Former member of the state parliament Heide Schinowsky (Greens) is the new head of the memorial in the former prison in Cottbus. She was elected with a large majority on Saturday at the general meeting of the “Human Rights Center Cottbus” association, which was founded by former GDR prisoners in 2007. She succeeds Silvia Wahling, who previously headed the memorial for twelve years.

The Cottbus Human Rights Center is also experiencing a generational change: 46-year-old Schinowsky was only 14 when the Wall fell in 1989. “The former inmates in the club belong primarily to my parents’ generation,” says Schinowsky. Many years of “important and successful” development work lie behind the club.

Guided tours with contemporary witnesses, art exhibitions, discussions and concerts take place on the site of the former prison. It was recently decided that a branch of the Stasi Records Archive would also be set up in Cottbus.

But now it must be a matter of ensuring that the memorial is well positioned for the future, says Schinowsky. “When the founding generation is no longer with us, the spirit of the memorial should be preserved.” There are therefore plans to transfer the sponsorship of the memorial to a foundation. Schinowsky also spoke out in favor of the Human Rights Center having a stronger impact on society than ever before.

The former Vice President of the Landtag, Dieter Dombrowski (CDU), remains chairman of the Cottbus Human Rights Center. “Heide Schinowsky always stood up for the concerns of persecuted people,” says the co-founder of the association. Even if the contemporary witnesses are no longer there, the injustice that happened in Cottbus should not fall into oblivion.