Quite frequently we have the pleasure of welcoming politicians and staff from political institutions, such as the European Parliament or foreign embassies in Berlin, to our German courses at the Humboldt-Institut.
Annette Lind, a member of the Social Democratic Party in the Folketing, the Danish parliament, kicked things off this January. From March 1, 2024, she will be the new Consul General for the Danish minority in Germany, based in Flensburg.
Germany is home to four legally recognized national minorities. In addition to the Danish minority, these include the Frisian ethnic group, the German Sinti and Roma and the Sorbian people.
The members of the Danish minority live mainly in the north of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, around Flensburg. It is estimated that the Danish minority comprises around 50,000 people. This is only an estimate, as no statistical data has been collected on an ethnic basis in Germany since the end of the Second World War.
With the Südschleswigscher Wählerverband (SSW), a political party of its own, the Danish minority is currently represented by four MPs in the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein and, since the 2021 federal elections, also by one MP in the German Bundestag.
There is also a German minority in the North Schleswig region of Denmark.
But now back to Annette, who will tell us more about her political work and her tasks to come.
Can you please briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
My name is Annette Lind, I am a politician for the Social Democratic Party, the largest party in Denmark and the current governing party. I have been an elected member of the Danish parliament, the Folketing, which translates as “People’s Assembly”, since 2011.
There I have been a spokesperson for foreign and security policy, senior citizens, and education, among other things. I am also deputy leader of my party’s parliamentary group.
Before my time in parliament, I was a teacher and head teacher, and I am also the mother of a son and have been married for 28 years.
In recent years, have you already had contact with the German language and Germany?
Yes, I’ve been there very often on vacation with my family in various places in Germany. And even when we were on vacation in Italy or France, our vacation always started and ended in Germany.
In my political work, I often work with German politicians, especially from the Baltic Sea region. We come together in the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC) and campaign for cross-border cooperation between the countries around the Baltic Sea. This includes environmental policy issues, but also economic and social policy, and issues relating to climate change and the energy policy of the participating states.
As part of this work in the BSPC, I have already had the opportunity to visit the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier in his official residence at Bellevue Palace.
From March 1, 2024 on, you will be the new Consul General for the Danish minority in Germany. What are your tasks in this office?
As Consul General in Flensburg, I will be the link between the Danish Minority, Denmark, and Germany. My daily work is about making life easier for people in the border region, strengthening the community and solidarity, and upholding traditions. I know that many tasks await me too.
Here in Berlin, I have already been able to visit the Danish embassy and meet the staff with whom I will be working closely in the future.
Are there any specific goals that you have set yourself for your term of office?
I believe it is important to have an open dialog between politicians, citizens, and businesses.
Working with young people is particularly important to me. As a former teacher, this is especially meaningful to me, because young people are our future.
Together, I want to talk with them about their education and future. They should have the opportunity to complete part of their education in Denmark in order to strengthen the exchange between the two countries.
I want to represent the Danish minority and Denmark well and play my part in ensuring that the region develops in a positive way.
To this end, I am also committed to the early completion of the Fehmarn Belt tunnel. This tunnel is equally important for Germany and Denmark as a fast connection between the two countries, and in particular between the metropolitan areas of Copenhagen, Hamburg and Berlin.
But the link is also important for the people on Lolland [Note: island on the Danish side] because it significantly shortens travel times between the two countries, especially for commuters.
Were politics and your work topics for the other students in Berlin?
Yes, but in a more general way. There were lots of questions, for example about Denmark. Many people did not realize that Denmark is a parliamentary monarchy.[Note: During Annette’s course, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark handed over the reins to her son, King Frederik X, after 52 years on the throne].
What impressions do you take away from Berlin and your German course?
Very good ones! For one thing, Melissa was a very good teacher. Now I even dream in German because the lessons are very intensive. You learn the language above all when you speak. This is something that the Danish ambassador here in Berlin confirmed to me as well.
There are many traces of the division of Germany between East and West and conflicts from the past to be seen in Berlin. At a time of war in Europe, it reminds me why I am committed to cooperation and unity across national borders. For me, it is essential that we have open borders that people can cross freely and easily.
We need more peace, cohesion, and unity in Europe as a whole.
A great closing statement! Thank you very much for your time and the interview. We wish you a successful start to your time in office as Consul General in Flensburg.
More information about the Danish minority (in German) can be found here: