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gbs Annual Review 2021

Foundation activities in the second Corona year

Many successes despite Corona: As in the previous year, the Giordano Bruno Foundation focused 2021 on "The high art of rationality – facts, fakes and perceived truths". The highlights of the year included the activities for Hans Albert's 100th birthday, the founding of the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk, nationwide campaigns for freedom of speech and against the criminalisation of abortion, attention-grabbing art campaigns in front of Cologne Cathedral and much more. 

1st quarter: January – March 2021

January: Since the traditional New Year's reception at the Giordano Bruno Foundation headquarers cannot take place in 2021 due to Corona, gbs board spokesperson Michael Schmidt-Salomon explains in his virtual New Year's address why the Foundation will continue its last year's focus on "The High Art of Rationality" and why a stronger adherence to the basic rules of rational argument would decisively improve the societal debate – not only on the Corona issue. 

After her conviction on the basis of the controversial §219a of the German Penal Code ("StGB"), the Giessen doctor Kristina Hänel is no longer allowed to provide information on abortions – but the Giordano Bruno Foundation still is! And so, in January 2021 – a few days after the judgement was delivered – the website "" is launched, on which the original information from Hänel's homepage as well as other important information on abortion can be found. 

February: On the 1st of February – one week before Hans Albert's 100th birthday – the gbs opens the "Digital Hans Albert Archive" in cooperation with the Hans Albert Institute (HAI), which positively impacts the media coverage on the milestone anniversary of the renowned academic theorist. On 8 February, the gbs hosts a "Virtual 100th Birthday Celebration" at which Eric Hilgendorf (professor of criminal law, legal philosopher and gbs advisory board member) gives the laudatory speech and the elaborate film documentary "Hans Albert – Der Jahrhundertdenker" is shown for the first time. 

Also in February, the Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht (Institute for the Secular Law, ifw) files charges of incitement of the people against the operator of the website "", who, as a militant opponent of abortion, had previously denounced many female and male doctors. A few days later, the gbs addresses the "Core Problem of the Catholic Church" with the "Eichelbischof" in front of Cologne Cathedral and protests publicly against the cover-up of the abuse scandal. 

March: In early March, the gbs, together with the Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands (Humanist Association of Germany, HVD), the Humanistische Akademie Deutschland (Humanist Academy of Germany, HAD) and the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft humanistischer Studierender (Federal Association of Humanist Students, BAG) announce the founding of the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk, with the help of which humanist students are to receive the same support as their religious fellow students. 

In mid-March, when Cardinal Woelki presents his second report on the abuse scandal, the Foundation once again stands in front of Cologne Cathedral with the "Hängemattenbischof" ("The tireless examination of the abuse scandal"), making headlines around the world. Shortly afterwards, the gbs celebrates an important "A Victory for Freedom of Opinion" when Islam-critical activist and blogger Amed Sherwan ("A kiss is not a crime!") wins his legal battle against Facebook/Instagram with the Foundation's support. 

2nd quarter: April – June 2021

April: The Bundestag discusses paying the churches 10 billion euros to replace the historic state payments – this would be a "pile of money higher than Mount Everest", criticises the gbs in its press release. The ifw shows that it can be done much more favourably for taxpayers with a "law on the redemption of state benefits to the churches". 

"There is no substitute for reading a book – except for: reading a book!": For the "World Book Day" on 23 April, the Giordano Bruno Foundation publishes the "gbs Basic Library". Its special feature: the authors involved in the foundation have themselves indicated which of their works they consider to be particularly significant. 

May: Whose lives should doctors save when not everyone can be helped? At the beginning of May, the Hans Albert Institute publishes a statement that deals with triage decisions from an ethical perspective. In mid-May, the gbs participates in the nationwide protests "150 Years of Criminalisation of Abortion", which call for a fundamental reform of the legislation. At the same time, the foundation criticises Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who speaks at the opening of the Ecumenical Church Congress as a "committed Christian" – but not as the "president of all Germans". 

Did Germany co-finance the missiles that are fired at Israel in May 2021? The Federal Court of Auditors has investigated whether funds from the Foreign Office (AA) have flowed to the Islamic terrorist organisation Hamas via detours, but does not want to disclose this information. The Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht (ifw), together with Berlin lawyer Seyran Ateş, takes legal action against this. Also in May 2021, the ifw issues the second volume of its publication series: Gerhard Czermak (member of the gbs advisory board and the ifw board of directors) analyses in it "70 years of the Federal Constitutional Court in an ideological imbalance". 

June: A clear majority of Germans is dissatisfied with the established parties' fight against Islamism: This is shown by a joint study by the WZB Berlin Social Research Centre, the Alice Schwarzer Foundation and the Giordano Bruno Foundation, which is published in June 2021. The survey, preceded by an article in "ZEIT" and explained in detail in an "EMMA" feature, proves that the majority of people in Germany have a nuanced image of Islam and can distinguish very precisely between "Islam and Islamism".

3rd quarter: July – September 2021

July: At the beginning of July, the members of the European Parliament receive suspicious mail: The letters are torn open, checked by a "European Task Force against Child Abuse" and sealed with a warning notice. Behind the attention-grabbing operation is a campaign by the Giordano Bruno Foundation, protesting against the planned "abolition of digital privacy (#chatcontrol)" by these means. 

After having previously participated in many online events (especially the lecture series of the Kortizes Institute), the gbs itself broadcasts again from the "virtual studio Düsseldorf" on 30 July: gbs advisory board member and bestselling author Andreas Altmann presents his current book "Gebrauchsanweisung für Heimat" in the "Virtual Bruno Academy". 

