Heinrich Böll was not only an extraordinary writer, he was an important and audible voice in socio-political debates in post-war Germany: An intellectual in the public domain who commits himself to a cause, who gets involved, who over decades became the conscience of the nation. With that, he was an exceptional phenomenon in Germany. In France, the public intellectual, the writer or, more generally, the artist who puts his oar in the debates of the time and who, if need be, takes sides belongs to the fundamental elements of the republic.
The exceptional phenomenon that is Heinrich Böll is missing today. We sorely need him in the face of current developments in Germany and in Europe where the accomplishments of the Enlightenment that were hard fought for over centuries, from human rights to a living democracy whose actors and entities are trusted by citizens, are increasingly being challenged. Heinrich Böll, in a classic way, was an advocate for enlightenment and humanism. To him, the benchmark of a liberal society was its dignified treatment of every single person with their distinctive features. His thoughts and contemplations are, especially in this day and age, almost alarmingly topical.
This selection of quotations and thoughts from his works aims to illustrate the impact and the legacy of Heinrich Böll. However, most of all, they are intended to inspire thinking which, at best, leads to actions, in line with the tradition of aphorisms in the Age of Enlightenment. Our foundation is dedicated to the thoughts and actions of its namesake Heinrich Böll. His exemplary dedication spurs us on to fight for the dignity of each and every person, for their fundamental rights and to stand up for a living democracy.
Paris, December 2017,