Address by Dr. Heinrich v. Pierer, President and Chief Executive Officer
September 24, 2001
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Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you, rabbi, for your gracious words.

I wish to thank the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for honoring me this evening. It is a special privilege for me to be joining the company of such illustrious past recipients, and I very much appreciate being here.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Just two weeks ago, I wasn't sure I would be coming to New York for this event. Certainly none of us were sure if we should - or could - come. We all sat before our television sets and watched in stunned horror as the impossible became brutal reality in this city and in Washington D.C. My immediate response to the disaster was to e- mail our U.S. employees and express our grief and feelings for all those affected. The outpouring of answers was overwhelming.

We all felt profound shock, grief and outrage. And these feelings have deepened and intensified in the days since those dark hours in American history. My visit to the attack site this afternoon only confirmed the terrible magnitude of this nightmare.

The appalling atrocities of September 11th changed our world overnight. Since then, we have all asked the same question over and over: After this unspeakable crime, will anything ever be the same again?

The entire world is in mourning. Even now, many painful days after the attacks, the sense of disbelief, the sense of absolute horror, and the sense of foreboding have only grown. The devastating message has taken on incomprehensible dimensions. What has happened here must be seen as a declaration of war not just on Americans, not just on the victims of over 50 nations - but on humanity itself.

My company, like so many others, was caught up in this dreadful act. With well over 80,000 employees, we are one of the largest U.S. companies. We count ourselves as a good corporate citizen of this nation.

The United States is our largest and most important market, and our company benefits immensely from the size, the strength and the dynamics of this country. We benefit from the advanced work being carried out in the universities and research centers. We benefit from the incredible openness for innovation and all that is new. We benefit from the unmatched vitality of American companies, markets and institutions. And above all, we benefit from the invincible spirit and creativity of its people.

And believe me - as I watched the televised reopening of the New York Stock Exchange last Monday - as I saw the heroic firemen and policemen ring the opening bell - I was deeply moved by the unbroken power, strength and determination of this great country!

On the other hand, I feel endless sadness and compassion for our American employees and all people of the United States. Fortunately all of our employees working at the World Trade Center - with one sad exception - escaped unharmed and we are thankful for that blessing.

What is especially painful for countless people throughout the world to see is that something fundamentally good - and fundamentally right - has been attacked. The terror of these days is targeted - above and beyond all the individual suffering - against humankind.

My country is extremely grateful for the role that the United States plays in the world. This nation's unrelenting commitment to freedom, democracy and justice may well be more evident to German citizens than probably any other folk in the world.

Twice in the past century - in defeating the Nazi dictatorship to help Germany return to the folds of the free world, and then during the reunification of Germany just over one decade ago - America has been an uncompromising and successful advocate for German freedom.

I have many strong personal images of what America has done for my country.

My earliest memory dates back to my childhood, to a day late in April, 1945, when I was four years old. American troops had arrived in our city. My mother told me to stand in our doorway, like the other children in our house, with my hands up, hoping we would touch the hearts of the GIs entering the house for the first time. We must have done a good job. The first soldier I saw stopped and gave me a piece of chocolate - an unbelievable rarity at that time.

Such incidents may seem trivial today, but happened thousands of times in postwar Germany and were indelible for my generation.

Later, the Americans kept West Berlin alive and free for eleven months during the Blockade that began in 1948. In 1963, President Kennedy proclaimed his solidarity with the city. And in 1987, President Reagan stood before the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate and called out: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!" Just two-and-a-half years later, President Bush worked with enormous skill, leadership, commitment and resolve to help make this dream come true.

Words and deeds like these have shaped and cemented German-American relationships over half a century. Chancellor Schroeder has just reaffirmed this spirit by pledging Germany's "unlimited solidarity" with America.

The whole world owes America a huge debt of gratitude for the willingness and determination of U.S. citizens to repeatedly risk life and limb to ensure that freedom prevails. One of the most dramatic and inspiring examples of this spirit was shown just two weeks ago on Flight 93 - where a few brave souls sacrificed themselves for a greater good.

U.S. armed forces are still stationed in my home state of Bavaria. They are held in high esteem after half a century of guarding our freedom. In the eyes of the broad German public, they are a key pillar in the transatlantic partnership which is so alive today.

These same soldiers - and this country which so symbolizes freedom for all peoples of the earth - are now embarking on a far more difficult task. Evil is no longer easily identified. It can no longer be pinpointed on a world map. And for the first time in history, it has struck the very heart of America.

I am firmly convinced that the gruesome acts of terror will serve as a wake-up call for the civilized world. And that we will be united in both purpose - and action.

Ladies and gentlemen, Before the events here in the U.S. so radically altered our world, I had planned to center my remarks tonight on the challenges presented by globalization. Although the war against terrorism has now seized our highest priority, allow me to expand on my original thoughts.

I see three phases in the nearly ten-year-old process of globalization.

The first phase was basically economic and political in nature. It was marked by opening markets, deregulation and privatization. And it ushered in an unprecedented era of ever fiercer global competition.

The second phase was marked by strong social elements. Seattle, Göteborg and Genoa were disturbing milestones in a broadening and increasingly aggressive social dialogue. Growing concerns about sustainability, social justice and the environment awakened the world to some very fundamental issues.

We had just entered a new level of dialogue that could reconcile the process of globalization with social needs. The Global Compact initiative of Kofi Annan and the budding dialogue between NGOs, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were a promising beginning.

Before this second phase could bear fruit, we were struck by the disasters in America. In this third phase, a global network of fanatic terrorists are targeting many things - including the world economic and financial systems. The immediate response may be military and political in nature, but the business community can also make major contributions.

We must elevate the globalization debate into a dialogue paced by social concerns and driven by understanding and consensus. It is time to address pressing global challenges and to act. We are all being called upon. Politicians. Governments. NGOs. Global enterprises.

I can only speak for the latter group. As multinationals, we must ensure that the enormous benefits of corporate citizenship are better communicated. We create jobs, transfer technologies, build local business, provide essential infrastructure, integrate cultures, and train and educate people. Our higher purpose is to be a catalyst for social stability and to achieve sustainability.

Ladies and gentlemen, The struggle between barbarism and civilization, between terror and humanity, between the rule of force and human rights are still with us at the dawn of the 21st century.

More than ever before, it will be the role of the world's religions to seek peaceful coexistence. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism - all religions and cultures are ultimately bonded by great humanitarian values. And all must join the unrelenting battle against the perversions of religious intolerance and fanatic violence.

We must never forget that what happened here was not in the name of a religion. At the same time, we must accept without reservation that terrorists - and those who condone terrorism in any form - are beyond the pale of civilization.

We must also make it absolutely clear that this is not a clash of civilizations. It is the reaction of all cultures, all religions, all countries and all peoples against the destruction of common fundamentals like freedom, tolerance, humanity and diversity.

The work of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and other institutions is a ray of hope. It assures us that people are indeed working to bridge dangerous gaps between cultures and religions. That someone cares for the highest good of all, humankind.

I am thankful for this work. Because it is one welcome glimmer of light in a reality that at times seems too brutal to permit hope. All of us share this mission in one form or another. We have come to a city that is facing unprecedented challenges. To a country that is trying to find the right path in a world that has revealed a frightening new dimension of evil. We are here to mourn and reflect. And we are here to set out with new purpose - and new resolve.

One thing is clear. Each of us - in our own way - must work to ensure that the good, the right and the just will prevail in the end. I am absolutely convinced we will succeed.

Thank you.
Dr. Heinrich v. Pierer
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