topics into the classrooms of many European countries.

Since 2019, the Young Islam Conference (JIK) has expanded the foundation’s work to include a platform where the post-migrant generation can engage in constructive exchange on topics related to a migration society.

In 2020, the educational programmes Young Ambassadors against Anti-Semitism and Postmigrant Europe were launched and the foundation became part of the competence network Living Together in the Migration Society. Thus, in addition to the European focus, an explicit focus on issues of migration societies has been included in the foundation’s work since 2019.

In 2021, the Schwarzkopf Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary and five decades of commitment to a young Europe. More information on the anniversary as well as greetings from partners, youth networks and friends of the foundation can be found here.

Management of the foundation

Since its establishment, the office of the Schwarzkopf Foundation has been managed by Detlef Rothensee, Manfred Reinhold, Ilka Keuper, Philipp Scharff, Anne Rolvering and Luisa Seiler. More information on the foundation’s current team, led by André Schmitz-Schwarzkopf, can be found here.