Mr. Busch-Petersen, the Louis Lewandowski Festival is already in its eighth year and enjoys great popularity in Berlin and beyond the borders of the capital. What drives you again this year?

Since our existence, we have welcomed more than one thousand five hundred choristers, soloists and cantors from all over the world to Berlin and experienced unforgettable musical moments together with them. With great humility we are once again very grateful this year that Berlin is on its way to becoming a center for Jewish liturgical music again. After all, what was done to Jewish people, the Jewish world and Jewish culture in this city this is not a matter of course.

You are CEO of the trade association Berlin-Brandenburg. How do you deal with historical responsibility?

The trade association Berlin-Brandenburg e. V. (HBB) is an association of companies and has been involved for years in addition to its actual activities as a business, professional and employer association for a culture of remembrance also and especially in retail and for Jewish life and culture in Berlin. Bearing in mind that Berlin’s retail trade was decisively influenced by Jewish companies and entrepreneurs until the Nazi era and that this entrepreneurship was completely liquidated in the Shoah, we face up to our historical responsibility. In 1933, less than 1% of the inhabitants of Germany were Jews. But 25 % of all retailers and about 75 % of all buyers and store owners were Jewish merchants. Also, the HBB has been reminiscent of billboard and window displays on the Kristallnacht in 1938, whose name “Reichskristallnacht” goes back to the numerous smashed shop windows and plundered shops.

What is the special relationship between the merchants and synagogal music?

We have consistently accepted a cultural heritage that was almost completely wiped out with the Shoah: synagogal music. Since 2007 the Handelsverband Berlin-Brandenburg and its members have been promoting the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin as the main sponsor and partner, and since 2011 the “Louis Lewandowski Festival – World Festival of Synagogue Music”, which has become the largest musical event of its kind in the world. And of course, the merchants are happy, since the festival is one of the reasons for yet another Sunday of open shops in Berlin.

The Louis Lewandowski Festival credibly transports the image of tolerant Berlin into the world, as a capital with a living Jewish culture and as a capital that faces up to its historic responsibilities.