How to measure the success of the Franco-German Youth Office (DFJW)? There are, to begin with, the impressive numbers: since its founding in 1963 by the Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the French President Charles de Gaulle, about eight million young German and French people have taken part in about 300,000 exchange programmes and meeting of the DFJW. More than 5,500 partners, associations and organizations support the German-French institution based in Paris and Berlin. The DFJW is a key mediator of Franco-German cooperation.
The hostility fomented in the world wars between the two neighbouring countries has long been overcome. Mission accomplished? Needed to maintain friendship, as Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized at the fiftieth anniversary of the Élysée Treaty in Berlin, is a “curiosity about the neighbours”. But curiosity is not inherited. The DFJW is therefore still needed so that every generation can develop a fresh access to the neighbouring country: through student exchangers, language courses, study visits, internships and meetings of young people in science, scholarship, sport and art.
Stamped by the European idea behind the Franco-German friendship, the inter-cultural activities of the DFJW now also go beyond the two countries. For more than ten years the Youth Office has organized tri-national and multi-national meetings with, for instance, Kosovars and Serbs. Franco-German history often inspires in them an “aha” experience: they see how opponents can become partners.
Franco-German citizens festival at the Place de la République in Paris on 6 July 2013 for the 50th anniversary of the Franco-German Youth Office (DFJW)