Together for Democracy: Dresden’s Research Community Takes a Stand

Over 2,500 participants marched in the streets of Dresden during the TOGETHER FOR DEMOCRACY protest.

There is a large stage adorned with posters, with numerous people standing on it. One man is giving a speech.
Representatives from scientific and cultural institutions in Johannstadt and Blasewitz take the stage at Sachsenplatz © PoL

On Saturday the 25th of May, the research communities of Dresden came together to send a strong signal in support of democracy, peace, and coexistence, as participants from all walks of life marched during the Festival of Democracy. Over 60 different institutions from scientific and artistic backgrounds were involved, including the Cluster of Excellence, Physics of Life (PoL), and Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) under the umbrella of DRESDEN-concept. Across the city of Dresden, four different processions began marching from Fritz-Foerster-Platz, Sachsenplatz, Albertplatz, and Wettiner Platz.

The PoL delegation for the protest marched from Sachsenplatz, where colleagues, friends, and family joined together in solidarity. Beforehand, several speeches were made by researchers, including PoL affiliate group leader and director of the Max Planck Institute of Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), Stephan Grill. He was joined on stage by representatives from all scientific and cultural institutions in Johannstadt and Blasewitz to show their support. Together, they made a collective statement: “Creative minds strive in an environment where they feel welcome and have the freedom to create novelty. The freedom of science and art is essential for a society that wants to tackle the great challenges of our time”. In addition, a master’s student from the Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering (CMCB) gave speeches in both English and German highlighting the importance of a multicultural environment for science, and how it allows us to grow as a society. Inspired by the urgency and passion of these speeches, the PoL delegation continued their march to unite with the other processions at Altmarkt, amongst pavilions, stages, and numerous colourful banners. Visitors could enjoy the main artistic program on stage, and the supporting program in ten adjacent pavilions, exchanging ideas and exploring topics ranging from internationality in science, to performance art and the didactics of democracy.

In total, over 2,500 people gathered to send a message about the importance of democracy. The Rector of TU Dresden, Ursula Staudinger, took the main stage to make an important statement. “Science and culture are joining forces with the public for the first time to send a signal to protect our liberal democratic order”, she said. “Our liberal democracy cannot be taken for granted. It must be lived and protected anew every day”.

In an age where scientific discoveries continuously reshape our world politically and economically, the role of scientists extends beyond the confines of laboratories and academic institutions. Scientists have a responsibility not only to pursue knowledge with integrity, but also to safeguard the principles of human rights, especially when these are under threat. It is therefore our duty, at PoL and other scientific institutes, to defend and promote democracy, ensuring our collective effort in striving towards an equitable, safe, and just society for everyone.

Thank you to all who participated!