Timothy Garton Ash

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Timothy Garton Ash

Timothy Garton Ash , FRSA (born July 12, 1955 in London ) is a British historian , publicist and writer . His research focus is the contemporary history of Europe since 1945.


Timothy Garton Ash attended school in Sherborne and, on the basis of his excellent grades, went on to study history at Oxford University in the UK . In the web-documented Berkeley University interview, he cites his Thomas Mann reading as being decisive for his great interest in Germany ("Thomas Mann is to blame for my interest in Germany" - "Thomas Mann is to blame for my interest in Germany") . Accordingly, he researched for his doctoral thesis on Berlin and the Nazis at the Free University of Berlin , from where he made a detour to the Humboldt University in what was then East Berlin. Since many archives that are accessible today were still closed at that time, his question “What do people do about a dictatorship?” - “How do people behave towards dictatorships ?” - partly to the contemporary parallels in the SED state. For the Spectator he wrote articles on the situation in the Eastern Bloc under the pseudonym Edward Marston. As a contemporary historian of the emancipation of Central Europe from the Eastern Bloc - socialism , he crossed the border between journalist and scholar (“mixture of both journalism and scholarship”) and described himself as a “committed observer”.

Garton Ash is professor and director of the European Studies Center at St Antony's College of Oxford University , and he is Hoover senior fellow teaching at the University of Stanford . In addition to his academic work, he writes regularly for various internationally renowned newspapers, including The Guardian , where he is a regular columnist , and the New York Review of Books . Garton Ash is also a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the Board of Trustees of the Initiative Giving Europe a Soul . He is a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). His son Alec Ash is also known as a writer and journalist in Beijing .

His best-known works in Germany are: A century is voted out and In the name of Europe . He also published stories with an autobiographical background: In Die Romeo he describes the search for his own Stasi files and the subsequent dispute with the Stasi informers who were assigned to him. His book Free World: Europe, America and the Chance of the Crisis deals with the framework conditions of the neoliberal globalization agenda and the different strategies of leading western politicians.

On March 24, 1990, Garton Ash was one of the Germany experts who had been invited by the British government, led by Margaret Thatcher , to a meeting at their country residence, Checkers , to discuss the German question , the consequences of German reunification and Thatcher's in to speak about the future role of Germany and the Germans arising from this context. The publication of the minutes, which had been prepared by Thatcher's private secretary Charles Powell of the conference talk, sparked the so-called Checkers affair .

Garton Ash got into a public debate with the French writer Pascal Bruckner in 2007 . He accused him of giving Muslims a special role and standing up for a multiculturalism that ultimately threatens the Enlightenment .

Timothy Garton Ash (2019)

On May 25, 2017, the board of directors of the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen awarded Timothy Garton Ash the 59th Charlemagne Prize.

Theses on freedom of speech

In his 2016 book Speech Freedom. Ash formulates principles for a networked world “Ten principles for freedom of speech in the digital world”. He developed it from an internet platform project freespeechdebate.com (German, meaning free speech - debate ) operated by the University of Oxford (seat of his chair ) , on which all research on the topic is documented in thirteen languages ​​and put up for discussion:

  1. All people must be able and qualified to express their opinions freely and to seek, receive and communicate information and ideas without regard to boundaries.
  2. We do not threaten violence or accept violent intimidation.
  3. We use every opportunity to spread knowledge and do not tolerate any taboos.
  4. We need uncensored, diverse and trustworthy media in order to make well-informed decisions and fully participate in public life.
  5. We speak openly and with robust civility about all kinds of differences between people.
  6. We respect all believers, but not necessarily all beliefs.
  7. We should be able to protect our privacy and counter reputational damage. However, we should also accept restrictions on privacy if this is in the public interest.
  8. We must be empowered to question restrictions on freedom of information that are justified, for example, with the protection of national security.
  9. We defend the Internet and other means of communication against illegitimate interference by public and private powers.
  10. We make our own decisions and bear the consequences.



  • 1981: "And don't you want to be my brother ..." The GDR today (= Spiegel-Buch , Volume 15). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg (translated from English by Yvonne Vesper-Badal), ISBN 3-499-33015-6
  • 1990: A century is voted out . Hanser, Munich, ISBN 3-446-15898-7
  • 1993: On behalf of Europe, Germany and the divided continent . Hanser, Munich, translated from English by Yvonne Badal, ISBN 3-446-15858-8
  • 1999: The Romeo file: personal story . Autobiography . Hanser, Munich 1997 (original title: The File , translated by Udo Rennert), ISBN 3-446-19106-2 ; Paperback: Fischer-Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 3-596-14146-X
  • 1999: Time of Freedom, from the centers of Central Europe . Hanser, Munich, new edition 2004 (original title: History of the Present , translated by Susanne Hornfeck), ISBN 3-446-19758-3
  • 2000: 1989 and the episodes with János Kis (= Transit , Volume 18). New criticism publisher, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 3-8015-0344-5
  • 2001: Does what belongs together grows together? Germany and Europe ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall , lecture in the Schöneberg Town Hall in Berlin, November 5, 1999, edited by Wolfram Hoppenstedt (= series of publications of the Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation, issue 8). Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation, ISBN 3-933090-07-5 .
  • 2004: Free World, Europe, America and the Chance of Crisis . Hanser, Munich (original title: Free World , translated by Susanne Hornfeck and Hans Günter Holl), ISBN 3-446-20546-2 .
  • 2010: Turn of the century: global political considerations 2000 - 2010 . Hanser, Munich (Original title: Facts are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name , translated by Susanne Hornfeck), ISBN 978-3-446-23598-4 ; Federal Agency for Political Education - btb, Bonn ISBN 978-3-8389-0110-7 .
  • 2016: freedom of speech. Principles for a networked world . Translated from the English by Helmut Dierlamm and Thomas Pfeiffer. Hanser Munich (Original title: Free Speech ), ISBN 978-3-446-24494-8 .
  • 2019: The fall of the wall: What it means to have been there , essay in: Werner Krätschell : The power of candles, memories of the Peaceful Revolution. Pp. 85–92, Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-96289-046-9 .

Web links

Commons : Timothy Garton Ash  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. see [ https://www.uctv.tv/shows/Intellectual-Odyssey-with-Timothy-Garton-Ash-Conversations-with-History-7804 his interview in Conversations with history ] (video), approx. 2:50 min, uctv.tv, accessed on May 19, 2019.
  2. a b Gina Thomas: The committed observer , in: FAZ , July 11, 2015, p. 9.
  3. Alec Ash. Retrieved May 3, 2018 .
  4. Free world. Perlentaucher , reviews from NZZ, ZEIT and FR, accessed on July 22, 2012.
  5. Charlemagne Prize 2017. In: karlspreis.de. Retrieved May 26, 2017 .
  6. a b badische-zeitung.de , December 16, 2016, Thomas Hauser : How can you talk sensibly to each other online? (December 17, 2016)
  7. freespeechdebate.com (December 17, 2016)
  8. Information from the Federal President's Office.
  9. ^ Aachener Zeitung February 26, 2013 Charles Medal 2013 to British historian , accessed on February 26, 2013.
  10. Rationale of the board of directors of the society for the award of the International Charlemagne Prize , karlspreis.de, accessed April 7, 2020
  11. Press release of the Theodor Heuss Foundation on the Theodor Heuss Prize 2017. Theodor Heuss Foundation, accessed on March 30, 2017 .
  12. ^ Dieter Segert: Review , Zeithistorische Forschungen , Volume 6, 2009, pp. 164-169.