August: In early August, the newly founded Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk reports a "great need for humanistic scholarships": 160 students and doctoral candidates from almost all disciplines have applied to the first call for applications of the humanistic scholarship programme for gifted students. The selection committee is impressed by the quality of the applications received. The decision for the best 10 candidates, who receive the confirmation for the Suttner Scholarship in September 2021, is therefore a close one. 

September: Science denial, climate research and pseudo-medicine are the main topics of the SkepKon 2021, the largest sceptical conference in the German-speaking world, which takes place online from 11 to 12 September. The conference is organised by the Society for the Scientific Investigation of Pseudosciences (GWUP) with the support of the Giordano Bruno Foundation and the Hans Albert Institute, among others. In addition, the gbs participates in the "Nationwide Action Day for International Safe Abortion Day" (#wegmit218) at the end of September. A good time – shortly before the federal elections – to influence politicians to finally change something about the precarious situation for unintentionally pregnant people. 

Also shortly before the federal election, the Forschungsgruppe Weltanschauungen in Deutschland (Research Group on Worldviews in Germany, fowid), which supported by the gbs, publishes its new data sheet on the distribution of religions in Germany. According to this, at the end of 2020, 33.8 million Germans no longer belonged to any religion, making non-denominational people the largest share of the population in Germany at around 41 percent, preceding Catholics (27 percent), Protestants (24 percent), members of other religious communities (between 4 and 5 percent) and denominational Muslims (between 3 and 4 percent). As in previous years, the "fowid pie" attracts a lot of attention, including the fowid figures being disseminated by the "Tagesschau" via Twitter on the day of the Bundestag elections.

4th quarter: October – December 2021

October: "Youth doesn't protect against wisdom!": As part of the Kortizes symposium "Zeit – Geist – Gehirn" ("Time – Mind – Brain"), which takes place with the support of the gbs at the beginning of October in the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg, the ten winners of the "Young People's Competition for the 100th Birthday of Hans Albert" are awarded their prizes. The anthology "Was ist rational?" ("What is rational?"), which features the 14 best essays of the competition, is also published to coincide with the award ceremony. 

The new issue of the "bruno." annual magazine is published in mid-October 2021 and focuses on the "high art of rationality". The magazine also features an impressive portrait of "secular pioneer" Ingrid Matthäus-Maier, insightful interviews with Hamed Abdel-Samad, Jacques Tilly and Michael Schmidt-Salomon, among others, background reports on the "core problem of the Catholic Church", on censored kisses on the internet and much more. In addition, the "bruno." issue includes the new gbs brochure "Spuren hinterlassen: Dem Humanismus Zukunft schenken" ("Leaving your mark: Giving humanism a future"), which complements the comments by gbs Managing Director Elke Held on the Foundation's strategies for the future

November: Is the new coalition formed after the Bundestag elections taking advantage of the historic opportunity for a new secular legal policy? At the beginning of November, ifw and the gbs made an appeal to this effect in the coalition negotiations between the SPD, FDP and Bündnis90/Die Grünen. The coalition agreement published at the end of November, "Mehr Fortschritt wagen", includes some vague passages, but gives reason for hope. In any case, the "ProChoice" activists (supported by the gbs) around Giessen doctor Kristina Hänel are very happy because the coalition agreement clearly provides for the removal of the controversial §219a StGB. 

In 2021, the gbs can celebrate a second 100th birthday in addition to the day of honour for Hans Albert: In memory of its advisory board member, the writer and children's book author Max Kruse ("Urmel aus dem Eis"), who died in 2015, the gbs publishes the video "Erinnerungen an Max Kruse" ("Remembering Max Kruse") on 19 November. The film is screened for the first time the day before at the Max Kruse Conference of the German Academy for Children's and Youth Literature in Munich. 

Due to Corona restrictions, the "Stuttgarter Zukunftssymposium" ("Stuttgart Future Symposium") on 20 November 2021 can regrettably only take place online. The organisers of the exciting congress on the topic of "Colleague AI in Education" are the Integrata Foundation, the Giordano Bruno Foundation, the Weltethos Institute Tübingen, the Informatik-Forum Stuttgart e.V. and the Ethics Association of German Business.

December: On 6 December, the gbs commemorates the election of evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley as the first Director-General of UNESCO exactly 75 years ago. Huxley, who founded the philosophy of "evolutionary humanism", is one of the gbs' most important sources of ideas, which is also reflected in the documentary film "In Humanity We Trust – The story of evolutionary humanism", produced by Ricarda Hinz in 2014 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Giordano Bruno Foundation.


Despite the many corona restrictions, 2021 was a successful year for the Giordano Bruno Foundation. In this respect, the gbs looks forward to the future with optimism – also because the measures to promote young talent (under-30s competition on the occasion of Hans Albert's 100th birthday and the founding of the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk) show pleasingly positive effects. The Foundation's advisory board has once again been strengthened by the appointment of renowned medical ethicist Bettina Schöne-Seifert, but the gbs also had to accept a painful loss with the death of brilliant cartoonist Martin Perscheid

Conversely, we are pleased that we were able to register additional members in the gbs Circle of Patrons this year, which is important for a solid financing of the Foundation's activities. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the Giordano Bruno Foundation in 2021 through their idealistic and/or financial commitment and wish our supporters a good, healthy and joyful year 2022!

The above review of the year only addresses a few of the Foundation's activities. In fact, much more happened in the gbs surroundings (we can only refer to the websites of the projects fowid, ifw, HAI, Evokids, the very active Facebook page of the "Great Ape Project" or the manifold activities of the Cradle to Cradle NGO supported by the gbs). A more detailed account of the events in 2021 will follow in the next issue of the bruno. annual magazine, which will be published in autumn 2022.