The FDP politician and head of department for education and research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, on the most heated debates in the republic.

How free is science still in Germany? Federal Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger believes that she should at least fight for more freedom again – and would like to see more open discourses at the local universities. There must be these spaces for debate, and we must also keep them open,” said the FDP politician in the FOCUS interview, which then quickly turned to gender, Winnetou and other social issues.

Recently, the Humboldt University in Berlin had canceled the lecture of a doctoral student who was attacked by small protest groups as “transphobic”. Simply because she wanted to present the classic state of research, that biologically there are only two sexes. After the cancellation caused quite a stir, the event was finally made possible.

Ensuring open discourse is “certainly also a task for university management. You should deal with conflict-prone events and topics in advance and think about security concepts. ”The country needs “more and not less exchange”. Stark-Watzinger also faced this in the FOCUS interview, albeit with some of the currently heatedly debated topics tends towards sybilline answers: how many genders are there, Madam Minister? “I learned at school that there are two biological sexes,” said the FDP politician. “Science today gives different answers.” And: do you change? “I try to watch my language. For example, I use the feminine and masculine forms equally. As a woman, I’m very sensitive to that. At the same time, I think that language must remain understandable.” After all, at many universities it is now more or less mandatory that scientific work is gendered.

With all the negotiated sensibilities, a question about Winnetou was inevitable. For weeks, the republic finally discussed the question of how we should deal with the Apache chief and his inventor Karl May in the future. And whether the novels are “cultural appropriation” or a distorted picture of the true history of indigenous people in North America. At least that’s what it was about when Ravensburger Verlag recently published a book about the new film “The Young Chief Winnetou” – and took it off the market after criticism from some activists. Stark-Watzinger admitted: “I actually read most of Karl May’s novels.” Damaged Apparently she hasn’t: “You just have to learn to deal with the different horizons of experience of different times.” Her conclusion: “In any case, I would be happy if we could discuss many future topics with the same intensity as we argue about a fictional character.” How she discusses such topics with her two daughters, what the federal government’s new relief package really does for students and whether the government would also save on education in the face of war and crisis – you can read all about this in the interview.