History of the German-Yemeni Society

The German-Yemeni Society (known in German as Deutsch-Jemenitische Gesellschaft; DJG) was founded on 25 July 1970 in Schwaig, near Nuremberg. Its initiator and first president S. U. Graf had travelled to Yemen regularly since the 1960s. The founding objective of the society was to support the development of Yemen, which had suffered from centuries of isolation and eight years of civil war. The society also aimed to strengthen human and cultural relations, between Germany and Yemen. Society activities started in 1972, when equipment, such as medical equipment was donated to schools in Hajjah, with the equipment transported by camels.

In 1977, The first reliable map of Yemen was published by the German-Yemeni Society. This map has been frequently updated, the last edition in 2004. Prof. Dr. Kopp became president of the society when Mr. Graf left the board in 1982. As professor for geography in Tuebingen and later at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Prof. Kopp travelled frequently to Yemen beginning in the early 1970s and had implemented various scientific research projects in the country. After Germany's unification in 1990, academics and development aid workers from the former German Democratic Republic joined the German-Yemeni Society. In 1994, Peter H. Hellmuth, a Freiburg resident who has also travelled regularly to Yemen since 1975, became the society's next president. In 1995, the society offered the first organized trip for its members to Yemen.

The activities of the society gradually expanded due to the economic and political developments in the country and the increased engagement of the German government in Yemen. After the disastrous earthquake of December 1982, the society helped to rebuild the minaret of the Madrasah ash-Shamsiyah in Dhamar. Following the floods of 2008, families in Wadi Hadramaut were supported by GYS contributions. The society also became active in cultural exchange programmes. In 2000, the German football team of SC Freiburg travelled to Yemen. In exchange, in 2009, Yemeni football players came to Germany to play in Freiburg and Nuremberg. The society is also constant contact with the Yemeni-German Friendship Association in Sana'a.

Due to the deteriorating political situation in Yemen since 2006, touristic journeys to Yemen have become more difficult and, now, are impossible. Accordingly, the working focus of the society changed after the election of the new board in 2014, with Gudrun Orth as the society’s current president. GYS now focuses on objectively informing the German media and public on events and developments in the Republic of Yemen. Towards this purpose, the society continues to publish the Jemen-Report, edited since 2014 by Marie-Christine Heinze. The society regularly organizes film events, as well as panel discussions on the ever changing situation in Yemen. These events take place throughout Germany. The society has around 550 members today.