The impetus for the Elisabeth Käsemann Foundation came from the judicial investigation into the military dictatorship of Argentina (1976–1983). Among the victims of this dictatorial regime were German nationals and people of German descent, including Elisabeth Käsemann.
In a combined effort which crossed national boundaries, victims from Germany and Argentina and their relatives, together with non-governmental and church organizations, formed a coalition against impunity and achieved the international criminal prosecution of crimes against humanity committed during the military dictatorship in Argentina.

The constructive and successful cooperation between civilians of Argentina and Germany in coming to terms with crimes against humanity, experienced by Dorothee Weitbrecht, historian and niece of Elisabeth Käsemann, inspired her to create the Elisabeth Käsemann Foundation. The foundation was established in 2014 with the support of Luisa Wettengel, a Buenos Aires-based Argentinian of German descent, whose brother was also a victim of the dictatorship. She has been backing the work of the foundation ever since.

Since the late 1990s numerous foreign governments have joined the quest for a judicial investigation into the dictatorships in Latin America because many of the victims were foreign citizens with dual nationality. Along with Germany, other countries including Italy, France, Sweden and Spain have issued international arrest warrants following campaigns led by non-governmental organizations and victims’ rights groups. Yet Argentina was the first Latin American country to opt for a comprehensive judicial inquiry into its own past.

The violation of human rights is not a national affair. Since the late 1990s this has been recognized by law with the creation of the International Criminal Court that is now based in The Hague. Prosecuting crimes against humanity all over the world is the first and fundamental step to outlaw and prevent these acts in the future and to restore justice for the victims and their families, and for society as a whole.

But what’s also required is engagement, by both society and government, to examine past injustices in order to raise awareness among succeeding generations of anti-democratic developments and the importance of human rights.
Photo: In 2001, Dr. Luisa Wettengel, member of the group of the Family Members of Disappeared Persons of German and German Origin under the Argentinean military dictatorship and member of the Board of Trustees of the Elisabeth Käsemann Foundation, handed over the criminal complaint in the case of the German victims to the then Federal Minister of Justice, Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin.